On Monday, Burnaby City Council authorized public consultation on the preliminary vision for Buchanan West, a new master-planned community in the Brentwood neighbourhood, marking one of the first significant step towards yet another large-scale redevelopment in the area.
The targeted area is a 10.68-acre site bound by Halifax Street and Lougheed Highway to the north and south, Gilmore Avenue to the west, and Douglas Road and Madison Avenue to the east. It's currently a low-rise commercial area, home to an Executive Suites Hotel, a Club16 Trevor Linden Fitness, a Staples, a Sleep Country, as well as a Cactus Club Cafe, Tim Hortons, and White Spot.
No specific development proposals have been submitted, but the City has shown increased interest in redeveloping the area, citing a variety of reasons.
An official council report described the Burnaby Buchanan West site as an "underutilized commercial area," and at the January 23 council meeting in which the report was discussed, Councillor Pietro Calendino said the retail square was "not very appealing to look at."
One other reason for the interest in redeveloping the area is its prime location. Aside from being just two blocks away from the Amazing Brentwood, the area is also between two SkyTrain stations -- the Millennium Line's Gilmore Station and Brentwood Town Centre Station.
The Staples on 4265 Lougheed Highway, left of Madison Avenue. (First Capital)
"Given its strategic location within the Brentwood Town Centre," City staff said in the report, "this site's redevelopment presents a significant opportunity to create not only transit-oriented development, but a vibrant and walkable mixed use neighbourhood that is seamlessly integrated within the broader urban fabric of the Town Centre via a rational network of streets, connections, and open spaces, as well complimentary land uses that help deliver the necessary housing and local services for the Brentwood community."
Ownership of the site is currently split amongst six groups -- one of the reasons why no progress has been made, despite previous discussions of redevelopment.
First Capital Asset Management, the owner of the Staples at 4265 Lougheed Highway, previously submitted an application to the City to "establish a mixed-use development concept for the subject site, and a community plan amendment for mixed-use development for the area." The application progressed to a Second Reading in September 2020 and has not progressed since then.
Conceptual sketch of Buchanan West. (City of Burnaby)
In its report, City staff said that the split ownership could be a benefit that allows for each group to advance their own redevelopment applications, allowing the area to be transformed with a "flexible phasing approach" while the City ensures "a cohesive form and character for the area," rather than redeveloping the large site all at once.
At the council meeting, councillors also discussed the potential for consolidation, and the hope is that this week's decision could also serve as a potential catalyst for that.
Staff said that Buchanan West is "envisioned to accommodate up to 12 mixed-use residential and commercial towers, a new centrally located neighbourhood park, two new streets linking Buchanan Street to Gilmore Avenue, and Lougheed Highway to Halifax Street, as well a range of public realm and infrastructure upgrades."
"At full build out, the concept is estimated to provide upwards of 6,000 homes catering to a range of age cohorts and income levels, as well as the potential for thousands of jobs in the retail, hospitality, and knowledge-based industries," City staff added.
Preliminary conceptual sketches of Buchanan West. (City of Burnaby)
Buchanan West would be the latest in an extensive list of master-planned communities just in the Brentwood area of Burnaby alone. After the Brentwood Town Centre Development Plan was adopted in 1996, the area has seen continuous redevelopment, with a particularly strong wave in the last decade, centered around the redevelopment of Brentwood Mall into The Amazing Brentwood.
Also ongoing is the Brentwood Block project being developed by Grosvenor, Brentwood West by Bosa Development, and South Yards by Anthem Properties, all of which are mixed-use communities with numerous high-rise buildings and thousands of residential units.
The City of Burnaby will be hosting an open house where attendees can learn about the proposed vision for Buchanan West on Thursday, February 9, from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Willingdon Community Centre.
This article was updated on January 26 after the City announced details regarding the open house.