Vancouver Community College (VCC) has officially submitted its development application for a new Centre for Clean Energy and Automotive Innovation (CCEAI), according to filings published by the City of Vancouver on Monday.

The location of the proposed CCEAI is 1111 E 7th Avenue, a large surface-level parking lot next to the VCC's Broadway Campus and China Creek North Park, and half a block away from the Millennium Line SkyTrain's VCC-Clark Station.

According to the design rationale for the project prepared by global architecture firm Stantec, the parking lot is 80x120 m and the proposed building is 80x70 m.

The CCEAI would rise eight storeys, with a floor area of over 310,000 sq. ft., two levels of underground parking with 148 vehicle stalls and 176 bicycle stalls, and a floor space ratio of 6.32.

Sticking with the theme of clean energy, the CCEAI building is also expected to be LEED Gold certified and meet Step Code 2 of the BC Energy Step Code through features such as a green roof, a high-performance building envelope, triple-glazed windows, and a comprehensive water retention system.

In 2020, VCC completed its new campus plan for the next 25 years, with the CCEAI serving as the first new building to come as part of the plan, as well as the first capital campaign VCC has undertaken in over 16 years.

The new facility will house the Clean Energy, Automotive Innovation, and Creative Learning programs, as well as an additional library, learning centre, Indigenous gathering space, and administration offices.

"The CCEAI will also create opportunities for interprofessional collaboration with experts and learners from a range of industries, where they can immerse themselves in new realities and jointly engineer solutions that embody innovation and respond to a changing city," VCC said in a February 2023 request for proposals. "This approach provides links with the industry to provide a strong presence and visible provincial center of excellence in learning, teaching, research, and innovation."

A rendering of the proposed VCC Centre for Clean Energy and Automotive Innovation.

A rendering of the proposed VCC Centre for Clean Energy and Automotive Innovation.Renderings of the Centre for Clean Energy and Automotive Innovation at 1111 E 7th Avenue. (Vancouver Community College)

VCC also adds that the new building will act as "a strong position for future campus plan activities related to community housing, and other community redevelopment initiatives."

Details have yet to be solidified, but application documents note that the remaining portion of the existing parking lot is expected to be used for a phase two project.

In its Five-Year Capital Plan published in 2020, VCC listed three priority capital projects, with the CCEAI facility as the top priority.

The second priority listed is the "renewal and revitalization" of its downtown campus, originally built in 1948, with a focus on servicing the growing School of Hospitality, Food Studies, and Applied Business.

The third and final priority project is the "whole asset replacement and renewal" of the Dunsmuir Tower of the downtown campus. The building was originally constructed in 1981, but VCC notes that many components of the building are already nearing end of life, and the building is expected to be demolished and redeveloped, with the programs the building houses -- most notably the dental program -- to be relocated to the Broadway Campus' CCEAI or a phase two health sciences building.

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Regarding the CCEAI, the total project cost estimated in 2020 was $222.4M, with an annual operating and maintenance cost of $1.8M. According to the development schedule at the time, however, the project was expected to begin construction in Q2 2022, so the delay has likely increased the total project cost.

At the time, VCC said it had limited capital reserves and expects to contribute $10M towards the project, with the remaining costs coming from the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills, and Training (now called the Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills).

The City of Vancouver is accepting public comment on the VCC Clean Energy and Automotive Innovation project from now until Wednesday, July 5, and the Development Permit Board is scheduled to make a decision on the project on Monday, September 18.

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