Coquitlam Central station gets student make-over

University students take part in contest to re-develop property but TransLink says it's in no hurry to put apartments on the site

As commuters scramble to get used to new transit routes and the Evergreen Extension, TransLink is pondering the future of its park-and-ride property at Coquitlam Central Station.

Any future development would have to incorporate parking and buses as well as West Coast Express and SkyTrain connections. And it could include retail, office, rental or market residential with the land being sold to a developer, as TransLink recently did with its 13.8-acre Oakridge Transit Centre for $440 million, said Guy Akester, director of real estate programs and partnerships at TransLink.

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But TransLink is waiting to see how Tri-City residents use the transit system before making any definite plans.

For example, the transportation authority wants to know how much people rely on the park-and-ride and the connecting bus services.

"We'll wait and see how much parking is needed. Do we need to expand or contract the bus loop?" Akester said.

Although development plans are five to 15 years away, TransLink would have to take several steps before getting the value of its asset, now worth $27 million, according to the latest property assessment.

He said changes would require approval through Coquitlam's planning and development process, including a rezoning, but any additional revenue gained from up-zoning the property could go toward TransLink's bottom line for future transportation needs while also generating new riders for transit.

Still, "the transit service and transit infrastructure is paramount," he said. "Whatever those needs are, we'll make sure it's accommodated on the site."

A group of university students from Vancouver and Washington will look at those needs and get first crack at designing a transit-oriented community for the property, with the possibility that some of their ideas could be incorporated in future development.

Recently, students toured the site before taking part in the Pacific Northwest Real Estate Challenge, the first time this contest has been held in Canada.
Akester, who judged the contest last year in Bellevue, Wash., asked the organizers if it could be held in Vancouver.

"We're in part of the world that's extremely well known for transit-oriented development," said Akester, who said TransLink teamed with NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association organization, to bring the competition here.
• For more information about the 14th annual Pacific Northwest Real Estate Challenge visit www.naiopvcr.com.

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