Rising River District ramps up residential development

120-acre site has hundreds of homes, more than 1,250 homes in development and thousands more later   

The River District is expected to eventually have 7,000 homes and up to 17,000 residents

Vancouver’s newest riverfront community is rapidly taking shape on a 120-acre site in southeast Vancouver with hundreds of homes built, more than 1,250 in development and thousands more anticipated.

Approximately 7,000 homes, housing up to 17,000 people, are expected eventually in the River District, which is bounded by Boundary Road, Marine Way, Kerr Street and the Fraser River.

Developers earlier this year spent millions of dollars to complete improvements to Marine Way, including new traffic signals and more than a kilometre of medians with shrubs. They’re now poised to develop a town square that will add 160,000 square feet of retail space.

“This site was one of the largest, if not the largest, rezoning since the Expo lands,” Wesgroup senior vice-president Beau Jarvis told Business in Vancouver. “It took about 10 years to obtain the zoning and get an official development plan with the City of Vancouver while working with the community.”

Polygon Homes bought about 15 acres of the site in 2010.

In 2012, it was first off the mark by selling and recently completing 234 homes in the area once known as East Fraserlands.

Polygon expects to finish building another 156 pre-sold homes by summer and recently started selling another 145 homes in a development it calls Rhythm. The company expects to break ground on that project in the spring.

Polygon is also in the early planning stages of two more River District projects that combine to have 250 homes.

The site’s master developer, Wesgroup, has even more ambitious plans.

While most of Polygon’s homes are townhomes or in low- to mid-rise buildings, Wesgroup’s near-term plans include developing 700 homes in two towers – a mid-rise and one that is slated to be 18 storeys.

“We’re moving forward with the town square,” Jarvis said. “Maybe a quarter of the land is developed, but, in terms of density, there’s much less than a quarter of the site developed because there’s some higher-density stuff that we get into as we get closer to the town square.”

The town square will be accessible from Marine Way and include about 140,000 square feet of retail space with 20,000 additional square feet on a second floor, making it potential office space.

Wesgroup has yet to receive its development permits but Jarvis expects “prior-to” letters from the city some time this month. Wesgroup could then file disclosure statements, launch its project and start marketing real estate.

Its 700 homes are likely to be a mix of townhomes and units with one, two and three bedrooms.

While Wesgroup is the site’s overall master developer, its ParkLane Homes sister company was a partner on Polygon’s projects and has the same principals as Wesgroup.

“To date, most of our buyers come from the immediate neighbourhood of South Vancouver,” Polygon CEO Neil Chrystal told BIV. •