Josh and Katy Chapman have just recently bought a townhouse in the Freemont development in Port Coquitlam.
Photograph by: wayne leidenfrost , Vancouver Sun
Fremont in Port Coquitlam is the kind of master-planned community that invokes images of the 1998 film The Truman Show. With its immaculate riverfront residential neighbourhood, sprawling business park, and proximity to schools, services and walking trails, the developers bill it as the kind of place you never need, or would want, to leave.
Of course, Jim Carrey’s character, Truman Burbank, couldn’t leave his perfectly-orchestrated town. He was trapped in a dome and his life was being broadcast live on television.
But if the Fremont project proves anything about development in Metro Vancouver, it’s that people here have yet to grow tired of massive mixed-use communities. There also appears to be no shortage of businesses interested in setting up shop in places like Fremont.
The $500-million-dollar development broke ground in 2013 under the watch of developer Mosaic along with Onni Group and Conwest Contracting. It’s the largest development of its kind in the Tri-Cities, flanking the western shore of the Pitt River on one side and Lougheed Highway on the other.
The commercial portion is about 60 per cent finished, said Steve Bernier of Onni Group. He said construction of the final 300,000-sq.-ft. parcel has now begun, which will house the “Lifestyle Centre” component, featuring a mix of fashion outlets, grocery stores, restaurants and other services. When all is said and done, Fremont will have 700,000 square feet of retail space. It already includes a Walmart and a Canadian Tire, he said.
The next phase will also have a light industrial business park, a “high-street” with smaller shops, cafes and restaurants, as well as two 30-storey residential towers (Onni is now working on securing the building permits for the towers).
Fremont will also include a private community centre, a church and an array of walking trails. Terry Fox secondary and Carnoustie Golf Club are within walking distance.
Bernier said the existing retail space is already 92 per cent leased and they are now locking up tenants for the next phase. “We feel this project is a destination for the entire Tri-City area,” Bernier said in an email, adding that they will build to suit. “The ‘Lifestyle’ aspect of [the next phase] will create a vibrant community feel, featuring a wide, meandering road, and large restaurant patios.”
The adjacent residential component, under development by Mosaic, will have 1,000 row homes and lowrise condos, with roughly 4,000 residents.
Josh and Kaitlyn Chapman were among the first 75 homeowners to move in to the neighbourhood. (The homes are for sale from mid-$300,000 to just over $500,000.)
The couple had been living in the Mount Pleasant area of Vancouver, much nearer to Vancouver General Hospital where Katy works as a nurse, said Josh, a Burnaby firefighter.
Fremont was the first development they looked at after deciding to escape the city. “It made perfect sense for us,” he said. “Every amenity that you need is right at your fingertips.”
He said the unique design of the row homes also attracted them. “Even though you still are in a row home … it kind of gives you the feel that you are in your own place,” he said, adding that they hope to soon have children. “Our place overlooks the Pitt River, so we have an amazing view,” he said.
Geoff Duyker, the VP of Mosaic, said Fremont is drawing lot of young families buying their first home as well as many older couples who are downsizing. “We’re able to provide housing that can [bring in] multi-generations,” he said. “That creates great character.”