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BC Business Artilcle about New Westminster

Arguably, one of New Westminster’s
greatest strengths – besides its central location
within Metro Vancouver – is its relatively
small size. At 15 square kilometres, it has inspired
city officials to take extra care in all facets of activity,
from creating policies that protect New Westminster’s
heritage to fostering projects that improve neighbourhoods
and boost business opportunities.
As a result, New Westminster has become the
place to live, work and invest in. Old buildings have
been rejuvenated, abandoned sites are being transformed,
and the streets are alive with young families,
office workers, shoppers and visitors.
Better still, New Westminster isn’t a destination just
for people in Metro Vancouver. Its appeal is much
farther reaching, as the management at Toronto-based
Lowe’s Companies Canada – who recently decided
to locate B.C.’s first Lowe’s Home Improvement
Warehouse in Queensborough – can attest.
The sheer magnitude of brownfield projects within
the city is remarkable. Wesgroup Properties is responsible
for $600-million worth of redevelopment thanks
to its nine-acre Brewery District at the old Labatt
brewery site. With phase one nearing completion, the
district will consist of office and retail space, residences
and health facilities. Anchor amenities will include a
Thrifty Foods grocery store, TD Canada Trust, a
New Westminster
strikes the
right balance
between keeping its
heritage charm
and welcoming
investment
New Westminster aerial view:
downtown and uptown with
developments and waterfront.
Below: The Plaza at New
Westminster station.


BC Business News Article about New Westminster


Building for Success
>


national pharmacy, and a pub that will
reference the site’s legacy of brewery operations.
“We try to combine commercial and
residential elements because it attracts
employment,” says Wesgroup president
Gino Nonni. “Already, Translink has signed
a 20-year lease and will open its head office
on the site that will employ 650 people.”
As to why Nonni was attracted to New
Westminster to begin with, he replies without
hesitating, “The fact that New West is
centrally located with great transit is very
desirable for developers, but above and
beyond that, everyone from City staff to the
mayor understand and are supportive of
mixed-use urban development, which is
Wesgroup’s focus. The City has also made
tremendous strides in crime prevention and
enhancing liveability even more than previously
existed.”
Real estate investor David
Sarraf, who owns buildings
from B.C. to Quebec, was
initially attracted to New
Westminster because of its
plethora of heritage buildings.
“I love their character and
wanted to preserve them, and
city administrators got me
enthusiastic due to the fact
they think and act like businesspeople
instead of bureaucrats.
They went out of their
way to provide me with all
sorts of opportunities.”
Sarraf purchased his first
heritage building in May of 2010 and has
since purchased three more, all in the downtown
core. “City Hall staffers always have
time for me, and their responsiveness is
such that if I casually remark how nice it
would be to have benches outside one of my
buildings, a week later the benches are in
place. I don’t get that sort of treatment
in other municipalities, and
it’s the reason I’ll probably do
most of my investing in New
Westminster in the future.”
Aside from the Brewery
District, the major projects in New
Westminster
in various stages of
development include:
• The Plaza @ New Westminster
Station. Located in New
Westminster’s downtown core,
this $500-million live/work “transit
village” project consists of three
highrises fully integrated with
200,000 feet of retail/commercial
space at the New Westminster
SkyTrain station and bus exchange. Recently
opened, The Plaza’s retail complex features
tenants such as Safeway, CIBC, RBC,
Shoppers Drug Mart and a 10-screen
Landmark Cinemas.
• Royal Columbian Hospital. New
Westminster’s biggest employer has plans
to spend upward of $750 million to add 300
more beds and upgrade numerous departments
and create a high-profile medical
teaching and research campus.
• Westminster Pier Park. The city is developing
a $25-million 3.8-hectare riverfront
recreation area and promenade. The first
phase of the park, which is designed to open
up the city’s waterfront to pedestrian traffic,
will open to the public in early 2012. Recently
awarded a “Brownie” for excellence in
brownfield renewal from the Canadian
Urban Institute, this major waterfront amenity
features a festival lawn, sports courts,
children’s play areas, a concession facility
and cycling and pedestrian pathways.
• Multi Use Civic Facility. Located in the
city’s historic downtown and currently
being constructed, this $35-million legacy
project will include a convention centre, a
350-seat theatre, multi-purpose rooms for
the arts, a restaurant, a new home for the
City’s museum and archives and the
Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
Gary Pooni, president of the Brook Pooni
“Working with
city administrators
was
one of the
better experiences
I’ve had
with regards to
the permitting
process. ”
– Andrew Duncan,
Lowe’s engineering
and construction
design director
P r o m o t i o n a l F e a t u r e
CITY OF NEW WESTMINSTER

P r o m o t i o n a l F e a t u r e
the largest industrial landlord and developer
in Western Canada.”
That said, businesses were moving to the
city prior to the current construction boom.
“It’s an easy place to get to and move around
in,” says Kami Rahmati, founder of the
30-store Waves Coffee House chain. “I
moved my head office here three years ago
because it’s a lovely area full of history, and
since then I’ve been overwhelmed by how
supportive locals are of my business.
Residents are proud of their neighbourhood,
and the pride is infectious.”
The billions of dollars being invested
in new mixed-use communities, civic restoration
and expanded amenities have a purpose
that goes beyond business. New
Westminster’s 9,000-strong population in
the downtown core is expected to grow to
15,400 by 2021, and the city overall will
expand from just under 59,000 now to over
97,000 by 2031. With these developments,
New Westminster is meeting the needs of
a growing population; however, due to
scrupulous planning it will also retain its
unique granite-and-brownstone identity
that has lured entrepreneurs like Sarraf,
Rahmati and many others.
Gino Nonni echoes the sentiments of
people who are discovering New Westminster
when he says, “I can’t be happier with the way
things are working out for us. It’s rare to deal
with a city that is so actively involved in selfimprovement
and encouraging commercial
and residential development. Quite frankly,
New Westminster is a great success story,
and we’re delighted to be a part of it.” n
This promotional feature was prepared for
City of New Westminster by BCBusiness
magazine’s Special Advertising Features
Dept. Writer: Robin Brunet. For more
information contact VP of corporate features
John Cochrane at 604-299-7311. Email:
jcochrane@canadawide.com
Associates Inc. real estate consulting firm,
notes, “The accumulation of these and other
projects adds up to an economic renaissance
for New Westminster. As a resident I find
this appropriate because it has been a long
time in the planning, plus New Westminster
historically was the economic driver of the
region – all the way until the 1970s, in fact.”
Pooni adds, “Something of the magnitude
of a Lowe’s locating here required
three things: a city that welcomes investment
and employment; a proactive
approach by the property owners, which in
this case was Beedie Development Group;
and a community that wanted the business.
When you combine these elements with
New West’s terrific transit system and
centrality, you have a perfect storm for
economic investment.”
Andrew Duncan, Lowe’s engineering and
construction design director, agrees. “We
chose Queensborough because it’s well positioned
within New Westminster and New
Westminster is well-positioned within the
greater Vancouver area,” he says. “Working
with City administrators was one of the better
experiences I’ve had with regards to the permitting
process, and they constantly helped
us move forward according to our various
timelines. Finally, the public consultation we
undertook showed that residents were keen
to have us locate in New Westminster and
help bring jobs and revenue to the city. We
couldn’t have asked for more.”
Pooni credits Beedie Group for also
moving forward with construction (adjacent
to the Lowe’s warehouse) of what will
be one of the largest warehouses in Metro
Vancouver. “At 500,000 square feet it will
be the largest building in Beedie’s history,
which is noteworthy considering Beedie is
city of new Westminster
PW Trenchless
Construction Inc.
11618-130 Street, Surrey, BC V3R 2Y3
Tel: 604-580-0446
E-mail: david@pwtrenchless.com
www.pwtrenchless.com
We offer a low carbon
trenchless solution to your
underground utility problems
PW Trenchless.indd 1 3/17/09 3:21:00 PM

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