Developing Story: Pearson concept ready for its closeup

The fourth and final draft concept for potential redevelopment of the Pearson Dogwood Lands, located at 59th Avenue between Heather and Cambie streets, will be unveiled at open houses Sept. 12 and 14.

Vancouver Coastal Health owns the 25-acre site. It envisions a mixed-use development, which will include health care housing and related services, housing, community amenities and park space.

Building heights could range from three to 28 storeys. Towers would be clustered along Cambie Street and the northeastern portion of the site. The concept also includes a new transit station at West 57th and Cambie on the Canada Line.

The City of Vancouver is working on a planning program with VCH, which will produce a policy statement that will guide redevelopment. City staff expect to bring the policy statement to council for approval in December or early next year. If council approves it, VCH can file a rezoning application.

Initial open houses were held last January, followed by another set in June when three redevelopment options were presented. The best ideas were consolidated into the fourth concept being released at this week’s open houses, explained Brad Foster, the real estate consultant for VCH who’s working on the project.

“The goal is to leverage the value of the land for reinvestment into health care. Capital dollars are tight with the province obviously, so we’re looking at ways in which we can generate value from our land assets more creatively so that we can fund the rejuvenation of residential care throughout Vancouver Coastal Heath and specifically the two facilities that exist on this site — the George Pearson Centre and Dogwood Lodge — and [fund] other health care operations [on the site] like a new community health centre, a new therapeutic pool and a whole range of independent housing options for people with disabilities,” he said.

Foster estimates the land value at about $100 million. There are no plans to sell.

“Ideally we don’t want to sell because it is a public asset. The model that we’re looking at is similar to what UBC has done where they’re able to lease the land to developers for 99-year leases. By doing that you generate cash flow and capital from the land but the health authority, and the province in effect, is able to retain the land asset long term so you don’t lose that public value,” he said.

Foster said reaction has been positive so far, noting a 20-person community advisory group has been involved.

Matt Shillito, the city’s assistant director of community planning, said the zoning is actually a duplex zoning, which is unusual for a site that’s an institutional use. The 1995 Oakridge-Langara Policy Statement talked about redevelopment of the property in the future, but it didn’t anticipate the Canada Line. During Cambie Corridor planning, the land was identified as among sites that had significant development potential beyond existing policy and that it should be looked at through a major projects process, which is what’s underway.

Open houses run from 5 p.m until 8 p.m. Sept 12 and from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., Sept. 14 at Pearson Dogwood Redevelopment Project Office at 601 West 59th.

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