Brentwood Mall takes shape in Burnaby

You could say the Brentwood Mall redevelopment in Burnaby, B.C., is shaping up nicely. After all, the developer for the massive mixed-use project is Vancouver’s Shape Properties.

Shape plans to transform the 35-year-old centre into a mix of retail, office and residential. The latter eventually will consist of two office and 10 residential towers. The company anticipates the first phase will be ready by the summer of 2014.

Brentwood MallAltogether, the Brentwood redevelopment plan calls for 1.3 million square feet of retail, 500,000 sq. ft. of office space, and 6,000 residential units.

Shape’s executive vice-president of development, Darren Kwiatkowski, said land-use planners have been talking about such developments for 15 years, but with the extension of rapid transit to key areas, things are beginning to take off.

“Real market acceptance”

“Now what you’re seeing is a real market acceptance from residents, retailers, and more and more you’ll see office relocations to mixed-use complexes on transit. The convenience of the urban lifestyle has really taken off,” Kwiatkowski said.

To be sure, transit-oriented, mixed-use hubs are coming on strong in the Lower Mainland. In its recent Metro Vancouver Office Market Report Mid-Year 2013, Avison Young looked at how suburban office space is sprouting up in mixed-use developments throughout Metro Vancouver.

Shape says the SkyTrain and Brentwood will be directly linked. As people step off the transit line, they’ll walk directly into the “social heart of the community,” a one-acre public plaza lined with shops and restaurants creating an outdoor living room for the two residential towers flanking the plaza, according to Shape.

Kwiatkowski said Shape sees the growth in urban, mixed-use developments with a significant amount of attached retail. “Consumers are shifting back to a shopping experience that is more social,” he opines.

“Shopping online has its role. If you’re looking for pure convenience and price, you can buy it online, but we don’t think shopping is going away. It’s part of our lifestyle – but more of a social experience, including restaurants and a wide range of uses, kind of a real city centre.

“We see that as important in the future to the success of retail.”

The company’s current portfolio consists of 10 properties in B.C. and Alberta on 295 acres holding 2.6 million sq. ft. of retail and mixed-use.

Highstreet earns LEED certification

Highstreet, which opened earlier this year in Abbotsford,  B.C.,  is one of the first large-scale projects in Canada to gain LEED certification. The 600,000-sq.-ft. centre is anchored by a Walmart Supercentre, London Drugs, Marshalls and a Cineplex VIP cinema.

The company also owns Parallel Marketplace in Abbotsford, a 70,000-sq.-ft. shopping centre; and Nanaimo North Town Centre, with 643,247 sq. ft. of gross leasable space.

In addition to Brentwood, Shape has plans to redevelop Burnaby’s Lougheed Town Centre. The company’s plan calls for 1.2 million sq. ft. of retail as well as one million sq. ft. of office space and on-site residential units. Like Brentwood, Lougheed Town Centre would become a transit-oriented hub.

In Calgary, Shape plans to convert the enclosed, 623,000-sq.-ft. Deerfoot Mall into an open-air power centre and is looking to build a mixed-use project called Highstreet Calgary. The latter, with an anticipated completion date of 2017,  calls for 650,000 sq. ft. of retail and 800 to 1,000 residences.

Shape was formed in 2005 when four longtime acquaintances decided to start a shopping centre development firm. Kwiatkowski, who spent years in commercial brokerage, served as the development manager for one of Canada’s largest shopping centre developers for seven years.

Greenfield and brownfield development

Half of the projects were ground-up greenfield and brownfield development, according to Kwiatkowski. “Then we’re buying well-located, but under-performing real estate where we can add value.”

The company evolved from building shopping centres to developing mixed-use properties by hiring individuals with residential experience.

Currently, the company is focused on Brentwood, which Kwiatkowski calls a complicated construction site with six levels of parking and one-million sq. ft. of new retail and residential on eight acres right from the start.

Financing for the project is coming from Canadian banks, and the City of Burnaby was about to sign off on the project’s approvals. For Kwiatkowski, the timing is right.

“The economic conditions in Canada are good,” he says, “so from a timing perspective, it’s important for us to get started before things change.”


A multiple award-winning reporter, writer and editor for more than 25 years, Charles Mandel most recently worked as the National Observer's climate change reporter. He is a former Atlantic correspondent…

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A multiple award-winning reporter, writer and editor for more than 25 years, Charles Mandel most recently worked as the National Observer's climate change reporter. He is a former Atlantic correspondent…

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