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Vancouver TOD hub gets anchor office tenant

Vancouver developer PCI Group said on 10 September the city’s largest transit-oriented office tower outside downtown, Marine Gateway, had signed up its anchor commercial tenant, natural gas engine & vehicle engineer Westport Innovations.

Marine Gateway has a station on the 4-year-old Canada Line transit network, and the South Vancouver bus loop, which has 7 feeder lines, is also integrated into it. The development, under construction after being approved in 2011, will have 3 towers, 461 apartments (46 for rent), 21,000m² of shops & restaurants and a cinema, and 23,000m² of offices. Another 443 apartments are being built on an adjoining site. The commercial parking ratio is 2/1000ft² (1:47m²) office & retail, or one to every 3-4 staff.

Matt Lowrie commented on the Auckland Transport Blog (which brought it to my attention): “This is the kind of development that Auckland desperately needs more of, dotted around some of our key rail stations. It’s interesting how sophisticated the marketing of transit-oriented developments is in Vancouver.”

In the Price tags blog on urban issues, 6-term Vancouver city councillor and former board member of Metro Vancouver & TransLink, Simon Fraser University city programme director Gordon Price wrote that transit hubs are becoming the centre of business activity in Metro Vancouver: “According to Jones Lang LaSalle’s Vancouver rapid transit office index, business parks across the region are struggling with high vacancy rates as tenants move closer to transit & amenities. Buildings within 0.5km of a rapid transit station have 4.8% vacancy compared to 12.3% for buildings outside of transit, with some markets being higher than 20%.”

A Price tags commenter put a different perspective on it though: “…. the monocultural view of childless, coifed, professional 30-somethings in these [promotional] videos is not only boring & predictable, it is probably ga-ga wishful thinking on the marketers’ & developers’ part. May be more realistic to anticipate overworked worker bees in their sweats & flipflops getting take-out and heading upstairs for the couch.”

Mr Price wrote that the Canada Line’s arrival in 2009 encouraged the council to take innovative approaches to transport & land-use planning along the Cambie corridor: “A site that was once home to 60 jobs will bring more than 1500 permanent office jobs to the area, 650 retail jobs… Marine Gateway will generate 2-million transit trips annually.

“Marine Gateway, a $C370-million project, is the first major development to be approved along the Cambie corridor since the Canada Line opened. Its 2 residential towers sold out in one day, with 95% of buyers citing proximity to transit as their reason for buying.”

Links: Auckland Transport Blog, Marketing TOD developments
Fantasy TOD: How developers market transit
Marine Gateway
PCI Group

Attribution: Auckland Transport Blog, PCI Group, Price tags blog.

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Toronto looks at governance for waterfront renewal

International consulting firm Mercer Delta has recommended that the Toronto Waterfront Revitalisation Corp be turned into an “empowered development corporation”.

Mercer Delta was commissioned by the waterfront corporation and told it this was the kind of governance waterfront revitalisation authorities had in leading cities around the world.

Toronto’s waterfront corporation is an animal formed in 2001 by all 3 levels of government in the city – federal, provincial & city – to lead an estimated $C17 billion of waterfront renewal in Toronto.

Mercer Delta said its proposal would give the corporation greater authority & accountability to deliver on plans for new parks, cultural attractions, commercial development & new affordable housing on the city’s waterfront.It would be the master developer for government-approved waterfront projects and would have:

strong support, both financial & political, from all 3 levels of government
control of publicly owned waterfront land
necessary corporate authorities, including the ability to acquire land, borrow money and receive & reinvest proceeds from development
adequate, stable & timely funding from all 3 levels of government
clear accountability to the 3 levels of government, including a full mandate review every 5 years.

Mercer Delta concluded:

the corporation as currently structured doesn’t have the full authority to fulfill its mandate
the status quo isn’t sustainable
the corporation does have some important strengths — participation of the 3 levels of government, an effective public consultation programme & clear evidence that the corporation is a viable vehicle based on the progress that’s been made despite inadequate powers.

Mercer Delta said if the structure was changed the corporation could start work next year developing the first new waterfront neighbourhoods – West Don Lands and East Bayfront – and building Commissioners Park & Lake Ontario Park, t2o large parks in the Portlands.The corporation’s website has reports on the governanc, Mercer Delta’s proposals, precincts & consultation.

Website: Toronto Waterfront Revitalisation Corp

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Toronto approaches decision time on major waterfront revival

Toronto Waterfront Revitalisation Corp’s final plans for the 33ha first stage of the proposed $C17 billion revamp of the city’s shoreline will be put to the city council in October, for a start on work in the south-eastern Distillery District next year.

The Distillery programme entails creating a live/work/cultural district, with 5000 homes built in 5 years, a mix of tall & small buildings.

It’s discussed in a Toronto Globe & Mail article.

Websites: Toronto Globe & Mail, Fingers crossed on the waterfront

Toronto waterfront, council website

Toronto Waterfront Revitalisation Corp

Urban Design Associates

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Now it’s Ottawa’s turn to transform brownfields into lovable urbanity

LeBreton Flats, 65ha of riverfront just west of Ottawa’s Parliament Hill, is about to be redeveloped after 40 years as a camping ground, parking lot, snow dump.

“What we’re attempting to do is create a rather unusual & unique community,” Peter McCourt, National Capital Commission director of property development & planning, said in an article in the Ottawa Citizen.

Work is to start by June 2006 on the first 4.4ha development stage.

The plan, eventually, is for 2500 houses & apartments, of which 25% are to be designated affordable housing, 160,000m² of offices, 12,000m² of shops & 56,000m² for cultural & institutional use. 40% of the site is designated parkland & open space.

Last Friday, the National Capital Commission announced the shortlist of 3 candidates to proceed with conceptual design proposals for 800 residential units plus retail space in the first stage. The winner will get to buy the site. The whole residential development is intended to run through to 2020.

Websites: Canada’s Capital, Le Breton Flats page

Ottawa Citizen article, 17 May 2004: It’s all about the plan

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Rules changed to accommodate old garment district’s rejuvenation

Toronto’s ex-mayor & Yorkshire architect say putting on a cheery face helps economic growth

Former Toronto mayor Barbara Hall told the Urbanism Downunder conference in Auckland on Thursday the Canadian city “threw out the old use-specific zoning regulations and instead zoned by building shape” for the rejuvenation of a former industrial district just west of the finance district.

The King-Spadina district was once the centre of Toronto’s garment industry, which was decimated by the North American free trade agreement. Attempts were made to help that industry survive, but only a small part of it did, and the vestiges showed no signs of regrowth.

What changed King-Spadina initially, in 1996, was the illegal occupation of old warehouses by young people setting up homes. “We noticed artists were turning factories into living space,” Ms Hall, mayor from 1994-97 and a candidate for re-election this year, said in a conference keynote address. Instead of fighting the artists, Ms Hall said the city council built on the their efforts.

“Today King-Spadina is home to Toronto’s globally competitive multimedia industry and to the most expensive bars & restaurants. Old factories have been converted into condominiums. The resident population is about 7000.”

7000 units & 321,000m² of offices built in new chic precinct in 6 years

The council website says just over 7000 housing units have been built, or are in the pipeline, more than 321,000m² of commercial space has been created or is planned, much of it in former industrial buildings, and 16 development projects have included the conservation of heritage buildings.

Young adults with city jobs dominate the area, nearly 40% walk to work and about the same percentage don’t own a car.

Other Toronto subjects of interest to Aucklanders

Toronto City’s website also outlines other subjects of interest in Auckland at the moment — waterfront development, industry clusters and an economic development strategy.

The Toronto Waterfront Revitalisation Corp has initiated 4 projects to lay the groundwork for a new-look waterfront

It says the city council and the provincial government assessed 10 major industry clusters in 1999-2000, and said they now outperformed the North American average in terms of job growth. Importantly to Canadians, many were clearly ahead of major US metropolitan regions.

The city council has formed an economic development strategy over the past 5 years — not a workplan but pinpointing strategic directions.

Ms Hall and Yorkshire Forward director Alan Simpson, an architect who has worked closely on the revitalisation of 6 Yorkshire cities plus that area’s smaller centres &market towns, both gave attention in their keynote addresses & subsequent questioning to the importance of sprucing up a town or neighbourhood.

“Urban design is really about regional economic regeneration,” Mr Simpson said. Emphasising the importance of a positive appearance, he said the focus shouldn’t be on land & buildings but on public open spaces.

The Toronto City website elaborates on that theme in an economic strategy section, Quality of place attracts people & investment: “Toronto must continue to invest in & improve the quality of its built & natural environment, in order to remain on an equal footing with other cities that are the focus of massive reinvestment efforts by their state & national governments.

“The quality of our neighbourhoods, parks, ravines, schools, theatres, museums, galleries & urban design as well as our employment areas, roads, streets, sidewalks & public transit have a direct impact on our quality of life and therefore on our competitiveness.

“The strategy views the substantial physical infrastructure under our direct or partial control, as well as our social infrastructure, as strategic assets that can be leveraged to support economic growth and provide a competitive advantage over other jurisdictions.”

Yorkshire Forward developing industry clusters

Yorkshire Forward was established by the British Government to revitalise the Yorkshire and Humber areas. It has brought together groups called town teams, with representatives from the general citizenry, politicians & business people, panels to deliver expertise from around the world, and recently a pilot phase of development to deliver charters, master plans and public open space strategies.

Yorkshire Forward’s website highlights the 5 initial industry clusters, including the opening last month of the £7 million flagship Biocentre at York science park.

The Urbanism Downunder conference, at the Sky City convention centre until Saturday, has drawn about 400 people, including about 60 from Australia. The 1st of these conferences was held in Melbourne attracting about half that number.

Toronto City website

Regeneration in Kings-Spadina: Directions & emerging trends

Toronto Waterfron Revitalisation Corp

Yorkshire Forward

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