BRENTWOOD PULSE: Brentwood poised for rapid growth
For a long time Metrotown has been the unofficial city centre in Burnaby.
But it won’t be long before Brentwood gives it a good run for the money as the most vibrant and busy town centre in Burnaby.
It’s expected that this area will grow by about 30,000 residents over the next 30 years.
At the heart of it all, of course, is Brentwood Town Centre.
In a nutshell, they’re turning the old mall concept—you know, as a closed space with no windows surrounded by acres of asphalt—inside out.
“The intent is to create different urban retail experiences in a pedestrian oriented town centre within an exciting public realm,” states the master plan document for Brentwood.
Once redevelopment of the 28-acre site is complete, the developers (Shape Properties) envision lots of shopping, but also a high street where cyclists and pedestrians feel comfortable mingling with cars.
In addition to as many as 4,000 new condos giving the area more life day and night, there will be office space, green space and a huge public plaza at the corner of Willingdon Avenue and Lougheed Highway—connected to the SkyTrain station.
Bluntly put, the Brentwood area as a whole is booming.
And though the plans for the mall site are exciting, there are many other projects that have either been completed in recent years, or are in the works. Already, several towers have been built or are under construction around Gilmore SkyTrain station and along Gilmore Avenue. At Gilmore and Douglas Road, across from Willingdon Heights Park, Ledingham McAllister is building Aviara.
This project includes a 52-storey highrise apartment tower and two four-to-six-storey apartment buildings. In total, the project includes 595 apartments.
But the main intersection, of course, at Willingdon Avenue and Lougheed Highway, is the centre of the action.
Across from the mall, the southwest corner was once home to car dealerships, a tire store, restaurants and other light industry.
This is where SOLO District is already emerging, a project of Jim Bosa’s Appia Development.
Last June, the project’s second phase, Altus, broke ground, which will include Burnaby’s tallest tower.
At more than 550 feet tall, it will be second in B.C. only to the Shangri-La in downtown Vancouver.
When all four phases of SOLO are complete, the 6.5-acre development will include more than 1,400 homes, as well as offices, retail and green space.
In 2012, Jim Bosa also announced that SOLO District would be home to Burnaby’s first Whole Foods Market, a high-end grocer focusing on natural and organic foods.
In all, big change is happening in the Brentwood neighbourhood.
And it won’t just bring benefits to new home buyers.
Residents already living in the area will benefit from all the new amenities, from shops and restaurants, to new park space and a new school that are planned for the future.
The City of Burnaby has been collecting significant contributions from the developers behind these big projects and stands to collect more in the future, to pay for services to this growing area.
The SOLO District alone, once completed, will contribute a city-owned community space within its project and $30 million in cash for amenities elsewhere in the neighbourhood.
A big driver of the growth in Brentwood is SkyTrain. Like the other three town centres in Burnaby, Brentwood is shifting from predominantly car oriented to transit oriented.
And above all, more pedestrian friendly.
Tower to have 300 rental units
The first tower Shape Properties plans to build in the transformation of Brentwood mall could give Burnaby a big boost in rental housing.
Of the 591 apartments in the building, 300 are intended to be purpose-built rental units to be owned and operated by Shape and their funding partners.
Shape, which owns the mall, has applied for rezoning of the southwest corner of the 28-acre mall site to allow for a 53-storey tower on top of a three-storey commercial podium for which it earlier applied for a rezoning.
The Brentwood Site Conceptual Master Plan, which permits towers to a maximum height of 70 storeys, received final approvals from Burnaby council last September.
As for parking, the strata units would have 328 spaces and the rental units would have 330 spaces, even though Shape’s parking studies have found that the rental demand for dedicated parking is about half that of strata parking.
That portion of rental parking deemed surplus would initially be used for commercial retail parking. “As requests for use of this component of parking comes forward from the rental tenants, it would be made available up to the full 1.1 spaces per unit [required].”
The rental units will range from one bedrooms 539 to 557 square feet in size (125 units) to 25 two-bedroom-plus-den units of 881 to 895 square feet.
The condominiums would range from 105 one bedrooms of the same size, to three three-bedroom units of 1,723 to 2,819 square feet.
Five per cent of the total number of units, or a minimum of 30, would be adaptable units complemented by 30 handicapped parking stalls.