Capilano Mall Re-development Resumes After Pandemic Pause 

The process for considering Quadreal Property Group’s proposal to redevelop Capilano Mall is now shifting into a formal application.

This follows a prolonged years-long delay in entering the City of North Vancouver’s formal process due to the pandemic.

As previously reported by Daily Hive Urbanized, between mid-November 2019 and late January 2020, Quadreal previously conducted an informal preliminary consultation to gauge what kind of uses and considerations the public would like to see — ahead of creating more detailed draft master plans and entering the City’s formal processes later that year.

More than three years later, they have now submitted a pre-consultation application to the City for the aim of amending the Official Community Plan (OCP) to enable a significant redevelopment. This would trigger the planning process for a comprehensive master plan for the 15-acre property at 935 Marine Drive.

In a meeting today, North Vancouver City Council is expected to approve City staff’s recommendation to process the OCP amendment application and guide the master planning process.

But questions remain on how the City will cover the cost of the “significant amount of staff resources from various City departments” required to guide the entire formal process with the developer, given that the municipal government is relatively small and has limited resources compared to its larger municipal counterparts in the region. Typically, the proponent covers costs incurred by the City through application fees.

The process to create a master plan for an OCP amendment and rezoning is expected to take several years. If fully approved, the master plan will be used to guide future development applications for the multi-phased construction project of transforming the mall into a mixed-use, high-density development.

“The master plan and structure plan will not change the land use designations or zoning of surrounding properties in the neighbourhood. Rather, these planning tools will evaluate how the redevelopment fits within the context of this area and how the Capilano Mall site can deliver on community amenities, employment, housing, environmental sustainability, public realm, transportation improvements, and other City priorities,” reads the City staff report.

“The master plan will support the exploration of a development permit system or other mechanisms to guide form and development of the various project phases.”

At the time of the informal preliminary consultation in late 2019, Quadreal indicated it was looking into building housing, community services, renewed retail, and other job-creating spaces.

Transit-oriented development potential is likely to be a consideration as well, with the mall served by frequent bus routes such as TransLink’s R2 RapidBus, which is expected to be upgraded to an interim Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service later this decade. Over the longer term, there are plans to provide a permanent rapid transit solution for the North Shore, including the consideration of light rail transit (LRT) or SkyTrain.

The mall currently has almost 80 businesses, with Walmart being its only remaining anchor retailer after the closure of Sears. Its first wing was built in 1967, and then it underwent expansions in 1974, 1986, and 2001. It now has 423,000 sq ft of leasable floor area.

Unlike its rival Park Royal in West Vancouver, Capilano Mall only has a handful of apparel and clothing retailers, and most of its businesses are service-oriented. The vacant Sears space has since been transformed into a 65,000 sq ft indoor bike park, but the opening of the facility has been delayed.

Over the years, the mall has lost a significant portion of its market share on the North Shore from the ongoing renovations and expansions of Park Royal, which has been able to attract top clothing and apparel retailers, a large number of anchor retailers, several grocery stores, and most recently a Cineplex theatre complex.

QuadReal is already responsible for some of the region’s largest mixed-use redevelopment projects, including the 29-acre Oakridge Park (redevelopment of Oakridge Centre) and the redevelopment of the old Canada Post building in downtown Vancouver into The Post (Amazon offices). It also owns Willowbrook Shopping Centre in Langley.

Earlier this spring, the Squamish First Nation initiated its own planning process for maximizing the use of its reserve lands, including its significant North Vancouver reserve properties.

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