Monday, September 1, 2014

Densification or not near transit?

With the Evergreen Line taking shape along its route from Lougheed Mall to Coquitlam, the debate over the merits of densification is taking place in Port Moody which will see 2 stations built within its boundaries.

With the Millennium Line seeing massive developments take shape along its route on Lougheed Hwy in Burnaby, with many more to come in the future, a similar trend seems inevitable along St Johns Street.

The densification process in Port Moody began long before the Evergreen Line broke ground as funding uncertainty delayed the long-promised line for over a decade.  With the line within 2 years of completion, the debate is becoming more prominent as developers are now looking at potential mega projects along the St. Johns Street corridor.


This story is part of a joint Vancouver Sun-Langara College project looking at the urban future of the rapidly growing Metro Vancouver region.
The cities of Port Moody and Coquitlam are set to fundamentally change their identities from suburban neighbourhoods to urban communities over the next two decades.
But that transformation operation is being met with very different responses. While many in Coquitlam seem to embrace the shift, some Port Moody residents are pushing back against the city’s development plans.
“Residents are being told that we must have major densification to support (the Evergreen Line),” said Hazel Mason, a longtime Port Moody resident and president of the Moody Centre Community Association, which is fighting the city’s official community plan. “We’ve got seniors that are moving out and we’ve got people who want to live in Port Moody that are forming their Plan B — it’s sad.”
The city is pursuing more transit-oriented development to account for the 10.9-kilometre Evergreen Line, expected to be in service by summer 2016. In the next 30 years, Port Moody’s population is projected to rise from 34,500 to 50,000.
Port Moody plans to densify around designated SkyTrain stations such as Moody Centre, the heritage commercial district (where Mason lives) and Coronation Park. Concerns include lack of park space, traffic congestion, overcrowding and stress on the city’s infrastructure.
But not all Port Moody residents oppose densification.
A group of homeowners in Coronation Park, which sits between Suter Brook and Newport Village, submitted a petition in favour of densification in the neighbourhood.
“I could live here forever,” said Rose McFarlane, who initiated the petition last November. “It’s not that I have a big desire to see development happen. But I think it would make sense if they’re going to develop ... this is the area to do it.”
That minority group of cautious approvers in Port Moody is a majority in nearby Coquitlam, where many embrace the incoming rapid transit line in a city whose population is expected to grow from 131,500 to 224,000.
Paul Heath and his fiancée, who live on Glen Drive near the incoming Lincoln Evergreen station, believe densification brings a unique feel to the suburbs.
“We love the densification of the area and how it’s got a downtown feel to it, but you still know you’re in the suburbs,” said Heath, adding that densification means a greater variety of businesses, restaurants and stores.
Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said residents understand that densification is necessary to support the rapid transit line that has been years in the making.
“We’ve always fought for it,” he said. “I think, in reality, a majority of people in Port Moody embrace it. They embrace the same kind of livable community that we want in Coquitlam. I recognize that some want it to be a small town and do not accept any of the new population, but I don’t think that’s a sustainable position.”
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Friday, August 29, 2014

Ramp to Brentwood Station removed

A few days ago, I noticed that the ramp to the Brentwood Station was removed to make way for the massive excavation for Phase 1 of the Brentwood Mall Redevelopment.  The massive site is nearly cleared for digging.

The only access to the station is now only from either side of Lougheed Hwy.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Solo District ready by 2015

The first tower accompanied by Whole Foods will be ready for occupancy by 2015.  The project has progressed significantly since Morrey Nissan, Milestones and Good Year Tire cleared out.






Sunday, August 24, 2014

Will struggling Sears stick around for revamped Brentwood?

With Sears seeing serious sales struggles over the past few years, the question begs; will it still be around for the revitalization of Brentwood Town Centre?  The anchor tenant, situated at the eastern end of the mall occupying the 3 floors of the old Eatons, has had a major geographic presence but low sales volumes for a long time.

The store seems to be out of touch with the retail needs of shoppers in 2014.  A quick search in Google News will result in numerous articles about Sears' struggles and about how it is currently exploring selling a majority stake of its shares after having already sold a large portion of its assets last year.

The Metrotown location will see a redevelopment initiated by Sears on the massive site that it owns and occupies there.

If it does move out of Brentwood Mall, what might we see taking up shop in the 3 level space the Sears currently occupies?  That part of the mall site is expected to have a relatively "quieter" commercial square which will likely include a supermarket.

Related articles below

Struggling Sears Canada swings to loss as revenue slides

Globe and Mail

Last updated 
Struggling department store chain Sears Canada Inc reported its ninth loss in 14 quarters as sales continued to decline.

Same-store sales fell 6.8 per cent in the second quarter ended Aug. 2. 
Same-store sales at Sears’s home and hardlines business dropped 9.3 per cent.

The company blamed the slump partly on a relatively cold spring.

Total revenue fell 12 per cent to $845.8-million, said Sears Canada, whose sales have declined for six straight years.
The company, which traces its Canadian roots back to the early 1950s, has lost market share to aggressive U.S. rivals such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Target Corp.
It has eliminated about 3,000 positions since November, closed many stores and sold several of its most valuable leases over the past year, including one for its flagship store at Toronto Eaton Center.
Hedge fund billionaire Eddie Lampert and his Sears Holdings Corp said in May they were looking to sell their 51 per cent stake in Sears Canada.
Buyout firm Sycamore Partners was considering a bid for Sears Canada, New York Post reported this month.
Second-quarter operating loss widened to $64.2-million from $5.3-million a year ago, Sears Canada said.
The company reported a net loss of $21.3-million, or 21 cents per share, compared with a profit of $152.8-million, or $1.50 per share, a year earlier.
The year-ago quarter’s profit included a one-time pretax gain of $185.7-million.


Sears may close more stores
Posted: Friday, August 22, 2014 12:00 am
By McClatchy-Tribune

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. - Sears Holdings said Thursday its loss widened significantly in the second quarter and announced it may close additional stores on top of the 130 closures already under way this year.

Sears lost $573 million, or $5.39 per share, during the quarter that ended Aug. 2, nearly three times the loss of $194 million, or $1.83 per diluted share, during the same period last year. Adjusting for one-time items, its loss was $313 million, or $2.87 per diluted share.
It is the ninth consecutive quarter that the once-mighty retailer has reported losses as it attempts to transform itself from a traditional department store into a member-centric shopping service driven by its Shop Your Way rewards program.
Revenues also continued their eight-year tumble, down 10 percent to $8 billion for the quarter from $8.9 billion last year, largely because of the loss of Lands' End business after that company spun off from Sears earlier this year, as well as having fewer Sears and Kmart stores in operation, weak performance in Sears Canada, and a decline in sales in existing stores.
The results missed expectations on Wall Street, where analysts on average had estimated a loss of $2.63 per diluted share and revenue of $8.13 billion.
Efraim Levy, an equity analyst at S&P Capital IQ, said he was disappointed by Sears' estimates that its store closures will lead to $1 billion in sales losses and only $25 million in improved profitability.
"With all the money they are losing, you'd think they have more losses that they could get rid of by closing certain stores," said Levy, who has a strong sell opinion on Sears Holdings shares. In better news, Sears was able to reduce its pension obligations, which frees up cash.
"You won't (see) a profitable Sears on the scale that the company is currently operating. They have to slim down a lot to get back to profitability."

Gilmore Station Development mentioned in NewsLeader

The following Burnaby NewsLeader article mentioning the Gilmore Station development by ONNI Group provides a bit of a glimpse into what we might expect there.

Photo of approach from the west dated 2012 

Major changes eyed for Burnaby's Gilmore Station

The Onni Group is planning a major redevelopment around the Gilmore SkyTrain station that will turn it into a "gateway" to the Brentwood Town Centre area.

The developer has applied for a rezoning to establish a conceptual master plan and a detailed first phase of development.

The property, identified as 4161 and 4171 Dawson St. and 4120, 4160, 4170, and 4180 Lougheed Highway, is almost 12.5 acres and located on the east side of Gilmore Avenue between Lougheed and Dawson.

While six of the parcels are vacant, two are home to light-industrial and office buildings and the largest is occupied by two mid-rise office buildings built in 1982.

portion is taken up by the Millennium line SkyTrain station built in 2003.

Onni is proposing a highrise , mixed-use residential and commercial development with a substantial office component.

It also proposes building a new public road linking Dawson to Lougheed on the site to improve access to the station and pedestrian-oriented retail on Dawson, said a city staff report.

The Brentwood Town Centre Development Plan adopted by council in 1996 designates the site for high-rise housing and business park development "with a high office use component."

the subject site is one of the few within the region that have the opportunity to be fully integrated with SkyTrain at ground level, mezzanine level and potentially at track level.
In 2002, the former owner of the property, Standard Life Assurance Company, received rezoning approval in principle for a proposed mid- and high-rise office project.

It was to be a new regional office for Standard Life and to include over one million square feet of office space.

 It also included a smaller multi-family and mixed use component along Dawson.

But the rezoning never moved forward to final approvals “with the applicant citing changes in the office market which made the proposal no longer economically feasible,” the report said.

Between 2004 and 2010 Standard Life tried to amend the redevelopment concept but one suitable to be forwarded to council never materialized.

The company sold the site to Onni last year.

The aim is to create  a “mixed-use gateway” into Brentwood Town centre that’s been long expected, the report said.

"While Burnaby has become a model for transit oriented development, including the Master Plan concepts for Brentwood and Lougheed Malls, the subject site is one of few within the region that have the opportunity to be fully integrated with SkyTrain at ground level, mezzanine level and potentially at track level, providing unprecedented access to transit by residents, employees, patrons and the surrounding community," it said.

"With this opportunity in mind, the Gilmore SkyTrain Station was purposefully scaled back in its form and materiality, so that in the future it could be fully integrated with surrounding development."

Burnaby’s planning department will work with Onni on a concept and Phase 1 development plan.
When it’s complete, it will go to a future public hearing.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Tough times ahead for drivers on Lougheed

The following notice has been published in the local newspapers regarding work along Lougheed Hwy beginning soon and continuing through to the spring of 2015.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Prep for excavation begins at Brentwood

Pavement is being stripped away to set up the excavation that will kick off construction of Phase 1 of the Brentwood Mall Redevelopment.