South Gate City

Welcome to Southgate City the largest new master planned community you’ve probably never heard of, I know I hadn’t until adverts started popping up in the Vancouver Sun.  Developed by Ledingham McAllister on the site of the former Safeway distribution facility in South Burnaby, the 60 acre site features a whopping 19 residential towers above podiums.  Site amenities including 5 acres of park space, a gourmet grocer, restaurants, cafés, and a community centre all located internally within the development.

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Southgate City’s utopian-like glass towers are anchored in floating green space and numerous water fountains with a resounding lack of colour or use of materials.  The architectural renderings show building forms that appear difficult to engage with on a human scale once you get pass the street level podium.

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It will be interesting to see how it feels when finally constructed but the master plan appears starkly opposite to recent developments such as Olympic Village and UBC’s Wesbrook Village built around a denser street grid with a range of building types.

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Olympic Village aerial from Google Earth

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Aerial of Wesbrook Village on the University Endowment Lands from Google Earth

I’m amazed at the scale step down from Southgate to the existing single family neighbourhoods across the street.  Perhaps this intense density could have been spread throughout the single family zoning with two and three story walkups rather than concentrated on this commercial/industrial land.

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The loss of significant Commercial/Industrial space in a central metro location is also something to be debated.  A friend was lucky to find a location for his large business two years ago near Boundary and Lougheed Highway but he reports there is currently next to nothing on the market for lease regarding buildings accommodating light-industrial activities in Vancouver and Burnaby.