Janis Warren, May 8, 2012, (THE TRI-CITY NEWS) — The first phase of a mega-development that will remake the riverfront land where Coquitlam began more than a century ago is expected to begin next year.
This week, Dave Gormley, vice-president of land development for Beedie Living, told the city’s council-in-committee a number of changes have happened in the design for the planned 89-acre Fraser Mills waterfront village and those changes will require official community plan, zoning and development agreement amendments.
Changes proposed for the project, which city council approved in 2008, include building the main retail street as part of Phase 1, adding more public and private open spaces, increasing the size of the main plaza, creating more mid-rise buildings and redesigning the 330-foot pier on the Fraser River.
Gormley said the changes are a result of consulting architect Gregory Henriquez, whom Beedie recently hired. Henriquez is known for his work on the Woodward and Telus buildings as well as the Coal Harbour community centre, all in downtown Vancouver.
At the council-in-committee meeting, Henriquez said the Fraser Mills project “is something an architect only sees four or five times in his career,” and he talked about how equipment used at the Fraser Mills sawmill — once the largest in the British Commonwealth — and old heavy timbers would be integrated as public art and in building design.
Gormley said he expects the revised plans to formally go to the city this summer or early fall, with construction on Phase 1 starting next year and lasting two years; the build-out of Fraser Mills is expected over the next 15 to 20 years.
The revised plans don’t call for more density or changes in land use, Gormley stressed, and the original waterfront village stays true to the vision, which includes:
• 3,200 to 3,700 apartment units and townhouses in a mix of building forms, including 13 towers;
• up to 275,000 sq. ft. of commercial space (retail, restaurants, etc.);
• about 15 acres of light industrial/office space;
• 72,500 sq. ft of private indoor amenity floor space for the 7,500 new residents;
• 1.1 acres for a post-secondary institution (yet to be confirmed);
• 16 acres of parks and open space;
• a district energy system;
• green building designs and technologies;
• and enhancements to Como Creek and the Fraser River foreshore.
Jim McIntyre, Coquitlam’s general manager of planning and development, said with the economic downturn in 2008 as well as the leasing of part of the Fraser Mills site to Kiewit/Flatiron to build segments of the new Port Mann bridge, Beedie has had time on its side to refine its plans (Phase 1 construction won’t affect Kiewit’s staging area, he said).
“They have made a good plan better,” McIntyre said, while commenting on Beedie’s sizeable contributions to the city for the waterfront village, which include:
• $5 million for the city’s affordable housing fund;
• 185 new units of affordable housing at Fraser Mills;
• $1 million for pedestrian/cycling upgrades on the new King Edward Street overpass;
• $5 million in transportation DCCs for the overpass;
• upgrades on United Boulevard and Clipper Avenue;
• $500,000 for Mackin Park improvements;
• and $250,000 for a new lacrosse box in Coquitlam.
City councillors were receptive to the revised plans, noting they liked the better use of green spaces.
“They have made a good plan better.”