Representatives from Jackson Square Properties, Blue Pine Construction and other project contractors gathered on Wednesday to celebrate The Columbia at the Waterfront, the latest project to get underway at The Waterfront Vancouver.
The apartment development is located on Block 20 of the Waterfront, a 1.06-acre riverfront parcel at the development’s western edge. A crowd of about 50 people gathered under a tent to watch the project leaders turn over the ceremonial first shovelfuls of dirt, standing near a pile of steel beams already stacked at the site.
Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle, Blue Pine CEO Blaise Hilton and LRS Architects Associate Principal Greg Mitchell each gave a brief introduction outlining the development of the project and history of The Waterfront Vancouver.
“The interest in this development seems to only be growing,” Mitchell said.
The Columbia project comes from San Francisco-based Jackson Square Properties in partnership with Blue Pine Construction. LRS Architects, Pence Construction and PBS Engineering are also serving as contractors on the project.
Jackson Square Properties owns a large portfolio of multifamily residential buildings throughout the United States, primarily on the West Coast. The company owns several developments in Vancouver, although The Columbia was described as Jackson Square’s first “from the ground up” project in the city.
The basic details of the project remain unchanged from the preliminary plan submitted to the city in December: a seven-story tower with ground-floor residential amenities, two levels of underground parking and a rooftop terrace on the second floor of the U-shaped building, facing the Columbia River.
But the concept art on display at the groundbreaking put the spotlight on a new feature that wasn’t detailed in the initial pre-application: a second-floor rooftop infinity pool that will overlook the river.
The pool has been a central feature from the start of the design process, said Chad Bungcayao, Jackson Square Properties vice president of acquisitions and dispositions. In fact, he said the entire building was designed around it.
The number of apartment units has also increased slightly from the initial proposal, from 239 to 248. That makes The Columbia the largest Waterfront project announced to date by number of units; the RiverWest building has 207 apartment units, the Rediviva has 63, and the still-under-construction Kirkland Tower will feature 40 condos. The Springs senior living facility, announced earlier this year, is expected to have approximately 200 units.
Bungcayao took the lead in securing the project site, and he said he was drawn to Block 20 because its location on a corner within the Waterfront provides unobstructed views of the Columbia River on two sides of the block. The building will be shaped and angled in a way that will give about two-thirds of the units full or partial views of the river, he said.
Unlike most of the other announced Waterfront projects to date, The Columbia has no ground-floor retail component.
That’s in keeping with the overall vision for the Waterfront, Bungcayao said; all of the projects on the five westernmost blocks are expected to be purely residential. The other announced project at the west end, The planned Springs building on the adjacent Block 18, also lacks ground-floor retail.
Construction on The Columbia will begin in earnest on Monday, Bungcayao said, starting with excavating approximately 4,000 truckloads of earth to dig the pit for the building’s underground garage. The project is targeted to receive its first certificate of occupancy in July 2021, in time for a Fourth of July grand opening.
A website for the project is scheduled to go online soon, and Jackson Square officials said an interest list has already begun to form. The company hopes to have 50 percent of the units pre-leased by the time the building opens.