A development project first brought to the City of New Westminster in December 2017 is finally set to continue moving through the development process, but now as a secured market rental building rather than the originally proposed strata condominium building.

Hollywood film projects are often described as being in "development hell" when they remain in an early stage of development for months on end, or have had their rights change hands multiple times, and that is essentially what this New Westminster project has been through.

According to a City of New Westminster Planning and Development Report from March 2022, the original development application was submitted by Vancouver-based Jago Development, who proposed a 29-storey high-rise with 222 strata condominium units, for a site that includes 810 Agnes Street, and 815 and 821 Victoria Street, just one block away from the Expo Line SkyTrain's New Westminster Station.

The property, and the associated development application, was later transferred to New York-based Brookfield Properties, who then proposed a 32-storey building with 327 rental units. Now, the proposal has been upped to 33 storeys with 352 rental units. The total floor space ratio of the project has also been increased from 7.20 to 8.78 and now 9.40.

810 Agnes Street - 815-821 Victoria Street New Westminster 33-Storey Rental Building Site ContextThe site context of 810 Agnes Street in New Westminster. (Brookfield Properties / IBI Group)

810 Agnes Street - 815-821 Victoria Street New Westminster 33-Storey Rental Building (2)The original proposal vs. the current proposal for 810 Agnes Street. (Brookfield Properties / IBI Group)

What has been reduced, however, is the number of vehicle parking spaces, from 262 to 169. Meanwhile, the current proposal includes an increase in bicycle parking spaces (528 to 550), a separate bicycle entrance and lobby for better accessibility, and unbundling parking spaces from residential units. The City says the developer has also proposed subsidizing transit passes for residents.

The one aspect of the project that has gone unchanged is the inclusion of a new community park on 824 Agnes Street, adjacent to the building site.

According to the City, the 824 Agnes Street site (also referred to as 825 Victoria Street) was previously owned by the Chinese Benevolent Association (CBA). The CBA gifted the property to the City in 1979 and the site has since been recognized as "endangered" by the New Westminster Heritage Preservation Society and is being considered for recognition as a Chinese Canadian Historic Place by Heritage BC.

The site was later converted into an off-leash dog area, and remains so, as the City has undergone consultation with various advisory committees and associations representing the Chinese community on plans for the space. The parties have since identified the space as one that should be used as a park to commemorate Chinese history, while simultaneously serving as a green space for the neighbourhood.

New Westminster 824 Agnes Street - 825 Victoria Street Chinese Park ConceptThe design concept for the park on 824 Agnes Street/825 Victoria Street that the City endorsed. (City of New Westminster)

Toronto-based IBI Group is serving as the architect of the project and has designed the building to align with the City of New Westminster's Downtown Building and Public Realm Design Guidelines and Master Plan (DBPRDGM), which provides guidance towards achieving a cohesively-designed downtown.

Under the master plan, the subject site is designated as part of the Tower Precinct, which is envisioned to be a "highly urbanized component of New Westminster's downtown, with the SkyTrain station at its core" and anchored by numerous commercial and educational destinations.

READ: How Metro Vancouver’s New Regional Growth Strategy Tackles Housing

"Where other precincts focus on Downtown's heritage assets, waterfront setting, and family-oriented needs, this precinct will continue to develop as a high-density employment and housing area," the City says in the DBPRDGM.

The City is accepting public input on the project from now until Wednesday, April 5. The proposal will then be presented to Council for a first and second reading before a public hearing, followed by a third reading before final approval.

Development Projects