Beedie launches 16-tower Coquitlam waterfront dev.
Evan Duggan, (RENX) — Ryan Beedie and his team have been working toward launching Fraser Mills for over 15 years.
The 54-year-old president of the development company that shares his name says build-out of the waterfront commercial and residential master plan in Coquitlam will unfold over the next 15 to 20 years.
That means this project will encompass the second half of his career and will likely be seen as a major part of his legacy.
On Monday, Beedie, a family-owned business that has spent nearly 70 years developing residential, industrial, and mixed-use projects, announced the official launch of Fraser Mills on an 96-acre site on the shore of the Fraser River.
The site is at the southern terminus of King Edward Street, and just south of Highway 1.
The project represents the only waterfront development in Coquitlam and will provide public access to the Fraser River shoreline.
The site was initially planned for mostly industrial use, Beedie told RENX in an interview.
“We went through that entire rezoning process (in 2008) and had it approved, but quite frankly, what was ultimately approved was not . . . viable from our standpoint,” Beedie said.
“We had to go back and revisit it and tweak it, and come up with a win-win that worked for the city and for ourselves.”
Phase 1 at Fraser Mills
The first phase will include 300,000 square feet of light industrial, 35,000 square feet of retail and 2,100 homes, with construction of the initial industrial components starting either later this year or early in 2024.
The development will take shape on the site of the former Fraser Mills sawmill. Eventually, there will be 16 towers of varying heights, as well as low- to mid-rise buildings.
The total plan includes 5,500 new homes, with options for strata and rental properties.
It will also feature an urban plaza, child-care spaces, office, retail and industrial space, and over 16 acres of park and recreation space.
The plan also allows for a section of the site to be sold to the school board for a potential elementary school if demand prompts.
Beedie said it’s working with Perkins & Will, Perry + Associates and Bunt & Associates on the project while also cooperating with TransLink to boost transit connection to the community.
Fraser Mills will include at least 100,000 square feet of retail and commercial space including shops, restaurants and services.
Beedie envisions a community that serves residents and workers but also attracts visitors from around the region to enjoy the restaurants, patio space, public plaza space, waterfront, community centre and various services, including grocery.
The plan also includes restoring the wharf at the end of King Edward Street, a new Fraser Mills pier and a dog park.
The park and recreation area will feature sports courts for tennis, basketball and table tennis, playgrounds, a waterpark and an urban beach.
“We’ve got some really great industrial sites that form a big part of Fraser Mills,” Beedie said. “Job generation is key. There’s one side in particular that really focuses on office (and) there’s some retail.”
Beedie said certain companies will be attracted to a suburban location on the river that has a mix of services, homes and amenities. The retail component has been scaled down from the original plan
Beedie aims for aggressive build-out
The project was initially approved by the city in 2008.
In April 2022, Coquitlam council said during the approval process of the updated plan that Beedie would face penalties if it continues to put off development of the property, the Tri-City News reported.
Andrew Merrill, Coquitlam’s director of development services, told the paper council expressed concerns in the past about phased applications being postponed in the city. It wanted an agreement to ensure a timely construction process.
Beedie said last week the firm aims to maintain a strong cadence but will also be guided by market conditions.
“This is going to be an amazing place for people to live and we want to send a really strong signal out of the gate,” he said. “So, we’re taking a pretty aggressive approach.”
Other components of the development
The masterplan also includes:
- State-of-the-art community centre with aquatics
- Over 16 acres of park and recreation, predominantly located on the riverfront
- A pedestrian-only, riverfront plaza for community gatherings
- Expanded and subsidized transit services providing express access to Braid SkyTrain Station
- New bridge (Brigantine Connector) providing increased connectivity to the area
- Public art installations
Beedie says the feeling and motivation to develop this site hasn’t changed in the 18 years since the firm purchased the property.
“When I walk the site, there’s just something special about it,” he said.
“You’re drawn towards the water and the light . . . I can be downtown Vancouver in 30-35 minutes (and from) here to Surrey in no time. You’re really at the centre of (the region).”
Beedie got its start with industrial development and has a nearly 70-year history of building industrial and mixed-use projects in Western Canada, Ontario and Nevada.
Building a community of this scale energizes the team and reflects long-term thinking and planning, Beedie said.
“I’m turning 55 in a few months. Maybe by the time I’m 75, or something, we’ll be through this, and it will be a nice capstone to my career.”
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