North Vancouver's Lonsdale Quay to get major overhaul

Quay to add bar and entertainment space to draw in evening visitors

A rendering shows how the food hall of Lonsdale Quay Market should look when a major renovation project is finished in June 2022 | M Studio

For the last 35 years, its rotating Q has been an icon of the North Shore. Now, North Vancouver’s Lonsdale Quay Market is set for a major overhaul.

Quay North Urban Development, the company that owns the Quay, is starting renovations, inside and out.

“It’s a pretty cohesive upgrade to the property as a whole. We're looking at it as the revitalization of a community icon,” said Quay North president Taylor Mathiesen. “We know how important that property is to the community and we've got a lot of changes that I think people will be really excited about.”

Outside, the exterior cladding will be removed and replaced with something of a higher design standard (although Mathiesen said it will reflect the industrial and waterfront character of the market).

Inside, the food court will be totally redone and expanded so it blends more with the market’s retail shops. The plans also include a licensed bar and live entertainment space.

The largest individual component is a new two-floor, 10,000-square-foot restaurant space on the waterfront side of the building. Mathiesen can’t publicly say who the new anchor tenant will be yet, but that will be announced in the new year.

The market will be staying open later at night, and management is bringing in arts and culture programming.

“So it won’t just be the gathering place for the community during the day, but it can be that evening destination as well, with a collection of really great and different food offerings and entertainment,” he said.

The rotating Q sign, of course, will be staying.

Plans for the Quay’s upgrades have been in the works for years, Mathiesen said.

The Quay celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2021. When it first opened, it was surrounded by gravel parking lots. Much has changed in Lower Lonsdale since then, Mathiesen noted, but the Quay’s evolution has been much slower.

“Lower Lonsdale has been growing immensely – the Brewery District, the festivals and concerts that are happening here are next level, the Shipyards, the Polygon, MONOVA – we’re really a destination of arts and culture, and events. and food and beverage in a way that we hadn't been before,” he said. “We've been taking some time to plan this revitalization very carefully because we want to get it just right and really meet that standard and that experience that’s being created around us.”

While most of the work will be done by the summer of 2022, the new anchor tenant restaurant will not be open until the summer of 2023.

Construction will be phased so the Quay will remain open, although individual areas will necessarily be closed while work there is done.

Mathiesen said all of the current tenants have been kept abreast of the plans for years, but not all of them will be signing new leases.

“We've always wanted all of the tenants of the market to be a part of this reinvention and to grow with the market, but the reality is, some of them just won't be able to do it for various reasons,” he said.

Entrepreneurs looking to start up shop in the updated Quay can contact management.

None of the changes in the multimillion-dollar project will have to go through City of North Vancouver council, but Mathiesen said they did voluntarily submit their plans to the city’s advisory design panel, which gave very positive feedback.

“Every time we talk about changes to Lonsdale Quay Market, everyone is just so excited. I think it's definitely ripe for an evolution,” he said.

Mathiesen acknowledged North Vancouver residents may feel a lot of ownership in the Quay, it being a hub for the community and often the first place people go after getting off the SeaBus. But, he promised, the changes will be greeted as an improvement when they come.

“We are going to stay true to the market experience that the community knows and loves,” he said. “All of your favourite elements of the market will still be there, they will just be improved upon.”