Proposal for Towers Adjacent to Gilmore Skytrain Station
The developer is proposing to turn the area immediately surrounding Gilmore Skytrain Station into a mecca of development, with some 3 million SF of residential and commercial space spread out over 5 separate towers. Construction of a transit village, similar to the one being constructed at Brentwood Mall will occur over 12 acres of prime land. Developer Omni Group proposes close to 2,500 residential units for the property, including 743,200 SF of retail and 996,900 SF of office.i This proposal puts forth a truly mixed-use and transit-oriented vision for the lands that adjoin the rapid transit station.
A Look at the Transit-Oriented Urban Village Around Gilmore Skytrain Station
What is it Replacing?
The site is currently home to 4 low-rise office/light industrial buildings which will be demolished to make way for the new development. Omni Group is the manager of the two taller buildings which are 4190 and 4180 Lougheeed Highway. At 4180 Lougheed the total height is 6-storeys while at 4190 Lougheed it is 5-storeys, both were built in 1983. The building at 4180 Lougheed Highway contains a total of 86,521 SF of office space and is classified as Class B office. The building at 4190 Lougheed Highway is a total of 70,004 SF and is also classified as Class B office space.ii There are also two other 2-storey buildings along Dawson Street. One houses a Gold’s Gym at 4161 Dawson Street and the other houses Stanley Security located at 4175 Dawson Street. As we’ve seen with previous demolitions of low-rise buildings in other parts of the city, land values in Metro Vancouver are so high as to justify the destruction of relatively new and dense buildings.
Buildings at Commerce Court Along Lougheed Highway to be Demolished
Buildings along Dawson Street to be Demolished
A New Norm?
The construction of new urban villages at select rapid transit stations (Brentwood Mall, Marine Gateway) marks a pronounced shift away from traditional development patterns. The large indoor malls surrounded by a sea of pavement are a thing of the past, what consumer’s desire now are destinations that are directly adjacent to high capacity transit like Skytrain. This new type of development only makes sense; it will always be the land directly beside stations that warrants the highest and best use when it comes to new development. There is still a wealth of different stations that could benefit from this form of development, with many still surrounded by a mostly low-density urban form. It will be very interesting to see which stations are slated for further intensification in the near future.
Plans for Towers Beside Gilmore Station in Burnaby
Artist Rendering of the New Gilmore Station Development
Proposed Building at 1133 Melville in Downtown Vancouver
The proposal for 1133 Melville calls for a building with a maximum height of 524 feet (159.9m) and with a total floor area of 658,687 SF. It is worth noting that the tower will contain 287 parking spaces, it will also achieve a floor space ratio (FSR) of 22.46. The building will have a sustainability target of LEED Platinum and contain floorplates that average 19,978 to 16,673 SF in size.i At the proposed height, the building would be the fourth tallest building in the City of Vancouver and also the tallest office building in the city. Park Place on Burrard Street would be the next tallest office building in the city at 450 feet (137m). One reason that the building will be so tall yet only 33-storeys is that it will feature high floor heights with ceiling heights of about 13 feet (4m). ii
Heights of the Buildings Adjacent to 1133 Melville Street
What is it Replacing?
The site is currently occupied by a 10-storey office and parkade building which was built in 1982. The building features 79,236 SF of Class B office space on its upper floors, with a typical floorplate of 21,000 SF.iii It is also home to 291 below ground parking stalls and 286 above ground. Currently, 1133 Melville is home to AMEX Americas Limited, Flight Centre, Air G and BCBC. iv The fact that a 10-storey building which was completed as recently as 1982 is now being demolished for to make way for a much larger tower is a good indicator of just how valuable land in and around Downtown Vancouver has become. Expect to see similar redevelopment of low-rise buildings in the future as developers seek to maximize the potential of underutilized downtown sites.
Current 10-Storey Building at 1133 Melville
Is There a Market?
With British Columbia leading GDP growth among Canadian provinces in 2015 and 2016, it would seem that development of new office space is a no brainer.v All of this economic good news however comes against a backdrop of extensive building in the Downtown Vancouver office market. According to Colliers International, the overall vacancy rate for office space in downtown has gone from 8.6% in Q2 of 2015 to 9.9% in Q3 of 2015. This increase has been especially pronounced in the market for Class AAA office space which currently sits at 14.7% in Q3 2015. vi According to Jones Lang LaSalle there is a total of 2,720,000 of Class A office space that will be added to Downtown Vancouver by the end of 2017. They also forecast that during this time the market will only absorb a total of 1,450,000 SF which will drive up vacancy rates. vii It remains to be seen of the buildings of all these new office buildings will be able to find tenants to fill them.
JLL Analysis of Office Buildings Under Construction in Downtown Vancouver
View of 1133 Melville from Vancouver Harbour
Building Within the Downtown Core
Lobby of 1133 Melville
View of Burrard Place from the Burrard Street Bridge
Remember Jim Pattison’s proposed 54-storey Burrard Gateway tower which was approved by Vancouver City Council back in 2013? The two-building complex was proposed for the site of the current Downtown Toyota dealership, a block that borders Burrard, Drake and Hornby Streets. Well, the people at Reliance Properties are now selling units for their new tower while also offering updated renderings of the mammoth project now called Burrard Place. There will be a total of 1,000,000 square feet spread out across 3 building, with the largest of these being the 500,000 square foot, 444 unit One Burrard Place. Burrard Place will also be home to a 135,000 square-foot 13-storey office building which will house the Downtown Toyota dealership, as well as a 35-storey residential tower that will be located midway along Hornby Street.i
View of the Proposed 13-Storey and 54-Storey Burrad Place Buildings
What is Being Replaced?
The site has long been home to the dealership and several surface parking lots. It is also worth noting the few older Victorian-era homes which have managed to hold on all this time, these homes will also be lost in the redevelopment of the block. Both houses were built in 1904 and the developer has offered them for free to anyone who is willing to move them from their current site.ii The dealership will remain on site and housed in a newer multi-level building which features a waved glass shape, reminiscent of an open book.
Historic Houses Built in 1904 Along Hornby Street
13-Storey Office Building and Future Home of Downtown Toyota
Burrard Place is being marketed towards Vancouver’s well to-do, with an assortment of luxury services and amenities that are sure to make the residence a unique offering. At the heart of this is Club One which will house 30,000 SQ. FT. of facilities that include dining, yoga, fitness, spa and pool areas. Another feature of the building will be the Star Services which will offer a chef, event planner, DJ, mixologist and butler concierge to those calling the new building home. iii Burrard Place will also feature a Meinhart’s Fine Foods grocery store; this will be Meinhart’s third store in Vancouver. iv
View from the Corner of Hornby and Drake Streets
Seattle is the largest city in the Pacific Northwest and both its skyline and amenities reflect that. The city is home to a thriving sports scene and the shopping is the best, especially if you are visiting from Vancouver. Locals are always warm and friendly and the city is perfect for a short or long-term visit and it’s also not so hard on the wallet. Downtown is very walkable and compared to most major American cities, Seattle is relatively safe for tourists. I try to visit Seattle at least once a year and in all the years that I have been doing so I have never grown tired of the city, there is always something new and exciting to see each and every visit.
View of Downtown Seattle Across from Century Link Field
Seattle is a city of grand buildings and it appears that city planners have put together a skyline which is the envy of places like Portland and Vancouver. From the 76 storey Columbia Center (Seattle’s tallest) to the ever iconic Space Needle, the city of Seattle is a place of landmarks where it is always easy to find your way by looking upward. Century Link Field (Seattle Seahawks Football) and Safeco Field (Seattle Mariners Baseball) are two newer additions that have turned a formerly industrial area south of downtown into a new sports mecca.
Century Link Field Seattle
While Seattle has had a monorail system since the 1970’s, it has more recently added a light rail system to deal with growing traffic and congestion. The city appears to be experiencing a renaissance of sorts when it comes to transit as the Seattle Streetcar represents the third rail system for Seattle. While both the monorail and streetcar operate downtown, the Link Light Rail system delivers people between downtown and SeaTac Airport.
Riding Along the MonoRail – Downtown Seattle
Main Square in Downtown Seattle
Was able to visit Highstreet in Abbotsford and find some updated pictures of how the construction is coming along. The mall should be opening by Spring of 2013 and include 600,000 square feet of retail space. So far the main anchor tenants are Wal-Mart, London Drugs and Cineplex with 11 screens.
Entrance to Highstreet Mall off Cardinal Avenue in Abbotsford, BC
The downside of the Highstreet development as it stands is that it is mostly surrounded by the Freeway (Highway 1) and suburban single family houses on the other side. It would seem like a completely missed opportunity if there is not a significant stock of medium and high density development around it to take full advantage of it’s pedestrian friendly design. As with most other malls in the Metro Vancouver region, it is highly likely that some form of high density housing will be placed around it at some point.
View of Highstreet mall from Highway 1 in Abbotsford, BC
It’s clear in looking at the location and design of the mall that it’s main source of customers will come via Highway 1. Perhaps another large anchor will join Wal-Mart and London drugs to round out the anchors.
Highstreet mall as seen from Mt. Lehman Road in Abbotsford, BC