News Local

Richmond’s heart to get billion-dollar makeover

By Martin van den Hemel

Landsdowne Centre in Richmond. 

Landsdowne Centre in Richmond. GOOGLE STREET VIEW

Richmond’s heart won’t be getting a transplant as much as a $1 billion transformation.

In a process that will begin in the coming months with community consultation, Lansdowne Centre shopping mall’s 50-acre site in the heart of Richmond’s downtown will be redeveloped in phases to include multiple residential highrises, a 10-acre park, and a mix of retail and office space.

Jim Cox, executive vice-president of Vanprop Investments, which has owned the site for more than 30 years, says the coming of the successful Canada Line rapid transit service sparked the owners to consider redevelopment.

“We’re trying to create a sense of place … a place that people will go to for shopping, entertainment and events,” Cox said. “It’s going to be an urban village.”

According to the city’s Official Community Plan, the area between Garden City and Gilbert Roads, and between Westminster Highway and Alderbridge Way, has been dubbed Lansdowne Village, with Lansdowne’s former horse-racing property as its centre.

The mall’s tenants have been told the shopping centre will remain in place for the next decade, Cox said, but during that time between three and five residential towers could be added.

The vision is to create a pedestrian-oriented development, with retail, restaurants and office space nestled up to the No. 3 Road edge of Lansdowne’s property. That part of the development will complement the residential and commercial redevelopment that’s taking place immediately to the west of the Lansdowne site.

Also being considered is a direct connection to the Lansdowne Station of the Canada Line, which has already been done at Aberdeen Centre in the form of a passenger bridge.

To facilitate the flow of area traffic, three new streets, running north-south and east-west, could slice through Lansdowne’s property.

Cox said City of Richmond staff would like the new parks, plazas and open spaces for city events.

“The owners have a vision. They’ve owned it for a long time and they want to do something special with it,” Cox said.

Open houses will be held this year.

The Lansdowne property is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and the construction cost of redeveloping the site could top $1 billion, according to a commercial real estate analyst.