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Big changes targeted for Lansdowne Centre

Mall's low density doesn't match City of Richmond's master community plan.

Whether it’s the much-rumoured London Drugs or another big box retailer that fills the retail void left by Target this spring, one thing is almost certain — Lansdowne Centre, as a whole, will eventually see the bulldozer.

The 50-acre mall opened in 1977, replacing a horseracing track in a rapidly developing Richmond, when farms were being razed for vast single-family home neighbourhoods.

The mall now faces the prospect of having a fourth big box retailer in its southeast wing in the last 15 years.

Lansdowne represents one-sixth of the City Centre area where the City of Richmond projects to have 31,000 residents living by 2041.

The city’s 2041 conceptual area plan shows a park along the south side of the Lansdowne property, residential towers to the west, and medium-density development in the centre and east portions.

It’s along No. 3 Road, north of Lansdowne Road, along the mall’s west parking lot, where most of the capacity to build high-density residential remains.

Along No. 3 Road plans to be “pedestrian-oriented retail” with, perhaps, an expanded “transit plaza” at Lansdowne Station.

Cooney Road is shown to be extended right through the now-existing food court and a new east-west road will intersect it, as well as an extended Hazelbridge Way.

Pedestrian paths and cycling lanes are to link many of the new roads with existing ones.

City centre map
City Centre Official Community Plan (2015) shows a plan to develop Lansdowne Centre at the top right corner.

City spokesperson Ted Townsend calls the plan “conceptual” and how it is to specifically developed is dependent on rezoning processes.

He adds that when and how Lansdowne is developed will ultimately be up to market forces as well as the property owner.

The additional roads that would bisect Lansdowne would be part of the conceptualization of the city’s “ring road network,” which is a “core objective” of the area plan, says Townsend.

That network — aimed to relieve No. 3 Road traffic — currently includes the likes of Cooney, Minoru Boulevard, Lansdowne Road and Granville Avenue.

The park, Townsend says, will be purchased by the city through cash generated by development.

Parkland is needed in City Centre according to the Official Community Plan. In addition to the Lansdowne park, the city is planning a nearby waterfront park at the Fraser River.

Bill Purver at the Richmond Archives notes that, via a 1976 referendum, 57 per cent of Richmond voters ironically overturned city council’s decision to sell off 10 acres of adjacent land for $1.9 million, to preserve it as parkland. That land, however, was eventually developed into Kwantlen Polytechnic University and residential properties.

No one from Lansdowne Centre was available for comment.