Mall redevelopment in works in Coquitlam

 

The company managing Coquitlam Centre has begun initial consultations with the city over redevelopment possibilities for the mall property.

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And while talks are still in their initial phases, one thing seems certain: There will be more mixed-use developments in the area in the coming decades.

“We are imagining intensification of the site,” said Ken Moffat, an asset manager with Morguard, which oversees the mall property. “Expansion of retail. The introduction of some commercial. And most probably the introduction of plenty of residential.”

With a large parcel of land right next to a SkyTrain station and a short walk from two others, Moffat said the company is initially focusing on the northeast portion of the property along Pinetree Way, near Lincoln Station. Those projects could get underway in the next few years and may even include some purpose-built rental buildings, he said.

At the same time, the company will also begin piecing together a master plan for the entire site, which Moffat said would guide development in the area for the next 50 to 70 years.

“It is a very long-range looking document,” he told The Tri-City News, later adding, “It is not just driven by the coming opening of the Evergreen Line, although that is certainly an immediate factor.”

Jim McIntyre, the city’s general manager of planning and development, said the mall master plan comes as staff are preparing to draft the City Centre Neighbourhood Plan, which will encompass the mall property and all the way to Guildford Way, reaching the lower Eagle Ridge neighbourhood in the east. He added that Morguard’s initial proposals would likely include extending The High Street onto the mall property.

McIntyre noted the trends in shopping mall redevelopment projects, pointing to places such as Lougheed Town Centre and Brentwood Mall in Burnaby, and Oakridge Centre on Vancouver’s west side, which have been transformed into massive mixed-use neighbourhoods over the last few years. He added that these kinds of projects can be difficult, given the lease agreements held by some of the longer-term tenants in the mall.

“They have practical difficulties,” he said. “Some of the major anchor tenants have obligations in parking and view angles… You can’t have a big department store buried back behind the street. It can create some challenges.”

Morguard’s plans would also enliven Pinetree Way, according Coquitlam Coun. Terry O’Neill who noted that while the city has gone to great lengths to enhance the thoroughfare and make it more pedestrian friendly, there are only two doors that open up on to the street. 

A large-scale development might create more activity in the area, O’Neill said, and could even help spur development on the east side of Pinetree Way. 

“We have all that wonderful sidewalk space and plazas with nothing really on it,” he said. “It is sort of inviting.”

gmckenna@tricitynews.com

@gmckennaTC

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