Degelder Group

Project name: Plaza 88 Developments

Location: New Westminster, BC., Canada

Developer: Plaza 88 Developments Ltd.

Project Description: 1.2 Million sq. ft. mixed-use development comprising residential, retail and office use.
Unique feature: Transit Oriented development or TOD featuring above ground integration with the existing

New Westminster Skytrain station and bus exchange.

Website: which includes a live camera and a professionally prepared

movie shoot featured on the Family Channel

Site Particulars:

The development site is surrounded by Columbia, Carnarvon, Tenth and Eighth Streets covering exactly 5 acres

containing the New Westminster Skytrain Station, a bus exchange and an overpass connection to the Westminster

Quay development, a large residential community located along the Fraser River. The site is zoned C-4 allowing

residential and commercial outright uses to a maximum FSR of 5.2 or a total allowable buildable area

of 5.2 x 43,560x5 = 1,132,560 sq ft. The residential portion of the allowable area contains some limitations.

Development Particulars:

The site is bisected by the elevated Skytrain guideway in an East/West direction with the existing station located

at the east end of the site together with the bus exchange which runs North/South. The overpass to the Quay is

located near the West end and connects to the Fraser River to the South. A development approval has been

received to locate three residential towers plus a potential fourth tower North of the guideway and commercial

only South of the guideway. The commercial portion approved so far includes approximately 190,000 sq ft of

retail of which 47,000 sq ft is located within the residential towers North of the guideway while the balance is located South of the guideway. The fourth tower has not been committed as yet and a number of opportunities are being pursued in combination with commercial uses South of the guideway for the remaining density.

The residential contained in the three towers amounts to approximately 650,000 sq ft spread out over 655 condo units. Variances have been received for additional height to a maximum of approximately 340 feet which includes eight above ground parking levels and an amenity level on the ninth floor. The benefit of this arrangement means that even the lowest residential tenth floor has impressive views including those looking South over the Fraser River and towards Mount Baker, an 11,000 ft volcano.
Skytrain System  

The Skytrain system consists of the “Expo” and the ”Millennium” lines which, except for that portion built under the downtown core of the City of Vancouver,  is elevated. The newly built “Canada” line connects downtown Vancouver with the airport and is partly elevated and partly underground. Extension lines have just been announced connecting further suburbs with those existing lines of which New Westminster forms the hub as it is located in the center of the Greater Vancouver Area. Additional cars for the Expo and Millennium lines are due to arrive this fall increasing the present capacity by approximately 50%.

Station platforms are either located in between the guideway or, as located at our station, on the outside thereby allowing direct lateral connections to the retail galleries on both sides of the guideway. In addition, the system has no turnstiles allowing free movement from the paid fare zones into our retail. Although our present provincial government would like to introduce turnstiles for additional security, we are able to preserve the free movement by isolating the paid fare zones and having all the vertical transportation terminate in the retail.
The present system is being challenged by growing demand due to ever increasing gridlock which is the result of a highway system which does not extend into downtown Vancouver including the Trans Canada Highway which bypasses it all together. If one for example works downtown and cannot afford to live there due to the pricey but highly desirable condo market one is forced to endure the gridlock or to use public transportation which still does not adequately serve all the outlying areas. Ergo, mixed use developments located near or at Skytrain stations, particular those located in livable neighbourhoods, where one can shop and play, have become very desirable alternatives.


New Westminster Skytrain Station:

The Skytrain station facilities are spread out over three levels with the lower service facilities located at the bus exchange street level, the ticket platform at the intermediate level and the train platforms located at the third level all connected with escalators and handicap elevators. The retail has been laterally connected to those three Skytrain levels including the intermediate ticket platform and the upper train platform level with some more retail located at the sidewalk level as part of the bus exchange.   The sloping site allows for a horizontal street connection from the North to the elevated ticket platform which in turn connects to a newly created elevated retail street under the guideway running East/West. Additional escalators from this newly created elevated pedestrian retail street at the ticket platform level connect to the retail at the train platform levels while movators form connections to the three retail parking levels below with elevators connecting all levels.

Development Objective:

Being presented with the opportunity of assembling a large site around a Skytrain station and a busloop at reasonable land prices in a City which desperately wanted to revitalize its downtown core, was very attractive even 10 years ago before the housing boom.  After a couple of promising but failed development opportunities, the sudden eruption of housing demand provided the necessary catalyst for  developing this site to its maximum potential.  We retained Stantec Architecture to help us conceive an overall development concept for the site in order to receive a preliminary approval from the City after which we retained Via Architecture for its Skytrain design expertise. 

The topography of the site lent itself to creating an elevated pedestrian retail street tied into the existing Skytrain station ticket platform at geodetic elevation 11 m which coincided with the existing street elevation of the North East corner at one end and with the existing overpass elevation at the other end. Most of the site is at geodetic elevation 3 m except for a steep incline at the East end of the site where the station is located. This partly

covered elevated retail street forms the main spine of the lifestyle retail experience containing about 85,000 sq ft of leasable area with another 75,000 sq ft located at the upper train platform levels and approximately 29,000 sq ft at grade, the latter mainly tied to the bus exchange. Vertical transportation is provided by the existing escalators and elevators as part of the station and new escalators, elevators and movators connecting the three retail levels and parking below. The development objective of a seamless and lateral integration of the retail with the transportation facilities was supported by both the City and Translink.

In addition, the elevator lobbies of the residential towers are directly connected to the retail levels with corridors which serve as additional fire exits as the new retail street is also considered to be a street by code. Total integration of residential, commercial and public transportation has been achieved.

City of New Westminster:

Once the capital city of British Columbia, the City was incorporated in 1860 as the first city West of the Great Lakes which coincided with the start of the gold rush using the city as the gateway to the interior, mostly by means of paddle wheelers up the Fraser River. Rich with an impressive collection of Victorian and Edwardian building found throughout the city, New Westminster is preserving its heritage while promoting its strategic location in the Greater Vancouver area and taking full advantage of its location next to the Fraser River which produces approximately 10% of the country’s GNP. Plaza 88 is conveniently located at the city’s centre, encouraging pedestrian traffic throughout its lifestyle environment of shops and restaurants while directly connected to the well-established Quayside residential district with approximately 3000 residents and its riverfront boardwalk.

Trade Area:

Plaza 88 serves a trade area of 94,196 people which includes New Westminster and part of neighbouring South East Burnaby. New Westminster is experiencing rapid growth, with almost 4500 proposed new residential units in the next few years. The trade area is projected to grow to over 110,000 people by 2012. New Westminster has an average household income of $62,994. Household incomes in New Westminster increased 18.6% from 2001 to 2006, making them higher than the Downtown, Richmond and Burnaby Trade areas.  In addition, New Westminster Skytrain Station handles an average of 109,940 departures and arrivals per week.  

The largest employer in New Westminster is the Royal Columbian Hospital with approximately 3500 employees.  Douglas College is a post secondary institution with a campus in New Westminster that employs approximately 1,200 faculty and staff. Douglas College also attracts 8,500 credit students and 4,000 Continuing education students to the area. The College is located within a short walking distance from the site. Other large employers are the City of New Westminster with 950 employees and the New Westminster School Board, with 900 employees.

In addition, the elevator lobbies of the residential towers are directly connected to the retail levels with corridors which serve as additional fire exits as the new retail street is also considered to be a street by code. Total integration of residential, commercial and public transportation has been achieved.

Project Images