Capstan Way development is back on the rails

This No. 3 Road bus stop near Capstan Way is the proposed site of a new Canada Line station, to be built in conjunction with a master-planned community.  - Matthew Hoekstra photo
This No. 3 Road bus stop near Capstan Way is the proposed site of a new Canada Line station, to be built in conjunction with a master-planned community.
— image credit: Matthew Hoekstra photo

A largely-vacant City Centre neighbourhood long eyed for redevelopment is now the subject of two rezoning applications proposing to build nearly half the 3,250 homes expected in the area.

Contingent on approval is the developers' willingness to foot the entire bill for a $25-million Canada Line station at Capstan Way.

And the major players—Concord Pacific and Pinnacle International—appear set to ante up to realize a neighbourhood of high-rises from No. 3 Road to Garden City Road, and Capstan Way to Sea Island Way.

Proposals have come and gone for the area, the last failing due to a disagreement between the developers and the city. But the latest plan, the fourth since the late '90s, appears genuine.

Already, Concord Pacific has nearly finished a high-end presentation centre at the corner of No. 3 Road and Capstan Way.

Concord is proposing to build a series of high-rises—stretching as high as 15 storeys—to accommodate 1,245 condominiums over 3.3 hectares (eight acres). Of those, 61 would be low-end market rental housing and 20 would be low-end market rental studio units for artists.

Pinnacle International is seeking approval for a smaller project—200 units anchored by a 14-storey high-rise—as its first phase of a 1,700-home vision.

Concord dubs its project Concord Gateway; Pinnacle has named its Pinnacle Centre. The city calls it Capstan Village—a high-density neighbourhood to be built on old single-family lots where pedestrians are king.

Once the new Canada Line station is built, the city will drop its parking requirements to the lowest level, at one space per home.

This, according to a city staff report, is to "encourage reduced car dependence as per village centres elsewhere along the Canada Line."

But the station won't be built immediately.

Staff say most residents will be within a 10-minute walk to Aberdeen Station, but a "disconnected road network and lack of sidewalks and pedestrian amenities" may turn people off from the hike. So developers will be required to create interim parking plans in the meantime.

Developers of the area's first 3,250 residential units will pay a portion of the station's cost to the city at the time building permits are issued. For their part, developers get a density bonus, which allows more homes than usual to be built on the land.

"Once we reach (that goal), we'll have enough money. We hand it over to Translink and say go build your station, and any subsequent development doesn't have to pay that fee," said Ted Townsend, city spokesperson, noting the housing market will ultimately determine the station's timeline.

City council's planning committee heard details of the two projects at a meeting Tuesday, and more reports are expected. According to city hall's planning department, over 2,000 new homes are already undergoing rezoning review in the area.

The neighbourhood will be one of many in City Centre expected to absorb another 70,000 residents by 2100, according to the city's projections.

These are the first rezoning applications city council is considering for Capstan Village since politicians approved the City Centre Area Plan in 2009, a plan that densifies the landscape in Richmond's downtown.

And city planners like what they see. Senior planner Suzanne Carter-Huffman described Pinnacle's vision in a report Tuesday as "distinctive," boasting "mid-rise streetwall form, varied building heights, pedestrian-oriented streetscapes and publicly accessible open space [that] will complement the establishment of Capstan Village as a high-amenity, transit-oriented, urban community."

Messages to Dennis Au-Yeung, director of 0754999 B.C. Ltd. and Seoul Investments Inc.—companies behind the Concord Gateway development—and Pinnacle International president Mike De Cotiis were not returned by press time.

Capstan Village proposals

•Concord Pacific: 3 hectares (7.6 acres) along Patterson Road, between Sexsmith Road and Garden City Road; series of high-rise apartments; 1,164 market residential units, 61 affordable housing units; 20 artist residences/studios

•Pinnacle International: 0.7 hectares (1.7 acres) at northwest corner of Sexsmith Road and Capstan Way; development to be anchored by a 14-storey high-rise; 187 market residential units, 13 affordable housing units

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