One of the things I find many people are forgetting (or were never aware of) in the current hoopla over the Olympic village is that Vancouver has a decades-old tradition of being a real-estate developer. It’s one of the biggest land-owners in the city and its real-estate department, under the leadership of people like Bruce Maitland and now Michael Flanigan, have been much more entrepreneurial than most people realize in acquiring, developing and selling land.
The Mount Pleasant Community Centre now going up at Kingsway and Main is an example I’ve been pointing to a lot in recent days. That building has a whack of rental apartments being built on top of it, because the city believed that more rental was needed and since private developers weren’t building it, the city would. (How’s the project going? Funny you should ask. The city got a fixed price from contractors to do it, which helped avoid the construction-cost overruns that many other projects, private and public, saw. But it’s taken forever to build and a lot of haggling between the city’s construction manager on the project and the contractor, since the contractor was naturally trying to get some wiggle room in that fixed price as his labour and materials costs rose.)
I was reminded of the city’s very active role in land development when I read this report on the city’s website today about its upcoming plans for the land on the north end of the Granville Bridge. It’s planning to get rid of those loops there. (I’m a tiny bit sad, as I always enjoyed whoosing around them.) And it’s going to eventually redevelop the land in those loops, which the city owns. (Interestingly, the new streets there are all going to be Rolstons, East, West and Way. Not sure why.)
Of course, the staff report notes prudently: “The redevelopment of the City-owned lands may well require a phased approach reflecting project size, market conditions and existing tenancies.” Now there’s a motto to install on the city crest.