Oakridge Centre Unveils Redevelopment Proposal

Oakridge Centre Unveils Redevelopment Proposal by Zoe McKnight was originally published by the Vancouver Sun on August 23, 2013.

Plans calls for 2,800 residential units and double the retail space

Vancouver’s first mall, built in 1959, could become the home of towers as high as 45 storeys if the redevelopment of Oakridge Centre on Cambie Street goes ahead as proposed.

Conceptual architectural plans done for the developer have been posted on the City of Vancouver website as the project, a 11-hectare site at Cambie Street and West 41st Avenue, moves into the public consultation phase.

The surrounding neighbourhood is mostly made up of single-family homes, and most of Oakridge Centre’s original buildings were just a single storey. Woodward’s department store was two floors.

Henriquez Partners Architects are behind the design plans, which show the three phases of the build. Phase 1 would redevelop the street-level retail space to allow for Phase 2, which would see a second level of retail space added, and new residential construction in Phase 3.

The new residential space would be built on top of two-level retail “podiums” and it would be at least five years before that construction began, said Gord Wylie, vice-president of development, western region for property owner Ivanhoe Cambridge.

The tallest residential tower at 45 storeys would be built at the corner of Cambie and 41st, with other towers of 30, 36 and 42 storeys also planned. Other so-called “terracing streetwalks” buildings between six and 12 storeys would be built along a new street curving between the existing thoroughfares.

A total of 13 buildings would add more than 2,800 residential units to the area, amounting to approximately 4,500 residents.

A smaller development was approved in 2007 before the global recession hit in 2008, stalling construction.

The Canada Line was completed in 2010, opening the door to the city allowing greater density along the Cambie corridor. About 124,000 people ride the Canada Line daily.

The Oakridge-41st Canada Line station is at the northeast corner of Oakridge Centre and the mall’s owners Ivanhoe Cambridge asked the City of Vancouver to consider a new, higher-density rezoning application in July.

If approved, the Oakridge Centre will become a terraced, multi-level mixed-use complex with residential towers, a variety of office spaces and twice as much retail space as the current mall. Rooftop public parks would cover most of the low-level buildings.

The existing library, seniors’ centre, daycare and auditorium would remain open to the public.

All existing spaces would be built over, limited parking at the proposed site. Below-ground parking would be available with 5,000 retail spaces, along with 1,300 residential parking spots for about a third of the residents.

Car-shares, bicycle parking and even a bike valet are also part of the plans.

This summer, city councillors said they expected the greatly increased density would upset some residents while others would appreciate the added services.

The City of Vancouver has created an online feedback form on their website and public meetings are planned for this fall. Dates and times will be posted to the same website once they become available.

A rezoning application typically takes at least a year to get approval.

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