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North Lougheed land ‘prime location’
A mix of uses, from a business park to shopping, a farmer’s market, perhaps even a college or satellite campus for a university, would be best suited for the undeveloped land on the north side of Lougheed Highway in Pitt Meadows.
The finding, presented to council on Tuesday, shows the stretch is prime for development.
“The study area is very strategically located,” said David Bell, a senior associate of planning and retail consulting at Colliers International.
“Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge have a lot going for them. With the new bridges comes a new awareness of their spot on the Lower Mainland map.”
Fortune 500 company AECOM is leading the review of the North Lougheed land, with input from an agrologist, economist, land-use and urban planning experts, as well as a transportation engineer.
The $40,000 study is considering 50.9 hectares (125 acres) of land all the way to the yet-to-be built North Lougheed Connector, much of it agricultural.
The fact that both municipalities were named as the fifth best places in Canada to invest in by the Real Estate Investment network last year, also doesn’t hurt.
“They are on the map and now they have to start responding to that status,” Bell added.
From a market perspective, Bell sees the intersection at Harris Road and Lougheed Highway as a commercial cluster that could host a variety of uses, including a business hotel with meeting facilities, a business park, as well as more shopping. Somewhere in the mix could be room for an agricultural trust or educational institute.
“One thing that’s unique about Pitt Meadows is that it doesn’t want to lose its focus and stature as an agricultural community,” he said. “It’s a mistake to think that uses operate in isolation from one and other.
“The new generation of business parks either have a significant retail component or are next to a significant retail component. People don’t want to work in the middle of nowhere.”
And it’s not just the vast tract of land available that makes the strip attractive. Once developed, the location will be able to serve drive-through traffic and, if properly anchored with a big-box store, larger regional populations.
But the real driving force behind development is finding a way to get the North Lougheed Connector built.
“The fact is, it is really going to be a commercial development of some range or type that is going to help facilitate the development of that road,” said Bell.
The land’s dormant potential is exactly why the city commissioned a study of the stretch, the second done since 2003.
“It’s a prime location and that’s why we want to do it right,” said Pitt Meadows Mayor Don MacLean.
He hopes land owners consult the municipality and residents to find out what kind of stores they want before building on the stretch. He’d also like the city’s economic development corporation to conduct a probe of their own.
“I can’t buy a tie anywhere in Pitt Meadows or a good pair of men’s shoes,” MacLean explained.
“We are in no urgency to just slap up some tax-generating property.”
Pitt Meadows Coun. Bruce Bell, who opposes construction of the North Lougheed Connector, liked hearing the land has potential for agricultural and educational uses.
“I don’t think we need another shopping centre,” he said, adding that the land could be developed as satellite university campus, along with stretches set aside as an agricultural trust for hands-on learning.
“If the development has an agricultural slant to it, I think that’s even better.”
The final result of AECOM’s study of the North Lougheed Land will be presented to council and the public by the end of March.