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Vancouver's 1.5 billion Oakridge Centre redevelopment project downsized significantly

As reported on VanCityBuzz.com, the much-anticipated 1.5-billion project to redevelop Oakridge Centre is being downsized significantly due to rising costs and the need to shorten the construction timeline to appease existing retail tenants. The rezoning plan received approval from Vancouver City Council in 2014, but technical problems have forced the proponents to go back to the drawing board for many elements of the project.

Local developer Westbank and Montreal-based Ivanhoé Cambridge, which owns the shopping centre, says the discovery of a large aquifer under the development site has forced them to scale back the scope of their plans by approximately 25 per cent – from 4.6 million square feet to 3.5 million square feet. An aquifer is an underground layer of permeable rock that holds and transmits water, conditions that can be highly costly and difficult to build on.

To reduce the need to dig deeper into the aquifer, underground parking for the project has been reduced. In turn, there is also less density given the reduction in parking that would have supported the previous higher density levels.

“The team was also tasked with finding efficiencies in the design of the parkade that could reduce the depth of excavation in order to minimize intrusions into the large aquifer beneath the site,” reads a statement sent to Vancity Buzz by Oakridge Centre General Manager Susan Nicol. “Working within the aquifer would entail costly and unconventional construction techniques that the project team recommended be avoided.”

If the project were to proceed as previously proposed, construction costs would soar by hundreds of millions of dollars and the timeline to build the entire multi-phased project could take up to eight years.

But that is not something that existing retailers are prepared to endure. Instead, the new plan will take five years to build.

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