Describing a development as a “legacy project” tends to get overused in real estate, but when the partners behind the proposed master-plan redevelopment of Lansdowne Centre in Richmond, B.C., describe it as a legacy maker, it feels like they mean it.
Vanprop Investments has owned the shopping centre at 5300 No. 3 Rd. for more than 40 years. CEO Kevin Hoffman told RENX this week Lansdowne is the company's only commercial property and development project.
Vanprop has entered a joint venture with Bosa Properties for the first phase of the major redevelopment at Lansdowne. Vanprop is aiming to put the shopping centre on a course to grow and evolve over the next several decades, cementing the property’s significance for the private, family-owned company.
The development team has submitted a rezoning application for Phase 1 which, if approved, would begin the mall’s transformation from an indoor mall to a mixed-use community with retail, entertainment, restaurants, public spaces, a new community amenity and 1,075 homes comprising three buildings. If approved, construction of Phase 1 could begin in March 2025.
Richmond council approved the Lansdowne Master Plan in March 2021. In conjunction with the existing Official Community Plan and City Centre Area Plan policies, the master plan document will help guide the proposed redevelopment at Lansdowne through future rezoning and development permit applications.
Vanprop purchased Lansdowne Centre in 1984, Hoffman said.
“(We have) a vision and master plan to renew this site over the next 10 to 20 years by introducing living, working, recreational and other exciting opportunities to this strategic property.”
For now, the partnership between Vanprop and Bosa includes only the first phase of the master plan, the partners said.
The plan is for the mall to remain open and operational during initial redevelopment. The shopping centre will be gradually replaced in later phases of the project to make way for the additional housing, retail and public spaces.
Phase 1 focused on housing, open-air space
In total, there are three residential parcels that will be developed in Phase 1 under Bosa Properties; two condominium buildings and one low-rise structure, Hoffman said.
The first condo building will have approximately 400 homes over 14 storeys and will sit atop a retail podium. The homes will range from studios to three-bedrooms. The second condo building is 13 storeys with approximately 375 homes.
The rental building will have approximately 300 units with half as market rental and half earmarked for Richmond’s Low End Market Rental (LEMR) program.
The first three development sites are anticipated to be built-out between 2025 and mid 2028.
Phase 1 will also adjust the existing site by adding green space and pedestrian pathways to the Lansdowne Canada Line transit station.
Future phases are expected to include a five-acre park and a two-acre civic plaza connected to a 53,000-square-foot public amenity space that could possibly serve as library or community centre for the city.
The existing mall will be removed in later phases of the project, ultimately being replaced by a new mixed-use retail complex of approximately the same size.
The replacement will be designed as an outdoor shopping centre rather than the covered mall that exists today.
Partnership provides rare master-plan opportunity
The opportunity to team up with Vanprop to start the redevelopment of the 50-acre site is a rare opportunity, said Wayne Vickers, VP, partnerships & development for Bosa Properties.
Bosa can bring its development expertise and construction partners to the project and help set the right tone and objectives for the site.
Vickers said Vanprop has demonstrated plenty of patience in its approach to the site and Bosa shares a favourable long-term outlook on Richmond and the region to invest in a multi-year, or possibly multi-decade, build out.
"We see Richmond really as a . . . very stable market," Vickers said. "There's a lack of rental (homes) in the market . . . and we're going to bring a different variety of products to the community."
Theme of transit-oriented mall redevelopments continues
This proposed redevelopment represents a continued theme in Metro Vancouver of large-scale revitalization projects of older, enclosed shopping malls located at or near SkyTrain or Canada Line stations.
The Lansdowne project has a similar trajectory as redevelopments such as Brentwood Town Centre and Metropolis at Metrotown in Burnaby, and Oakridge Centre in Vancouver.
All are projects amid varying stages of planning and redevelopment that blend high-density residential with office and renewed retail in walkable clusters near transit stations.
“Like any mall, (Lansdowne) must continue to evolve,” Hoffman said. “Vanprop . . . is investing in the future of the mall to be delivered in the form of an outdoor lifestyle centre that will offer a diverse commercial offering.”
Assessing economic prospects for the region
When you're planning a project that could take many years, or even decades to fully build-out, timing the market becomes less important, dampening worries over current headwinds caused by rising lending rates, a slowing housing market and recession worries.
"Everyone has seen that the market has slowed. Demand has lessened from a couple of years ago," said Hoffman, adding rising construction prices are also a challenge. "But I think that in a couple of years, things will potentially be different. And interest rates might . . . fall and we may see that demand come back."
Redevelopment sites like Lansdowne don't become available often and Bosa remains confident the long economic march of the region continues toward growth and stability, with demand for many types of homes always playing a role, Vickers said.
"We see a lot of people moving to the West Coast."
Large projects like this are often subject to various economic swings, Vickers added. "Any project of this scale, you're going to go through the ups and downs of the economy — and we just see (long-term) stability.”