After 24 years of hard work, setbacks and careful planning, North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto is finally getting to see his dream of waterfront revitalization realized.
"This has been a goal since I was elected in 1993, 24 years ago," said Mussatto. "It has taken a long time and we have done a tremendous amount of work on this."
Recently work began on The Shipyards, the centerpiece of the city's longtime, multiphase plan to develop its waterfront area in Lower Lonsdale.
The 1.6-acre site, also known as Lot 5, will be home to a seasonal outdoor covered ice rink and water play area, community amenity space and 60,000 square feet of commercial space, including a 70-room, four-star boutique hotel and two-storey restaurant.
The project is being developed by the city with Quay Property Management, the parent company of Lonsdale Quay. Under the agreement, Quay Property Management will pay the $35-million cost to develop amenities and commercial space and lease them from the city.
The city will be responsible for building 144 new parking spots and will be paying for operations as well as $5 million to remediate the soil left contaminated from its time as a shipyard.
Mussatto said they plan to restore one of the old shipbuilding structures and incorporate it into the plans.
"We have come up with a plan people are loving," he said. "This will be a mixed-use outdoor waterfront. We brought Roger Brooks in, a guru of space planning, who designed Whistler Village."
Mussatto noted construction also coincides with plans for the new North Vancouver Museum and the Polygon Gallery, which will make the area even more of a draw for tourists and locals.
But the project hasn't been without its struggles.
Mussatto said originally the plan was to turn the site into the National Maritime Centre but this was scrapped when the 2008 recession hit.
"It was tens of millions of dollars we didn't have," Mussatto said.
But the new plan is going full steam ahead.
Remediation work on The Shipyards is anticipated to be complete in June of this year, while construction of the commercial building and open space is scheduled to begin late summer 2017. Completion of The Shipyards – Lot 5 is expected late 2018. Operators for the hotel and restaurant will be announced later this month.
The Shipyards first opened as Wallace Shipyards in 1906 and grew into one of the most impressive industrial operations in Western Canada before closing its doors in 1992. Over its many years of operation, The Shipyards have become a defining aspect of the city's identity. Today, The Shipyards are recognized as a primary heritage site in the City of North Vancouver Heritage Inventory.
The Shipyards have been restored through the Pier Development to accommodate retail and commercial space, public plazas, interpretive signs, waterfront walkways and restored piers.