Concert Properties’ Burquitlam proposal gets first glance

As many as 6,000 new residents in eight towers, parks, YMCA, park-and-ride and community policing eyed for the project

In white, the Concert Properties' Burquitlam Park and Whitgift Gardens proposals. Rezoning for the land passed first reading at Coquitlam council Monday night. A public hearing is slated for March 12 | Photo: Concert Properties, City of Coquitlam

Concert Properties’ Burquitlam redevelopment plan passed its first hurdle Monday night (February 26), providing a glimpse of what will be a neighbourhood of eight towers, a YMCA recreation centre, a community policing station, a park-and-ride facility and two upgraded parks.

As many as 6,000 people could eventually move to the area on Coquitlam’s western border, if the two projects seeking rezoning — Burquitlam Park and Whitgift Gardens — are approved.
Along the way, the city of Coquitlam is hoping to address many of its long-standing needs for parks and recreational facilities as well as jumpstart construction of seniors’ housing, rental housing and affordable housing.

And the public will get a chance to weigh-in during a public hearing at Coquitlam city hall chambers on Monday, March 12.

“With the Burquitlam site, it’s one of a number of highrise developments which are in-stream,” said George Fujii, the city’s director of development services. “But what will really transform the area, over and above the residential components is the new YMCA facility, the community policing station and the park and ride as well as those park components which will be part and parcel to these developments.”

WHAT’S HAPPENING

Here are the two projects — the rezoning was given first reading by council Monday night:

Project 1 — Burquitlam Park (579 Smith Ave.). The plan would see Concert Properties rezone Burquitlam Park, the subject of a recent land swap with the city, transforming it from a grass playing field and baseball park, to a multi-use development with a 50-storey condominium tower, the city’s tallest, with approximately 435 units and another 30-storey purpose-built rental tower with approximately 275 units.

In between the two towers will be a two- to three-storey YMCA recreation facility with a pool, gym, multi-purpose space and more. The cost hasn’t been finalized but $25 million in community amenity contributions from developers will be available for the project, with the city paying 50% and the YMCA covering the rest, plus operating costs.

As well, there will be a community policing station and a 50-stall park-and-ride facility, plus about 1.5 acres of community park in the area, which is close to Burquitlam Station and Bosa’s Uptown development.

Project 2 — Whitgift Gardens (530 and 550 Cottonwood Ave). This area is currently zoned for three-storey apartments with approximately 200 units still being rented and a relocation plan being worked out for residents. The developer seeks a rezoning to construct six towers — two 37-storey rental towers, with approximately 654 units, four market condominium towers at 24, 25, 43 and 48-storeys, with approximately 1,187 units plus another approximately 132 market rental units for seniors.

HOUSING

The city is hoping to see between 20 and 40 below market rental units distributed between the eight high-rise towers and is in talks with the developer and non-profit societies to find a way to fulfill the objective, according to officials.

“This collectively is, to the best of my knowledge, the largest single development moving forward in a companion application,” acknowledged Fujii, who said the city believes the total 1,061 market condo units, 929 market rental units and 132 seniors housing units, plus the below market rental units, will help with affordability issues plaguing the region.

Concert’s affordable housing portion, collected through its density bonus, is $3.86 million, which will be used by the city to co-purchase 20 to 40 units of below market rental with a non-profit housing group at a pre-negotiated sales price of 20% of market value, further adding to the developer’s contribution to affordable housing.

(A spokesperson from the Tri-Cities Homelessness & Housing Task Group said a position paper will be developed for city council on the affordable housing plan in the coming weeks.)

Meanwhile, the city has its work cut out for it to ensure the projects are dealt with appropriately and in a timely manner.

But the roll out will take time, Fujii said, and will depend on the market.

“It’s probably 10 years [to build out]. It’s quite ambitious but the plan for the YMCA is much shorter.”

PARKS & YMCA

A key component and a linchpin for the entire development, as far as the city is concerned, is the construction of the YMCA facility at the Burquitlam Park site, a goal since the 1990s, which will bring 60,000 sq. ft. of community space to the area.

The plan is to have it open and operating, along with the community police station and park and ride in 2021.

“It will be the community centre for the people here,” said Raul Allueva, general manager parks, recreation and culture.

The project is still in the design phase and there will be more information at a later date. But for now the project envisions that the YMCA will be a hive of activity, flanked by a 1.5 acre Burquitlam Park and a plaza.

Allueva said the Burquitlam and Cottonwood park enhancements will be completed in phases to minimize disruption to the public.

The city is expected to finalize details for Cottonwood Park in the coming weeks. With Concert contributing $700,000 toward the park next to Whitgift Gardens and expanding it via the land exchange of 2.15 acres, the city is envisioning development in two phases, with the first part completed in 2019, and the larger portion completed in 2020.

PARKING & ROADS

As for parking, Allueva said the details are being worked out but the plan is to create a pool of more than 200 public spaces shared between the park and ride, the YMCA and the community police station in the Burquitlam Park facility, with at least some of it pay parking.

The idea is that the park and ride spaces may be freed up during weekends and in the evening when there is the most demand for YMCA parking. At a cost of $60,000 apiece, the city will be putting $3 million into the 50 park and ride spaces, an amount in keeping with the city’s funding models for park and ride spaces.

As well there will be new roads connecting the neighbourhood, an extension of Emerson Street, south of Cottonwood Avenue, and extension of a new east-west road between Whiting Way and Emerson Street.

“This will be the network that will be the supportive infrastructure,” Allueva said.

• For more information about the upcoming public hearing, visit www.coquitlam.ca.

Tri-City News