Plans are underway to redevelop the shopping mall into the mixed-use community spanning 28-acres.The redevelopment of Oakridge shopping center as imagined by architect Gregory Henriquez reads like the set from Dune meets Ville Radieuse.
The ambitious project driven by Westbank and QuadReal Property Group builds on a more modest proposal by Ivanhoe (with Stantec Architects), which was acquired by QuadReal in 2017, and promises to blow up the traditional idea of the shopping mall and turn it into a mini-city.
Billed as a new municipal center, the project will take the transformation of the once sleepy Cambie Corridor, connecting Vancouver’s airport to its city center, to the next level. The area has already seen its traditional single-family bungalow typology rapidly subsumed by lucrative land assembly deals and multi-family housing, with small footprint midcentury houses on large lots selling for as much as $11 million. The proposed mini-city of the future will offer a mix of oblong towers and curvilinear low and mid-rises, carpeted in greenery and seemingly extruded organically from the landscape.
In addition, the project will provide nearly 500,000 sq ft of workspace for 3,000 creative economy workers and 1,000,000 sq ft of retail space. There will also be a performing arts academy, live music venue, a public art programme, a library and community center with daycare. External space will include an outdoor, pedestrian-only ‘high street’ thoroughfare, and a ten-acre park. The entire complex, promise the developers, will be powered by a district energy system. ‘It’s a place you may never have to leave’, enthuses Henriquez.
The mix of retail at the new project will shift upward trajectory, with luxury brands, top local retailers, unique local concepts, and first market experiences. There will also be space for some major anchor tenants.
The floor area of retail at the new multi-story shopping center will almost double from the existing 574,000 sq. ft. to about one million sq. ft., with an east-west galleria spine running from the SkyTrain station to the development’s western edge.
There will also be a new indoor mall area on the existing site and a pedestrian-only, outdoor high-street lined with retail running north-south along the length of the mall’s perimeter to the west. A new public perimeter road will also run on the western edge of the property.
A large 50,000 sq. ft. food court is planned, but it will be a departure from the traditional food court format with its ‘Kitchen’ concept.
Approximately 6,000 people will live in 2,600 residential units within 10 towers and four mid-rise buildings, with the mid-rise buildings dedicated to 290 units of rental housing and 290 units of social housing.
This optimistic civic vision appears to offer an oasis of urbanism in a surrounding desert of suburban style housing. Carved out of the existing 28.3 acre land parcel that was once a green, forested area, Henriquez plans to re-insert the original topography (the site is one of Vancouver’s highest elevations) by creating parkland, green roofs and terracing - including an intriguing plan for elevated winding pathways that recalls a Vancouver version of the High Line. This will lend the formerly flattened parking-lot oriented mall a sense of high tech hilltown.