Revitalizing the False Creek Flats

Less than a kilometre from downtown Vancouver, you’ll find a 450-acre tract of land that’s traditionally been known for rail lines, warehouses and industrial operations: the False Creek Flats. The area—which is bounded by Main street to the west, Prior Street to the north, Clark Drive to the east, and Great Northern Way to the south—has been undergoing a huge transformation.

A little while back, we wrote a post highlighting some of the major changes underway in the Flats—among them, a new campus for Emily Carr, a future home for St. Paul’s Hospital, and a condo community. There’s been a lot happening since then, so we’ve put together the latest on what’s ahead for the neighbourhood.

Businesses

Today, the Flats is home to over 600 businesses that employ 8,000 people—ranging from artists and brewers to tech start-ups and car dealers. As several new office buildings are in the works in the Flats, we’ll see many more in the coming years.

One of the most anticipated buildings—which opened its doors in the spring—is South Flatz at 565 Great Northern Way. Developed by Low Tide Properties and PCI Developments (and designed by Perkins + Will), it’s a 160,000 square foot, 7-storey spaced aimed at digital media and creative sectors. It was purchased in 2016 for $34.6 million, or $430 per square foot. Tenants include Finning International, Blackbird Interactive Game Studio, Spaces and Samsung. A very cool new restaurant pavilion building (which will be occupied by Nemesis Coffee) is also being developed next to it that takes inspiration from overlapping flower petals.

This is the first multi-tenant office building in the area in 18 years. And it’s the first of more than 1.9 million square feet planned to be built in the Flats by this development team alone—that’s the equivalent of almost a tenth of the current space in downtown Vancouver. Other projects include renovating a 164,000 square foot research building at 887 Great Northern Way and constructing a 400,000 office building at 901 Great Northern Way.

Another important office building has been proposed for the northeast corner of Terminal Avenue and Station Street—at the existing site of Party Bazaar next to Pacific Central Station. Rize Alliance has submitted a development application to the City to redevelop the site at 1296 Station Street into a 13-storey office, 268,000 square foot space. The building, which features an irregular crystal shape, is expected to be completed mid-2020.

Did you know? More than 50 per cent of the Flats land is owned by the City of Vancouver and rail companies.

Housing

The False Creek Flats has been considered Vancouver’s final development frontier. Which is why a lot of developers feel that the plan fell short when it comes to housing—creating only 1,400 new homes over 30 years. That’s extremely limited, especially as the area has the potential to add some 20,000 new jobs over that same time period.

About 20% of that will be secured market rental housing (generally for households between $60-150,000/year). The plan includes provisions to target approximately 20% of new housing growth as non-market housing. The balance will be market condominiums.

Hospital

False Creek Flats has been named the site of the new St. Paul’s Hospital. The formal rezoning application for the new St. Paul’s Hospital campus in the False Creek Flats has been filed, which provides a more detailed glimpse into what’s expected for the 18.4-acre site. It will include:

  • A new hospital and integrated health care campus
  • Commercial, office, hotel, institutional use providing a variety of health-related support functions
  • Secured rental residential to meet housing needs of employees, physicians, students and researchers
  • Retail and commercial space
  • “All-suite” hotel to serve health-related visitors
  • Two child care facilities

 The new campus will be built in phases, with the hospital and new street network completed first. It’s expected to be completed by 2024.

Transportation

With the Millennium Line Broadway extension, the Flats will be home to a future SkyTrain station. It’ll be located at the corner of Thornton Street and Great Northern Way—right next to Emily Carr and PCIs first new building.

The next steps are being taken by the City of Vancouver on its long-held proposal to build a new major arterial road through the False Creek Flats from the eastern edge of downtown Vancouver to Clark Drive. A community panel of randomly selected residents and business owners has been created to begin the next phase of public consultation for the project.