Big plans for Burnaby's Brentwood

A concept plan for the massive redevelopment of Brentwood Town Centre that could take 30 years to complete will go to a public hearing Aug. 28.

A report to city council this week said Shape Properties is proposing a concept that would be a complete redevelopment of the 28-acre Brentwood mall site. If it is carried out, it would have up to 11 residential high rises and two office towers ranging from 25 to 70 stories, townhouses, a large amount of retail at ground level and a public plaza for year-round activity.

"The plaza and pedestrian promenades are intended to be the hub of the development and the heart of the Brentwood Town Centre," said the report.

The proposal calls for the project to be broken down into four quadrants. The first to go up would be the one right at Willingdon Avenue and Lougheed Highway. It's proposed the residential towers would range from 45 stories to 70 in addition to some low-rise and commercial.

Coun. Paul McDonell said the city wants to keep the tallest towers, and their high density, close to the SkyTrain station. He has his doubts, though, it will reach as high as 70 stories or even 60.

"Once you go over 58 you've got to put in a third elevator shaft and that gets expensive. The economy of scales just become too much," said McDonell. "Personally, I don't have a problem if we go higher with buildings because that gives us more open space on the ground."

In addition to the big buildings, the focal point of the first phase would be a two-tiered public plaza with the upper tier connecting to the Brentwood SkyTrain Station concourse.

Next up in the process would likely be the section along the Lougheed to the east. It would have two residential high-rises and commercial including a 50,000 square foot supermarket.

If the market is good, the third quadrant along Willingdon Avenue could be built in conjunction with the second with towers ranging from 35 to 55 stories at Halifax and Willingdon.

The fourth and final phase could also be started earlier if the market conditions are favorable and it would have four towers and a linear parkway to transition the development to the homes to the north of the site.

The concept also calls for the building of High Street to run through the development. It would be the spine of the shopping area designed to be highly active and connect residents, employees, shoppers, cyclists, motorists and pedestrians to all aspects of the site.

In the report, acting planning director Lou Pelletier said the concept has exceptional architectural expression that will serve Burnaby and its citizens well into the future.

"The interplay of land use, urban design, place-making, architecture, landscape architecture and signage showcases a highly creative approach to development within the Brentwood core area, and significantly contributes to Brentwood's transition into an urban town centre," wrote Pelletier.

He said the site's redevelopment complexity and foresight to guide development over the next two or three decades makes it worth supporting.

Development cost charges are expected to include a new school site acquisition charge, a parkland acquisition charge and a sewerage charge.

Early version's of the concept have already been presented at two open houses. The public hearing will be for Shape's application to rezone the property to allow the project to proceed.

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