Mix-use buildings have become a means to fix density issues, supplying residents and tenants with the homes and commercial spaces they need to live, work, and play all within the same square footage. In Vancouver, one of the first to try this method in a busy urban center was the former Chapters location on Robson and Howe. And though many thought residents would be upset over the high traffic and noise, the model proved otherwise, as soon some of North America’s largest retailers followed suit.
“In the mid 2000’s, it took a long time to convince Whole Foods to go into the Cambie/Broadway location,” says Tim Grant, Vice President of PCI Developments. “Now it’s one the busiest locations, and since then the retailer has opened more mix-use locations throughout Greater Vancouver.”
As the city’s notoriously expensive residential market continues to reach well past the $1 million mark, suburban municipalities have become in high-demand, and many of which are transforming into their own busy metropolis. To accommodate this growing population, mix-use developments are thought to embody all of the elements a community needs to counteract the rise in congestion. These cities have become highly attractive to developers; not only do they offer less caps than Vancouver, but they also have bigger lot sizes and high density.
One of these is the City of Burnaby. Now connected with the Evergreen Line, many of the province’s biggest developers are quickly adding to the once-bare skyline, including the Onni Group, Beedie, and Bosa. In the past year, a new Whole Foods location has opened as the anchor tenant in the SOLO District by Jim Bosa’s Appia Development.
Surrey is also becoming a mix-use hub, with communities like the 10-acre Morgan Crossing in South Surrey offering a wide variety of tenants, including Suki’s Salon and The Gap Outlet, with residential units on top.
Morgan Crossing in South Surrey, Image Source
Meanwhile The Hub at King George Station by PCI Developments Corp. is designed to transform the evolving downtown core of Surrey. Adjacent to the Expo Line’s King George Station, the second phase will be a 750,000 square foot mix-use retail and entertainment tower with additional office and residences.
The Hub by PCI Developments, Image: PCI
Though Tim Grant and Daniel Lee, Principal from Northwest Atlantic, still believe Vancouver remains the most desirable destination to develop these types of buildings, mix-use is quickly rising in the GVA suburbs. However, Grant notes that developers will have to still adapt to the mix of urban/suburban, nothing that pay parking will not be accepted by the city councils – a very different attitude compared to Vancouver.