Tue. Aug 9th, 2022

Developers aim to complete the first phase of Oakridge’s refurbishment by 2024 | Vest Bank

The $ 5 billion, 5,500,000 square foot, mixed project to renovate the Oakridge Center is the largest development under construction in Metro Vancouver.

It was also the longest on the drawing board before construction started in 2019.

The plans progressed through various iterations, partners and owners since Vancouver City Council first approved a major Oakridge Center expansion in 2014.

British Columbia Investment Management Corp. subsidiary QuadReal owns the site. Its partners in the project are Westbank and Henriquez Partners Architects.

Back in 2019, the two-phase project had a relatively small first phase. The plan was to build half the project, where half of the retailers had to stay open. These companies would then move to the newly built space so that free space could be demolished to complete the second phase of the project.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed all that.

“We actually made Phase 1 much bigger,” said Rhiannon Mabberley, who oversees Westbank’s development team.

“Recognizing that we had a tough retail boom ahead of us for the next 18 months, we at least made the decision [in spring 2020] to close down the retail trade completely and bring phases of the shopping center that would have been in phase 2 into phase 1. ”

Only Crate & Barrel has remained open, and this is due to the fact that the dealer has space on the ground floor of the only building on the site that is not part of the conversion.

oakridge box and barrel construction

(Image: Security fence is at Oakridge outside Crate & Barrel | Chung Chow)

Because almost all retailers have left the mall, the completion date for the major phase 1 of the redevelopment is set to be completed by 2024, instead of 2026. The smaller second phase is only scheduled to be completed before 2028.

When Phase 1 is completed, Oakridge will have about 1.4 million square feet, making it the province’s third-largest shopping mall after the 1,573,600-square-foot Metropolis in Metrotown and the 1,500,000-square-foot Royal Park in West Vancouver.

Phase 2 would add approximately 100,000 square feet to the Oakridge Center. That would be enough to make it a draw as the province’s second-largest shopping mall.

“The mall creates the podium for the whole development,” Mabberley said.

‘Residential towers are growing out of it. There are homes at the bottom of each tower, in the sense that all the buildings are on top of the mall. ”

About 6,000 residents, living in 3,500 homes spread across 14 towers on the site, help provide a customer base for retailers in the mall, she added.

A community center of 103,000 square meters is another opportunity to attract visitors.

The same is true of the approximately 450,000 square feet of office space that are sufficient to accommodate 4,000 office workers.

When former site owner Ivanhoé Cambridge planned to renovate the mall in 2014, its executives were considering four levels of underground parking, which turned out to be a huge challenge due to an underground aquifer.

After Ivanhoé Cambridge sold the site for an undisclosed amount in early 2017, the new owner QuadReal decided that the redevelopment would be viable without a fourth level of underground parking because the site would still have 6,000 parking spaces.

To add accessibility, the development team has appealed to TransLink to have it build an underground corridor filled with retailers who would punch a hole through a wall and lead directly to the underground level at Oakridge – 41st Avenue Canada Line Station.

TransLink has yet to approve this plan, but said in an email that it is “optimistic that these discussions will lead to an agreement.”

oakridge construction - cc

(Image: Most of Oakridge is now a construction site | Chung Chow)

The former 574,000-square-foot Oakridge had been known to have a large food court, and the plan for the newly developed Oakridge is to have a 100,000-square-foot dining hall with enough space for nearly 30 vendors.

Scenes for entertainment will be located around the site. An outdoor street that is only for pedestrian streets is another attraction, as is the nine-acre park on the roof of the mall.

Retail consultant and owner of Retail Insider Media, Craig Patterson said BIV that he thinks Metro Vancouverites will flock to the newly developed OakridgeCentre because it will be an exhibit that attracts luxury renters, such as Valentino, who might otherwise have been located downtown.

Patterson said tenants are increasingly reluctant to set up shop in downtown Vancouver, largely because of the growing number of homeless, drug users and visible social problems.

He added that mall owners can ban access to people who appear intoxicated or who are otherwise believed to be causing problems.

While Mabberley said there are no confirmed tenants for the future Oakridge mall, other than Crate & Barrel, Patterson believes past tenants, such as Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Hudson’s Bay Co. (TSX: HBC), returns.

“It’s going to be the most productive shopping mall in Canada in terms of sales per square foot,” he said.

“Oakridge is going to be an ongoing success for retail, and it’s going to be the place for a while for people – especially when it’s raining.” •

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom

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