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Transit Is The Key To Marine Gateway's Success. Here's Why.

PCI Developments just cut ribbon on Marine Gateway. President Andrew Grant tells us why the first major mixed-use project to be directly integrated with the Canada Line is a catalyst for big change in sleepy South Vancouver.

Andrew's seen above right unveiling a plaque with Mayor Gregor Robertson during Marine Gateway's launch event earlier this month. A one-block, five-acre site previously home to an ICBC depot at SW Marine Drive and Cambie Street has been transformed into the largest transit-oriented development outside downtown. The 820k SF mixed-use LEED Gold community includes a 14-storey office tower anchored by clean-tech firm Westport Innovations. There are 461 condo and rental apartments in two towers.

Marine Gateway is a model for the smart growth and innovative land-use planning the city wants to see at transit nodes (it incorporates the South Vancouver bus loop, which combined with the Canada Line will generate 2 million transit user trips per year). The project delivers 27 retailers (240k SF) to an underserved area, including Cineplex VIP (11 screens, 1,900 seats), T&T Supermarket, Shoppers Drug Mart, Steve Nash Fitness and Winners. The retail is 97% leased.

Most buyers at Marine Gateway, one of Vancouver's fastest-selling condo projects ever, came from in and around the development, and 45% of them were under 40, according to PCI data. Mayor Robertson said young families are looking for places to live close to retail, new jobs, community amenities and transit. Andrew stresses connectivity has been key to the success of the project's residential and retail. “This development only happens in this location because of transit.”

Last fall, PCI opened another transit-oriented project, The Hub at King George Station (above), as part of a multi-phase development on a 10-acre site in Surrey. Phase 1 includes a 495k SF office tower anchored by Coast Capital Savings, and 350k SF of retail and 1.2M SF of residential is planned. Years ago, PCI developed Crossroads, a mixed-use community with office, residential and retail at the opposite end of the Cambie Street corridor from Marine Gateway.

PCI plans a second phase of Marine Gateway on a neighbouring site between Cambie and Yukon streets (currently a car dealership). Andrew says the project could have light industrial and boutique office space, along with retail and housing, both market and affordable. This spring PCI breaks ground on a 165k SF office project beside the new Emily Carr University campus on Great Northern Way (above). Later this year it will launch construction on a 92-suite rental apartment building at 2805 East Hastings St.

At the moment, PCI is basking in its Marine Gateway triumph. When the Canada Line opened in 2009, the area around the station "wasn't very inviting," says Andrew, noting locals told him they used to be hesitant about using the station, “particularly on a dark cold night in November.” Now Marine Gateway is alive with activity, however, and Andrew feels good seeing the streams of young folks coming and going from the apartments day and night. “Most of them don’t have cars,” he stresses, with a wink to potential office tower tenants. “These days you’ve got to be on transit.”