Woodward’s, a 1.1-million-square-foot project with an inclusive design. The project, which is costing 500 million Canadian dollars (about $475 million), is one of the biggest redevelopments in city history.
It is also controversial — because of a tangled history and a high-stakes social engineering approach. “There is so much riding on this project,” said Ian Gillespie, chief executive of Westbank Projects, one of the developers. “Everyone sees it as a panacea for huge social problems.”
When completed in January, the project will encompass four interconnected buildings with a central atrium on the edge of the Downtown Eastside, just a few blocks from the business district.
It will feature 536 market-rate condominiums, 200 “affordable” rental units, a supermarket, a drugstore and Simon Fraser University’s School for Contemporary Arts. It will also have 31,500 square feet of office space for nonprofit organizations, 59,329 square feet of federal and city office space, a bank, a restaurant and a rooftop day care center.
“It is a microcosm of the city,” said the project architect, Gregory Henriquez.
The other project partners are the Peterson Investment Group, the city government and Simon Fraser. The site, which covers a full block, originally housed the Woodward’s department store, which closed in 1993. That building has a contentious past, including several failed development efforts and a three-month occupation by advocates for the homeless.