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LOUGHEED PULSE: Looking ahead to a vision of Lougheed's future

What the city calls the Lougheed Core Area, depicted as it is today (LEFT) and at right with broad strokes for the new precincts and connections that could be incorporated into the site in the future. In green is across from Cameron Elementary, and is envisioned as a north-south ‘pedestrian spine’ with a daylit Lost Creek and a major outdoor gathering space. In light yellow is a north-south pedestrian-only spine through an outdoor, covered shopping area lined with shops and restaurants. The Cameron Street edge at top (blue) is envisioned as having retail at grade, residential above. The pink routes are for vehicles, but aim to be narrow and pedestrian-friendly.  - City of Burnaby
What the city calls the Lougheed Core Area, depicted as it is today (LEFT) and at right with broad strokes for the new precincts and connections that could be incorporated into the site in the future. In green is across from Cameron Elementary, and is envisioned as a north-south ‘pedestrian spine’ with a daylit Lost Creek and a major outdoor gathering space. In light yellow is a north-south pedestrian-only spine through an outdoor, covered shopping area lined with shops and restaurants. The Cameron Street edge at top (blue) is envisioned as having retail at grade, residential above. The pink routes are for vehicles, but aim to be narrow and pedestrian-friendly.
— image credit: City of Burnaby

Lougheed Town Centre has long been one of the quietest of Burnaby’s four town centres.

Not in terms of traffic, of course. The intersection of Lougheed Highway and North Road has always been busy.

But while Metrotown has boomed, and the neighbourhoods of Brentwood and Edmonds have seen a flurry of new development over the years, the Lougheed area has been comparatively stagnant.

Since opening in 1969, the mall has evolved over the years. It doubled in size in 1986, and underwent significant renovations about a decade ago.

But now big plans are in the works. The area is poised for a massive makeover.

Shape Properties Corporation owns the mall property, and recently purchased four more properties in the town centre.

To prepare the ground for redevelopment, the city is embarking on a planning process for the entire 61-acre “Lougheed Core Area” that includes the wedge from Cameron Street in the north all the way down to the Lougheed-North Road intersection.

And like the plans for Brentwood Town Centre, which Shape also owns, the city and the company hope to gradually transform the site from suburban, car-oriented shopping centre to urban, transit and pedestrian-oriented town centre.

Shape hired James KM Cheng Architects Inc. to develop key concepts for the project.

“It won’t be a mall anymore if what they’re proposing is accepted,” Coun. Colleen Jordan, chair of the city’s Community Development Committee, said recently. “Not in the sense of what we traditionally think as a whole bunch of stores joined together with a lid on the top.”

According to early concepts presented at open houses, the site could include “a variety of outdoor and indoor shopping experiences, cafés and restaurants, office space, and residential opportunities, all designed around new public plazas, open spaces, and tree-lined pedestrian streets.”

The concept suggests residential towers near the edges of the site, with paths, open space and commercial near the heart.

An iconic “transit plaza” is proposed for the existing SkyTrain station with an “iconic roof” with bus stops, shops and services and a “bike centre.”

The land occupied by the existing mall and its parking lots, almost 15 hectares (37 acres), would include streets with commercial at ground level and towers on top, with all parking underground.

The concepts are the result of a review of the Lougheed Town Centre plan, last updated in 1997, to take into consideration the addition of the Evergreen Line rapid transit project to Coquitlam expected to be completed in 2016, and the city’s high-density, multiple-family residential zoning categories for town centre areas adopted in 2011.

The design of streets would put pedestrians, cyclists and transit-users first, and offer a wide range of housing types and price points, a city report on the project states.

At this stage, the future of Lougheed is only being painted in broad strokes. Shape is focusing on Brentwood first, but is already seeking to flesh out details at Lougheed.

The preliminary concepts were presented to city council in January, and response from local politicians was positive.

“It’s very exciting to see we’ll be turning another huge parking lot into an urban environment,” said Coun. Pietro Calendino at the time.

“When that happens it’s always a positive event for any city.”

Council approved the concepts as a starting point for a public consultation process that is currently underway. One open house was held a couple of months ago, and others are to be scheduled in the future, according to the city.

The city hopes to hear from residents whether the concepts are on track for what they’d like to see in the area, and if any adjustments should be made.

“Anytime we’re taking an old-fashioned mall and we’re translating it to an urban centre it is a very, very exciting time for everyone,” Mayor Derek Corrigan said in January. “There are massive benefits to be gained for the surrounding community, not just in increased property values but in the amenities that will be offered close to home.”

According to a city report, the Lougheed core area would include seven distinct precincts including: a transit hub and plaza; a narrower, pedestrian-friendly Austin Road high street; a north-south grand promenade connecting Cameron to the heart of the neighbourhood and the transit hub; an east-west pedestrian connection between North Road and the existing residential highrises west of Bartlett Court; projects along Cameron featuring retail at grade and housing above; a north-south pedestrian-only walkway through an outdoor, covered shopping area with restaurants; a north-south pedestrian connection along Bartlett Court with the daylit creek and large outdoor gathering space.

The area’s redevelopment will provide opportunities with the developers for potentially expanding or relocating Cameron Recreation Complex and the attached Cameron library branch.

Another of Cheng’s concepts is to daylight a tributary of Lost Creek, which flows into the Brunette River, and have it meander through the western end of the current mall site.

Change has been a long time coming to this part of Burnaby.

Apart from a mixed-use project at the southwest corner of Cameron and North Road, there’s hasn’t been much action.

That could soon change.

Not tomorrow. But soon.

newsroom@burnabynewsleader.com

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