The City of North Vancouver's waterfront has the potential to be a restaurant and retail destination along the lines of Granville Island, says a report presented to
council Oct. 7. Items up for discussion include a hotel expansion, several restaurants - including the repurposing of the PGE Station - blending Lonsdale Quay eastwards into the new district, the creation of a new park that includes an outdoor skating rink and an underground parking lot.
The retail strategy, prepared by Colliers International, will be considered along with public input before council makes any decisions on a final plan for the waterfront development, which extends from Lonsdale Quay to Lot 5. "We want to make sure that whatever mix we bring together attracts a broad segment of society, including locals, regional residents, and also visitors and tourists," said David Bell, a retail planning consultant at Colliers International. He estimates that approximately 75 per cent of the area's usage will be from North Shore residents.
The space should be turned into a destination waterfront restaurant district that mixes with infrastructure such as the Spirit Trail, said Bell.
The ideas that have been put forward balance local interests, fill market gaps and build on existing amenities such as Lonsdale Quay, said Bell. The water will be used as a centrepiece, and 24-hour activities will be generated throughout the year, he said.
"Patio space is critical," said Bell. "Restaurants are looking for more and more outdoor seating throughout the year, covered and heated, and it's an excellent way of activating space."
Based on preliminary numbers, Bell said the proposed retail space is expected to generate approximately $900,000 in revenues for the city.
However, some are concerned about the proposed hotel expansion on Lot 5. "This property belongs to the people and should be off-limits to private developers," said local resident Sandra Grant.
Another challenge the area is facing is a limited number of parking spaces. The report recommends that part of Lot 5 could be developed into underground parking.
Bell notes that a significant portion of Lot 5 could still be retained as an open space, possibly a grass amphitheatre. "We don't want to create a concrete jungle," he said.
Because of a lack of regular vehicular traffic in the area, the plan also notes that future establishments will have to rely on wordof-mouth and regular event programming to generate a regular customer base.
In response to Coun.
Guy Heywood's concerns about liquor licensing agreements, Bell admitted that the report didn't vet the restrictive clauses that might prevent some of the proposed food and beverage services from moving forward.
"We were looking at this from a market perspective," he said, noting that city council should consider any licensing issues while evaluating the report's recommendations.
The report also recommends creating a management structure similar to Granville Island's, which would be responsible for overseeing the success of the area.
Colliers International will be responsible for marketing and managing the retail lease opportunities in the area after city council passes a development plan.
The city held a public meeting at the Pinnacle Hotel on Sept. 16 and offered an online survey where residents could express their ideas for the waterfront. Both the public's input and the Colliers report will be used in the final evaluation of a development plan.
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