April 26, 2014

METROTOWN PULSE: How the heart of Burnaby is about to change

Perhaps the owners of Metropolis at Metrotown knew something when they renamed the combined Metropolis and Metrotown shopping malls in 2005.

The area around the megamall is becoming a megalopolis.

The mall’s 450 stores and services are already a shopping destination for much of Metro Vancouver. But today, Metrotown neighbourhood is becoming a place to live and work, too.

The most striking transformation is just to the west of the mall, where Beedie Development Group and Anthem Properties are redeveloping the old Station Square shopping complex that included a Save-On Foods, Future Shop and other retailers into a mini city. Construction of the first residential tower, 35 storeys high, with offices and retail on the first three floors, is underway.

Four more towers will follow. When the project is completed, in four to six years, 1,800 homes will be clustered around a new “high street” and outdoor plaza. Residents will be able to shop in a new grocery store and other boutique retailers, relax at outdoor restaurant patios, and gather around the signature fountain planned for the plaza.

A few steps east, Sears has big plans for its 8.9-acre property that includes parking lot space and its Metrotown store. The retailer has applied to Burnaby city council to create a conceptual master plan that would include five mixed-use, high-density residential towers, two office towers, a new flagship Sears as well as other retailers.

On the south side of the mall, tenants are beginning to occupy the new Metrotower III. The $170-million tower adds 400,000 square feet of office space, bringing the total for the three-tower complex to one million square feet. Beyond the mall property, more new towers are being added to Burnaby’s burgeoning skyline.

When completed later this year, the Sovereign will be the highest high-rise above sea level in the Lower Mainland. Its 45 storeys will include 202 condominium units atop the 169-room Element hotel offering an “eco-chic environment” and 5,500 square feet of flexible meeting places.

The tower, being built by Bosa Properties, will also have electric-vehicle charging stations and a bike loaning program.

“It’s fresh, it’s new, it’s contemporary, it’s sustainable,” said Bosa CEO Colin Bosa.

Across Central Boulevard on the mall’s south side, a series of new towers will be linked by a new transit and pedestrian mall alongside a newly renovated Metrotown SkyTrain station.

The $37-million transit project will accommodate the growth in the area since the station was built in 1986. It will also be flanked on one side by shops, open-air cafés, restaurants and even an art walk.

This surge of growth in Metrotown isn’t just creating new homes and workplaces. Density bonuses developers have negotiated with the city are funding new community amenities like a seniors centre on Nelson Avenue, improvements to nearby parks and the Bonsor Recreation Complex and office space for non-profit organizations.

Read more: http://www.burnabynewsleader.com/news/256725111.html

by  Mario Bartel – Burnaby NewsLeader