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Onni Group’s towering Gilmore Place nears Phase 1 finish line

At 64 storeys, tower will be the tallest in Metro Vancouver

Onni Group's Gilmore Place development in Burnaby. At 64 storeys, the Two Gilmore Place tower will be Vancouver's tallest high-rise. (Rendering courtesy Onni Group)
Onni Group's Gilmore Place development in Burnaby. At 64 storeys, the Two Gilmore Place tower will be Metro Vancouver's tallest high-rise. (Rendering courtesy Onni Group)

Just over five years since construction began on Onni Group's towering Gilmore Place project, the developers are announcing commercial leases and anticipating the arrival of the first condo owners at the Burnaby master-planned site. 

"We're very pleased with how it went," Onni chief of staff Duncan Wlodarczak said in a recent interview with RENX. "Economic times have changed, but (the first phase) was obviously . . . under construction for some time and it was really well received and sales were robust.

“There were a lot of pre-sales, and . . . there's not a ton of inventory left.” 

At 216 metres and 64 storeys, Two Gilmore Place in Burnaby’s Brentwood at the Gilmore SkyTrain Station will be the tallest tower in Metro Vancouver. The two additional towers in the first phase reach 51 and 43 storeys.

Wlodarczak said they're expecting the first residents to start moving in later this year, perhaps the fall. Then attention will turn to Phase 2, which will include three more residential towers and a commercial podium with office and retail uses. The subsequent phases could be subject to adjustments and additional design planning based on the performance of the first phases — and market behaviour. 

"It's hard to say at this stage, because . . . that'll be quite some time for Phase 2 to be built out," he said, noting his team’s confidence in transit-oriented development remains high. “These master-plan communities in and around transit stations . . . perform really well,” Wlodarczak said. “Year after year you continue to see strong, strong results, whether it's our project or others."

T&T announced as anchor commercial tenant

Onni recently announced T&T Supermarket would be opening at Gilmore Place as a major anchor tenant in spring 2025. The store will be 55,000 sq. ft, and the second location for the Asian-specialty supermarket in Burnaby. 

Overall, Gilmore Place will include 180,000 sq. ft. of retail and restaurant space on three levels, and 90,000 sq. ft. of office space along with an open-air public plaza.

Wlodarczak told RENX that New York-based Brooklyn Dumpling Shop, Kinton Raman, and Trees Organic Coffee will also be moving into the development. "The retail is coming together quite nicely,” he said. “I think as people move in, we'll see it step up even more.”

Gilmore Place will also be the site of a SkyTrain stop. (Courtesy Onni Group)
Gilmore Place will also be the site of a SkyTrain stop. (Courtesy Onni Group)

Having a grocery anchor will provide a boost for the commercial mix but will also be welcomed by the thousands of residents who will soon live in the neighbourhood. "T&T has got a great, unique offering, and so we're quite excited,” Wlodarczak said. 

Construction process challenges

The construction process has faced some challenges. Onni and its construction contractors were fined by WorkSafeBC more than $200,000 after “high-risk” incidents involving objects that fell from the buildings during construction, Burnaby Now reported.

And in March of last year, the City of Burnaby sued Onni over what it called “significant damage” to its sidewalks and streets caused by “cracking and deformation” in a notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court.

Wlodarczak said transit-oriented neighbourhoods in the region, whether it’s Brentwood, Metrotown or Surrey City Centre continue to see strong demand from homebuyers and businesses. "I think everyone across the industry and in cities have done a good job to work together to find ways to make these communities work.” 

Big hopes for other projects

Elsewhere, Onni is launching a master-planned community in Coquitlam near the Lincoln SkyTrain station. Called Pine & Glen, the three-tower, mixed-use project is located 1175 Pinetree Way. It will include a total of 922 homes: 745 market condos and 177 rental homes. The tallest of the three proposed towers will reach 50 storeys. 

Onni is also focused on a high-profile site at 375 East 1st Ave. in East Vancouver. Excavation at the location began years ago, but the concept has undergone revision and changes.

Today, work continues on the SkyTrain extension along the Broadway Corridor where the future Great Northern Way-Emily Carr Station is located next to the Onni site — an obvious boon for Onni and other developers in the area. The Broadway SkyTrain extension is expected to open in 2027. 

Wlodarczak said his team is preparing to submit its updated rezoning application for the East 1st Avenue site.

​​”At this stage, the rezoning is to include (about) 300 live/work units, (about) 700 rental units, approximately 200 hotel rooms, 135,000 sq. ft. of office and 65,000 sq. ft. of retail,” he said. "We've got a really interesting program there. It’s really true mixed-use.”

Broader economic conditions ease 

The recent interest rate cut by the Bank of Canada is a welcome shift for the market, he said.

“We're hopefully over the hump, as it relates to having a Bank of Canada tackle inflation, and it gives some confidence to either people looking for their next home, or renewing their mortgage, or certainly, new home buyers.” 

We’ll have to see how things evolve into the fall, Wlodarczak said.

“In anecdotal conversations with friends who are mortgage brokers and in (home) sales, they're starting to see some more confidence in the market, and so I think that's a good signal."

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