Concert CEO likes long-term planned developments | RENX


Heart of Burquitlam, which features the recently launched 50-story Myriad condominium tower and a 31-story rental tower under construction. (Courtesy of Concert Properties)

Building a planned community can take a whole career in the development industry, but Concert properties ” President and CEO Brian McCauley says the gain is a full pipeline of projects.

“This creates a predictable development pipeline over a long period of time,” McCauley told RENX. “That’s why planned communities are our interest. “

Concert has 10 planned communities either completed or underway in the markets of Vancouver, Victoria and Toronto.

One of the main areas of focus for the company right now is in Coquitlam, where work is underway on the planned community in the heart of Burquitlam.

The development includes the new Bettie Allard YMCA, the recently launched 50 story Myriad condominium tower – with presales slated for October – and a 31-story rental tower under construction.

The latter building, which includes funding from the federal and municipal governments, is expected to be completed in 2023.

Six other towers, both rental and condominium, are proposed for a separate master plan site on nearby Cottonwood Avenue, currently a rental community called Pentecost Gardens.

These sites will give Concert approximately 10 to 12 years of mixed-use development opportunities in the neighborhood.

Concert builds both rentals and condos

Concert communities typically include a mix of purpose-built rental units and condominiums, along with amenities and commercial uses that complement the residential room.

Another advantage of planned communities is that they are a more creative and holistic endeavor than a single site project, McCauley said.

“If you’re lucky enough to be able to bring together a large enough set of properties, then you can really think of roads, parks, daycares, schools, housing, business development and offices,” he said. .

“It’s really a unique opportunity to plan for a full community and for us at Concert one of the things that’s fascinating about it is that it gives us the chance to nurture the different lines of business in which we are today.

“We are in condominium for sale, we are in specially designed rental, we are in residences and retirement homes, offices and industrial properties.

“When you get a property big enough in the right location, it gives you the flexibility to provide all of those uses at varying percentages as part of your development.

“And it’s fascinating, because when all of us in the development industry are just looking for opportunities on a single site that present themselves in the market, it’s really limited more often than not to a very specific use that you can. put on this site.

“It could be a high rise condominium tower or a high rise rental tower, but it offers no other option to build a variety of uses.

Planned communities require patience

However, these are projects that require patience. McCauley, an architect by training, assumed the role of director of development for the company’s first planned community, Collingwood Village, in 1994, the year the project began. Concert completed the last building in 2006.

“What’s attractive about them is that they are opportunities for transformational change,” said McCauley.

“Typically there are very few opportunities left to create new fields, but their previous use is no longer relevant and they give you the opportunity to comprehensively plan and redesign a discrete number of acres. “

The challenge, of course, is acquiring this acreage.

Since urban land is limited, communities that often have a master plan have grown out of underutilized industrial properties, such as Olympic Village Vancouver, False Creek South as well as the north side of False Creek.

Concert recently launched the first phase of a former waterfront industrial land in North Vancouver, a four-phase 12-acre community called North Harbor that will include approximately 18 mid-rise buildings.

In the 1990s, she developed her second master plan community, Arbutus Walk, on the west side of Vancouver, the former site of the Carling O’Keefe Brewery.

More recently, large plots have opened up through shopping centers and sawmills which have lost their usefulness.

When the recession hit in 2008, McCauley said more and more commercial landowners realized their sites had become obsolete, that the future belonged to integrated mixed-use density.

Old refurbished shopping centers

In Metro Vancouver, former malls that have grown into major master plan communities include Oakridge Center, Brentwood Town Center, and Lougheed Mall.

“These are currently the next generation of land opportunities where they were underutilized, automotive-oriented surface parking lots, which were well-located, transit-focused sites that could be redeveloped. Almost every one of our sites we work on is an urban transit-focused infill site, ”he added.

The process is intensely collaborative, often involving all levels of government, politicians, nonprofit housing groups and other experts who share big ideas on community planning.

“We’ve been doing community master plans for a long time, but we’ve really increased our interest in buying larger land dating back to 2010, 2011, 2012, and what we have on our plate today is a series of large-scale operations, multi-phased projects, ”said McCauley.

“But they took a long time to go through the municipal approval process. Often times in a large-scale assembly like this, you have to make a formal change to the community plan, then go through a rezoning process, followed by a step-by-step development permit application. It is therefore a long way to go. “

Concert completed four planned communities, including Collingwood Village and Arbutus Walk in Vancouver, Capital Park in Victoria, and Village Gate West in Toronto. He’s building the final phase of The Creek, next to Science World in Vancouver, a five-building site that fits into the community plan on the south side of False Creek.

Its 12-acre North Harbor project on the North Vancouver waterfront has been under construction for 26 years. For the community of North Harbor, Concert purchased the 12-acre waterfront site in North Vancouver in 1995, but it was not formally amended to the community plan and requested for rezoning until 2016. .

Construction of the first phase began this year.

Additions to Concert rental assets

Besides the Heart of Burquitlam project, Concert is also working on The Kip District in Toronto.

In partnership with the Peterson Group, the company is requesting the rezoning of 21 acres of residential land at 57th Avenue and Cambie in Metro Vancouver, a large purpose-built rental neighborhood.

They engaged the community and developed a policy statement to guide the potential redevelopment of the site after council approved a planning program in 2013.

“It’s a long journey,” McCauley said.

As Concert builds each phase of its planned communities, it adds more residential rental units to its portfolio. McCauley strongly believes that more supply is needed to address the affordability crisis, as well as government assistance for low-income tenants.

“We currently own 5,000 rental units across the country. And in this development pipeline, we think we’ll have about 3,000 more between Vancouver and Toronto. “


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