Point Grey in Vancouver has proposal for homes for 18,000 people

The year is 2050, and the Jericho Lands development in Vancouver’s Point Grey neighbourhood has just completed its final phase.

Imagine a city with hundreds of buildings ranging in height from low-rise to high-rise skyscrapers, all of which promote non-vehicular forms of transit. Residents, workers, and visitors will benefit from a new on-site SkyTrain station as part of the proposed future Millennium Line expansion from Arbutus Station to the University of British Columbia.

The Jericho Lands has evolved into a thriving mixed-use neighbourhood with plenty of new homes for people of all income levels and major new commercial space.

That is the concept for the projected development of the 90-acre Jericho Lands, which is bordered on the north by West 4th Avenue, the east by Highbury Street, the south by West 8th Avenue, and the west by Trimble Park. A combination of three local First Nations — Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh, together known as the MST Development Corporation — and the federal crown corporation Canada Lands Company owns the huge hillside site, which was once a military installation.

After years of planning, proponents and city staff unveiled the proposed scale of development and outlined two different potential options — “Eagle” and “Weave” — for how the overall neighbourhood and specific amenities and features can be configured and oriented during a launch event on Monday evening. These details are being made available in preparation for a fresh round of public comment.

The project might have a total floor area of up to 10 million square feet, with nine million square feet of residential space housing around 9,000 dwellings for between 15,000 and 18,000 people. Although the majority of the apartments would be market housing, there would still be a sizeable 30% affordable housing component, with 20% of the units set aside for social housing and 10% for rentals.

If built, this single development will more than treble the existing population of 13,000 people in the Point Grey neighbourhood, which is spread out over more than four square kilometres.

Retail and restaurant space, office and institution space, and amenities would take up about one million square feet of floor space.

The majority of the retail spaces — establishing a new retail district — are positioned in the northeast quadrant of the site, essentially as a westward continuation of West 4th Avenue’s retail strip in both designs. This is a mixed-use neighbourhood featuring retail on the lower floors and residential on the top levels.

Both the Eagle and Weave plans have three large landmark towers of up to 38 stories in the northwest quadrant, about where the existing Jericho Hill Centre is located. The “sentinels,” a trio of towers, represent each of the three First Nations involved in the project. There would be a mix of residential and office uses in the area anchored by the sentinels. Although the shop cluster is in the northeast quadrant, the neighbourhood’s heart lies at the sentinels in the northwest quadrant.

From certain viewpoints, these sentinel towers will appear even taller than their actual height since they are on a higher elevation than parcels of the site to the east.

Given the detour from the previously projected straight-line path that follows 10th Avenue west of Alma Street, such a site for the station would almost certainly have an impact on the subway line’s construction costs, as well as increased travel times for passengers utilizing the line. However, the proposed magnitude of growth would almost surely strengthen the already compelling case for constructing the UBC extension, as well as a station dedicated to the Jericho Lands. The proponents have stated that they could provide the necessary land for a station.

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