The brown fields down the slope from Great Northern Way could buzz with life in coming years if plans for the digital media campus there proceed.
The four partner institutions on the campus, the University of B.C., Simon Fraser University, the B.C. Institute of Technology and Emily Carr University of Art and Design, want a new and expanded Emily Carr, relocated from Granville Island, live/work studios and 300 units of student housing.
How these would fit on the property on the southern edge of the False Creek Flats, a 308-acre industrial area bounded by Main and Clark streets, Prior and Venables streets and Great Northern Way, is being worked out.
Great Northern Way Campus has applied to amend the previously approved hotel use on the site for student housing that could be located on the westerly portion of the property along an extension of East First Avenue, near the Artech live/work building.
Thornton Street could be connected to Great Northern Way as part of the redevelopment to connect Strathcona and Mount Pleasant.
Campus and city rezoning staff are working on a plan that lays out where the art school and an extension of the Millennium SkyTrain line and a station could go on the 18.5-acre property that was given to the schools by Finning International a decade ago.
Matthew Carter, president of Great Northern Way Campus, says the institutions want to create a lively district that includes academics and businesses in the creative and digital sector and sees students and amenities keeping the campus busy on evenings and weekends.
"We've got strong transit connectivity from where we are and our students are all U-Pass users... We see the introduction of some student housing as a way to make this former industrial site more vibrant and a more interesting and animated place than it currently is," Carter said.
"One of the things that's currently lacking that prevents us from attracting creative and digital sector tenants, there isn't a place to go for coffee or to go for food or a drink after work or a gym or something like that. So we want to bring those sorts of amenities into the community and one thing that makes that easier for those businesses to thrive is if they have a daytime population as well as an evening and weekend population," he added.
Carter couldn't say what the exact order of redevelopment would be because it depends on money from outside sources but any amenities would be added further down the road.
Matt Shillito, the city's assistant director of planning, responsible for the community planning division, says the city is focused on maintaining job space on the False Creek Flats, so residential development would remain limited to a maximum 100,000 square feet for the student housing and a maximum of 150,000 square feet for live/work use.
A new centre for digital media is being constructed there now. It includes 76 apartments for grad students.
Whether the Millennium Line will be extended across the Great Northern Way Campus remains to be seen. Shillito said other possibilities include a light rail line along Great Northern Way or along Broadway to UBC.