Concord Pacific plans mixed-use redevelopment for Molson site

Building homes and offices close to Broadway transit corridor makes sense, says UDI president

The news of the $185-million sale of the Molson brewery lands in Kitsilano to developer Concord Pacific has raised questions about whether the city will consider rezoning the industrial property.

On Monday, Concord Pacific revealed its plans to The Globe and Mail for a mixed-use development on the nearly three-hectare site. The sale was announced in November and closed in late March, and this week, the buyer was revealed. In a statement released to media, Concord Pacific vice president Peter Webb wrote that “Concord’s long-term vision is to attract knowledge-based local and global tech companies to this site and create a truly sustainable mixed-use addition to Vancouver.”

The site, located on the south side of the Burrard Bridge, has been the home of Molson for nearly 60 years. If the City of Vancouver allowed a rezoning for mixed-use development, the regional growth strategy requires that it would need additional approval from the board of Metro Vancouver. Speaking to the CBC, Vancouver Councillor Adriane Carr stated that the city has designated industrial land as a priority and she doesn’t expect the zoning to change.

But Urban Development Institute president Anne McMullin says the nature of industrial land is shifting. While we used to consider beehive burners and sawmills as industrial uses, now the regional growth strategy designates “employment areas.” Industrial land needs to be protected, but another property anywhere in the region could be “swapped” for that purpose.

“If they build enough commercial space that has the same number of jobs as the Molson site did, then I don’t see any problem,” she says. “I think that’s positive.”

While there is a shortage of industrial land in the region, it needs to be well-located close to bridgeheads, rail lines or interchanges. “I think we need to look at where is the best location for industrial land and where is the best location for residential,” she said, pointing out that the Molson’s site is within walking distance of the city’s coveted Broadway rapid transit line, making it ideal for residential development. “The UDI has been absolutely adamant that transit stops should be for residential and commercial use, and we should have our industrial uses in other areas.”

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