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Hundreds of new rental apartments could be coming to Port Moody’s downtown

PCI Developments wants to build 857 rental apartments in two 39-storey buildings across from the Moody Centre SkyTrain station
PERKINS + WILL ARCHITECTURE Vancouver-based PCI Developments is proposing to build 857 new rental homes in two 39-storey towers across from the Moody Centre SkyTrain station.

A Vancouver developer says it’s time to take a major redevelopment plan for Port Moody’s downtown to “the next level of detail.”

Tuesday, Vancouver-based PCI Developments announced it’s submitted an application for amendments to the city’s official community plan and zoning bylaws to construct two 39-storey towers comprised of 857 new rental apartments — right across from the Moody Centre SkyTrain staton.

The proposal is the first concrete component to drop of an overall plan by a consortium of nine developers and property owners in the area, including Anthem Properties, Beedie Living and TransLink that’s been in the works for about six years.

PCI’s president Tim Grant said the group continues to work together on refining their overall vision to transform 23 acres of commercial- and light-industrial properties between the SkyTrain track and St. Johns Street, from Moody Street to Electronic Avenue, into a transit-oriented mixed-use community of more than 4,100 homes, commercial and office space, as well as artists studios.

He said proposals for specific projects from some of the other partners are expected “in the next couple of months.”

While PCI’s plan for the number of purpose-built rental homes exceeds the 300 to 385 market apartments originally envisioned by the consortium for the entire project, Grant said the market demands them. 

“We felt that the need to go entirely rental housing was really becoming loud and clear in the community,” he said, adding 40 of the apartments will be available at below-market rates.

“It’s something that’s really needed.”

Other elements of PCI’s proposal include:

  • a new pedestrian overpass connecting to Murray Street
  • an outdoor plaza for community events
  • street-level retail spaces
  • full-size grocery store
  • low-cost artist studios
  • the daylighting of Slaughterhouse/Dallas Creek between Spring Street and the railroad tracks

Grant said the project “ticks all the boxes” the City of Port Moody has indicated it wants fulfilled through more than six years of consultation and negotiation.

He said it presents a “unique opportunity” to transform “obsolete warehouse buildings and surface parking” into new housing and “extensive public realm improvements.”

He added the “project is an opportunity for Port Moody to show the rest of the region the city is ready to not just pull its weight, but to lead in meeting the goals of the Regional Growth Strategy.”

In May, provincial Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon announced Port Moody, along with nine other cities, would be under the microscope to meet targets for constructing new housing.

The consortium first unveiled its preliminary concept for the neighbourhood during a series of invitation-only workshops in September 2019.

But the reception from Port Moody council was anything but warm.

Former Mayor Rob Vagramov accused the companies of working “behind closed doors” while former Coun. Hunter Madison said the plan needed a greater emphasis on creating jobs, especially in the high-tech sector.

“This is what we should be discussing,” he said.

The disconnect escalated a week later when Vagramov called upon the consortium to focus its plans on “high-value employment” in technology and science industries, reduce the number of residential towers and provide more green space. He said the group’s plan to build more than 4,000 new homes represented a “worst-case scenario” for over-densification

But several months later councillors said they saw enough potential in the plan for the proponents to continue refining their proposal with city staff, including the preparation of a detailed financial analysis.

“It’s a start,” said former Coun. Meghan Lahti, who succeeded Vagramov as mayor last October.

Grant said Lahti, in her new role, has been instrumental in pushing the project to the next step.

“With this council and with Mayor Lahti, they’re really pushing us to come forward with a proposal that works for the community,” he said.

“There’s been more collaborative, constructive discussion.”

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