Development for Coquitlam Central Station wins challenge

A proposed design for development at Coquitlam Central Station, created by students at UBC, won the Pacific Northwest Real Estate Challenge yesterday.

The NAIOP real estate challenge has been held in Canada and the U.S. for 14 years and the Vancouver chapter hosted the competition for the first time, this year.

The team of eight undergraduate students who worked on the design was inspired by transit oriented developments, TOD’s, in Whistler and Metro Vancouver.

“Our team really wanted to enhance the pedestrian environment and encourage transit use because the [Evergreen Line], West Coast Express and bus loop were all one site. So that was the perfect place for a mixed-use community. We were also inspired by pedestrian environment, Whistler Village and also the mix of uses in other TOD’s in the area such as Marine Gateway, the future site for Brentwoood and other TOD’s in Metro Vancouver,” said Briana Mussatto whose focus was the design and planning of the project.

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Photo submitted courtesy of Briana Mussatto

A 55-storey building at the corners of Lougheed Highway and Barnet Highway was another key feature in the design, received a nod from Coquitlam’s mayor, Richard Stewart.

“The Mayor of Coquitlam really liked our statement tower idea and how it was a mixed-use high density community right at that site. It is the place to have a signature Coquitlam building.”

TransLink sponsored the challenge and the students developed their design according to the transit company’s preferences.

Mussatto said her role was “to design a product for TransLink that would meet all of their objectives as well as potentially [being] approved by [Coquitlam city] council.”

The students who are majoring in real estate, are in their final year at the UBC Sauder School of Business and worked on the challenge while they still carried their regular course load.

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Left to Right: Scott Marshall, Winston Liang, Stephanie Yeargin, Winnie Ng, Andrei Burlacu, Briana Mussatto, Ryan Weafer, Guang Yow Low. Photo submitted courtesy of Briana Mussatto

The students consulted Coquitlam’s planning documents that are online to take into account the city’s plans for neighbourhood development.

Mentors in the planning and architecture sectors in Metro Vancouver were on hand throughout the project.

We worked with many mentors in the community that helped us put this together. We kept in contact with many students that graduated from UBC that are planners as well as just contacts in the industry we have. I don’t believe the architect mentors graduated from UBC but they definitely do have ties to Sauder,” Mussatto said.

Mussatto and the other members of the team applied to participate in the challenge and were selected by a Tsur Somervill, director of the UBC Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate.

“I really wanted to be apart of the competition because I heard it was one of the best things to do while at university and it was. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had in school,” Mussatto said.

Better neighbourhoods in the future

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City of Coquiltam/Photo

A new study will help planners to make decisions about land use and transportation in Metro Vancouver. As a result, city planners in Coquitlam will be better able to build  neighbourhoods that have services residents need, within walking distances of their homes.

The study will draw on data in the My Health My Community Survey and the BC Generations Study. Pulling together the data from those surveys will cost $360,000 and the cost is being funded through a grant as well as funds from the City of Vancouver contingent on matched funds from its partner municipalities.

“The study is important for the information it will contribute to all levels of government,” said Heather McNell, a regional planner at Metro Vancouver

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart who is also the chairperson of the Metro Vancouver regional planning committee, said building communities in Coquitlam that have the types of services, such as a grocery shop, that residents need can present the challenge of finding a retailer to operate in an area.

“It’s really hard for us to mandate commercial activities in areas where planning doesn’t over ride the market. The market sometimes says ‘that’s not a viable place for a corner store.’ And we know if we have complete communities, one that is walkable to amenities like shopping, it will be better,” Stewart said.

“Walkability, how far residents have to walk for services such as a grocery store, doctor’s office and bus stop, and land use and transportation are essential to complete communities,” McNell said.

Stewart said building complete communities is more possible for large development projects.

“We certainly can do that when we do larger scale planning, do a transit-oriented development strategy where we put that critical mass of housing and therefore the market for retail, small-scale retail, all in one place, as we’re doing with Burquitlam Station,” Stewart said.

Burquitlam Station on the Evergreen Line is a major transit hub where new highrises and townhouses have been built. The City of Coquitlam has developed the Burquitlam Neighbourhood Plan.

Stewart added that for most of Coquitlam, “producing fine-grained services that would allow everyone to be within walking distance of their services, we’re not there yet. And I would like to see us get there.”