Coquitlam council advances nine-tower, 4,000-unit ‘game changer’ development

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A development that would transform a former Chrysler dealership into a residential neighbourhood over the next 10 years took a big first step Tuesday night as Coquitlam council unanimously granted first reading.

Dubbed TriCity Central, the $1.2 billion development includes nine towers totalling 4,000 residential units and 586,000 square feet of commercial space spread over seven lots at Pheasant Street, Christmas Way and Lougheed Highway.

The project is a “game changer,” according to Mayor Richard Stewart.

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Given that the project is approximately 100 metres from SkyTrain, West Coast Express and a bus loop, it’s critical that there should be housing in the area, and “rental housing in particular,” Stewart said.

After 40 years of failing to build rental housing in Coquitlam, council is now looking for ways to re-incentivize rental housing without the support of federal tax credits, Stewart explained.

Located on an 11.75-acre site south of Lougheed Highway and west of Westwood Mall, the project is set to include eight towers ranging from 46 to 54 storeys.

The unit mix includes approximately 3,024 condos and 1,046 rental units. Of the rental units, 893 would be market rentals and 153 would be offered at below market rates. Of those 153 rentals, 111 would be one-bedroom units and 42 are slated to be two-bedroom units.

In supporting the project, Coun. Dennis Marsden said he wanted more detail about rents in the below-market units.

The project also includes a 27 storey office/hotel tower with 150 hotel rooms and a conference centre.

Couns. Steve Kim and Trish Mandewo each zeroed in on the project’s economic benefits. At full build-out the development is expected to generate between 1,200 and 1,700 jobs on the site.

“That’s just great to see,” Kim said.

Mandewo agreed.

“We’re going to be having so many people going to work in this area,” she said.

Mandewo voiced a note of concern about traffic, asking if there might be some incentives to ensure the residents use transit.

“A lot of people right now are scared about all the buildings that are coming and they’re saying that traffic is going to be crazy,” she said.

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Coun. Teri Towner suggested some of those concerns could be assuaged by having a car share service nearby.

“We want people to get rid of their cars if they’re living so close to transit but, from what I hear, people still need access to a car every now and then to go visit their aunt in Mission or go to Costco and stock up,” she said. “Having car-share close is very beneficial for livability.”

Once finished, the development is set to include a childcare centre with space for approximately 220 children.

While he praised the project as “absolutely amazing,” Coun. Chris Wislon suggested the project could include a temporary childcare centre until the permanent centre is built.

Having temporary childcare during the first phase of construction is a “nice to have,” said Coun. Brent Asmundson.

Asmundson emphasized the importance of ensuring the project is economically feasible moving forward.

“We’ve got the office tower, we’ve got a convention centre, we have a hotel, we have market rental. We’re loading up a lot on this development,” Asmundson said.

Timeline

The project is set to be built in two phases and could be completed by 2032, according to a tentative estimate from city staff.

The project still needs to go through a public hearing and subsequent votes from council before construction can begin.

Transportation

Preliminary designs also include Yates Crescent, a new C-shaped street that would loop west from Christmas Way before dipping south and turning east back toward Christmas Way. The project is also slated to include Redwood Avenue, which would run from Christmas Way to Lougheed Highway, intersecting with Yates Crescent and dividing the development.

If approved, the developer would build a pedestrian/cyclist bridge over Lougheed Highway to the site. The prospect seemed to please Mayor Stewart, who noted the area’s current challenges.

“It is a very complicated manoeuvre by bicycle to try to get over to the transit station if you’re northbound on Lougheed,” Stewart said.

Park space

The developments is slated to include two parks totalling slightly more than one acre. Another parcel of land, approximately 0.45 acres, is earmarked for a future park.

Cash on the table

While financial estimates are preliminary, the project is expected to generate about $83.4 million for the city through amenity contributions, density bonuses, development cost charges and transportation demand management. The total also includes $34.3 million for road and city land purchases.

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