By Craig Patterson
QuadReal has announced that it has partnered with grocery behemoth Loblaw to open a 50,000 square foot flagship grocery store at ’The Post’ in downtown Vancouver. The futuristic store will serve the area’s expanding residential and office population, as well as visitors to the downtown core that might frequent events such as sports games and concerts.
Branded ‘Loblaw CityMarket’, the massive store will include a considerable assortment of grab-and-go items as well as fresh meat, produce and bakery items, a cafe, a brew pub and cooking classes. The store will feature an entrance on Homer Street.
“We are incredibly excited to welcome an exceptional grocery and retail leader to The Post,” said Andy Clydesdale, QuadReal’s Executive Vice President, Retail. “With world-class tenants such as Loblaws CityMarket and Amazon, The Post is set to become the most sought-after location in downtown Vancouver for experience-oriented retail and the city’s vibrant business community.”
It will be the fourth Loblaw CityMarket in the Vancouver area — the chain has one location on the city’s West Side at 3185 Arbutus Street (near W. 16th Avenue) as well as at Park Royal in West Vancouver and at 1615 Lonsdale Avenue in North Vancouver.
In an interview, Mr. Clydesdale explained that Loblaw was chosen because it is a leader in grocery retailing in Canada, including expansive offerings of farm-to-table as well as click-and-collect and other tech innovations. At The Post, workers in the building will be able to use an app to order a sandwich, for example, which can be delivered upstairs. “The whole building will be digital,” he explained — QuadReal is also adding a food hall at the other end of The Post where dinner reservations can also be booked online.
Mr. Clydesdale also explained how Loblaw has mastered building grocery stores in heritage buildings, with one notable example being the 88,000 square foot Loblaw store in the former Maple Leaf Gardens in downtown Toronto. Elements from the experiential Toronto store, which have been “perfected”, will be introduced in the new downtown Vancouver Loblaw CityMarket flagship.
The Post’s Loblaw CityMarket will become the largest grocery store on the downtown Vancouver peninsula when it opens in 2022. Downtown Vancouver has almost two-dozen grocery stores in an area with a population exceeding 100,000 people — grocery chains include Urban Fare, IGA, T&T, Safeway, IGA, H-Mart and Whole Foods. Only downtown Toronto (with a population approaching 300,000) boasts more grocery stores than downtown Vancouver.
The Post, which is considered to be one of the most ambitious heritage redevelopments in Canadian history, involves the redevelopment of the massive downtown Vancouver Canada Post distribution centre building at 349 W. Georgia Street. The Post will become a commercial focal point for an under-developed part of downtown Vancouver which will also see new residential and offices, as well as a relocated Vancouver Art Gallery (last week the Chan family donated $40-million to help make it happen).
The Post will also include about 1.13-million square feet of state-of-the-art office space in two new towers that will be surrounded by retail and public spaces. Seattle-based Amazon will occupy more than 35% of the office space at The Post, which will house more workers than any office building in Vancouver’s history. The retail component of The Post will span about 185,000 square feet.
Food and beverage will be a significant part of The Post development. A food hall, spanning more than 25,000 square feet at The Post, will offer another dining option for those in the area. QuadReal is working with one of the world’s foremost food hall experts, New York City-based AvroKO, to design a food hall that will be unlike anything seen in the city to date.
As well, two large restaurants occupying a combined 20,000 square feet, facing West Georgia Street, will be a draw — one of the restaurants will span two levels, and both will feature expansive south-facing outdoor patios.
Mr. Clydesdale said that the rest of The Post’s commercial podium will include a programable space at the centre, as well as tenants that will include a large-format fitness concept and sports/ lifestyle retailers that will be announced later on.
Being in relatively close proximity to theatre and sporting facilities, The Post will offer amenities for visitors to the downtown core. The food hall, for example, could become a destination before or after a hockey game or event at the nearby Queen Elizabeth Theatre. The main branch of the Vancouver Public Library is close by as are draws such as CF Pacific Centre which is anchored by flagships for Nordstrom, Holt Renfrew, as well as being adjacent to Hudson’s Bay’s Vancouver flagship.
Built in 1958, the cavernous Canada Post building is located on a full city block in the heart of Crosstown, an area that’s becoming a significant employment and cultural centre for the city, as mandated in zoning. As a result, in several years the area will be surrounded by several major new commercial developments. Nearby as well, 3.6 million square feet of residential growth is expected to see the addition of 5,300 residential units.
“From a leasing opportunity perspective, this project is literally at the epicentre of everything and everybody,” said Mr. Clydesdale in an earlier interview. “From being at the junction of almost every single downtown neighbourhood in Vancouver, to being within walking distance of key sport and cultural hot spots, to being in the eye of the hurricane as it relates to future residential development, and not to mention, to being home base for employees, residents and tourists alike.”
The Post’s expansive office floor plates are desirable for tech firms such as Amazon, and the building will also feature amenities such as rooftop sports fields that can be used for volleyball, basketball and soccer. Office floor plates in the south tower will span about 33,000 square feet, with 36,000 square feet for floor plates in the north tower. Super-plates directly above the retail podium will span an impressive 110,000 square feet, which will be the largest in the city when completed. The first tower, expected to be finished for possession late 2022 and with a spring 2023 opening, will span about 400,000 square feet. When the project is completed, about 10,000 knowledge workers will occupy the buildings on a daily basis, creating an “innovation & incubator hub”.
The Post will also become the largest single office building project in the city’s history. Mr. Clydesdale noted that the project will respect and preserve the building’s heritage and architectural features through sustainable and adaptive reuse, with a goal to re-establish the property as a signature landmark that will “deliver welcoming and beautiful gathering places”. The Post will also offer co-working spaces, technology incubators, experimental food and beverage retail, educational spaces, networking events and more will be announced as the project progresses.
The LEED Gold Certified office component of ‘The Post’ will feature energy-saving measures that will be employed during operation, including waste heat recovery, passive solar shading, light shelves and a building envelope that conserves energy. The Post project will save approximately 25,000 tonnes of carbon by retaining the existing structure of the building. MCM Partnership Architects have partnered with QuadReal on the project.