When Alvin Narod, the master builder of BC Place Stadium, wrapped up his presentation at the unveiling of plans for the project in 1981, a person in the audience spoke up that the “building looked okay, but needed landscaping.”
Narod, who would die just 21 days after accepting the role of BC Place Chair and before the roof could be raised, responded that they were going to “landscape it with buildings.”
“That, of course, is exactly what is happening today,” said Vancouver developer and architect Michael Geller, who was at the unveiling 34 years ago. “They are finally landscaping around BC Place Stadium with buildings.”
After 3½ decades as a sports-and-entertainment district, the area around BC Place and Rogers Arena is now transforming into something more amid a flurry of residential and commercial builds that could eventually keep more people spending their time and money in the stadium district, whether events are happening or not.
In June, Aquilini Development and Construction opened the first stage of a three-tower project at Rogers Arena. Aquilini Centre West is a 26-storey mixed-use commercial-residential building with 114,000 square feet of office space and 187 market rental apartments. The building, which threads into the Rogers Arena concourse, also has 50,000 sq. ft. of retail space.
Leasing is now underway for the homes and commercial space in the West building, said Kevin Hoffman, senior vice-president of Aquilini Group.
He said they’ve also broken ground on the South tower, which will have nearly 166,000 of residential space and will stand separate from Rogers Arena.
“We’ll look for that tower [to be done] in about a year’s time,” he said in an interview last week. “And then we have East Tower. We’ll probably start that tower in about a year.” The East tower will also tie into the stadium with a mix of office and residential space.
Concord Pacific is also amid a massive $1-billion development plan to eventually add 1,400 condominiums in eight buildings near BC Place at the northern end of Cambie Bridge. That series of projects includes non-market housing and adds about 90,000 sq. ft. of commercial space to the neighbourhood, which the developer is billing as False Creek Central.
A new $600-million casino, hotel and entertainment complex called Parq Vancouver is also being built in the neighbourhood.
The 775,000-sq.-ft. resort will have two hotels, Vancouver’s largest ballroom, a casino (relocated from the Edgewater Casino site), restaurants, a spa, gym and retail space. The resort will operate under Paragon Gaming Corporation, Dundee Corporation, and PBC VUR Limited Partnership. Construction is expected to be complete by the end of 2016.
The outbreak of new buildings is filling a void in the area, Hoffman said. “We think it’s going to be a vibrant atmosphere around the arena, trying to get people there during the day and during the evening so that the whole neighbourhood works.”
He said more opportunities could arise if the nearby Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts eventually are removed.
“If they do come down, that will open up and let the light in beneath,” he said. “There’s some dark spaces down below.”