A few years ago I became familiar with a 2005 Port Moody report, “Moody Centre Commercial Market Assessment and Revitalization Strategy Gap Analysis”.
The objective of this report was to provide an overview of the market position and redevelopment strategy for the retail component of the Moody Centre Commercial District, “…a relatively large and mature commercial district, which could be revitalized”.
It confirmed untapped levels of demand that could easily support a huge retail infrastructure, much like what has been envisioned for Moody Centre at the “Western Gateway” (“The area extending along Albert Street/Barnet Highway from St. Johns Street to Short Street is often referred to as the Western Gateway to Port Moody. It is intended that the scale of redevelopment in this area will be reflective of its prominence as an entrance to the City.” – Port Moody’s DEVELOPMENT PERMIT GUIDELINES section 12.1 Development Permit Area 2 for Moody Centre).
Here are some revealing and disturbing excerpts from the Gap Analysis:
The (Moody Centre) commercial district does not have the scale or types of stores required to serve the retail needs of consumers. The majority of all residents’ retail expenditures go outside the trade area to much larger destinations.
It is the food and service businesses that Moody Centre is well positioned to satisfy. There is over $30 million in potential supermarket sales available. This could support two supermarkets, or close to 50,0000 sq.ft. of supermarket space, yet there is not a single supermarket within the study area.
Moody Centre trade area could support a wide range of and scale of stores. The main problem with capturing the retail sales of this market is the presence of competitive stores nearby and the lack of anchor stores on site. One of the most important steps to increase sales would be to increase the local population by allowing more multi-family development.
If Port Moody residents shopped within their own city, the estimated demand shown here for the trade area could be more than tripled.
This last point is particularly poignant for the owners and residents on the west side of Barnet Highway. We have failed to market the untapped demand identified in this report, and almost 5 years later little has changed.
Today the Evergreen Line offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to integrate the existing neighbourhoods in the west end of Port Moody, “under-serviced” as they remain, which are ripe for revitalization and growth.
This Western Gateway area has been affectionately (although unofficially) identified as “Old Port” (in contrast to the built-out, “Newport”) by many of those engaged in the ongoing OCP process and is seen as an excellent location from which to serve a large and underserved market.
According to draft OCP documents, “Commercial land use needs for Port Moody will be met through a number of strategies…” including, “…higher density mid-rise and high-rise mixed use development in nodes or clusters within Moody Centre.” This clearly offers some hope.
The single most important issue is that the west side of Port Moody has no “Landmark” or anchor tenants. New residential development and retail located near an Evergreen station in this area is a potential answer, which would help integrate the western neighbourhoods and develop a distinct identity for the Western Gateway to Port Moody.