I imagine that when the Harris Green Village Centre was built in the 1980's, it didn't seem that strange to have a suburban mall a few blocks from downtown. Malls were everywhere and having convenient parking was a must to attract customers. Back then, Wilson Centre (As I think it was called?), would have seemed like a modern addition to the city.
Over thirty years later, despite remaining a busy and central part of the core, Harris Green Village (As I am certain it is called now), is becoming more and more of an anachronism with each passing year.
|Car and Pedestrian shared pathway|
For when it was built, it did do a good job of trying to tie into the urban fabric around it. There are roadways that are also pedestrian paths and the way it is laid out slows drivers down on account of this. There is also a pedestrian route between View Street and Yates Street with a small courtyard and wide staircase (Also part of a five block mid block walkway!). There are portions of the centre that are pedestrian oriented such as the smaller building with Bin 4 and the small cafe; and the 1995 addition that has the Frontrunners store.
Still when you look at the central building that house London Drugs, Cobbs and a small second hand store it clearly is a product of its time. This is being made all the more evident as the area around the centre has been going through a transformation, becoming year over year more a part of downtown, than a raceway into the city.
|Mid-block Walkway to View Street|
Already the blocks around the centre are home to many of the city's high rises and more are on the way. Across the street, where the Philip Nyren Store was, is now a hole that will be home to the 17 storey Legato condo building. A block to the west, David Chard is building the 819 Yates, a 15 storey market rental building. In addition to these two projects, there are at least four more projects moving through the approval process or starting up soon within three blocks. The key thing about these new buildings is that they are being built as urban themed projects with ground floor commercial that comes right to the sidewalk with no customer parking.
|The staircase up from View Street|
I shop at London Drugs all the time, having it in the downtown core is great; having the Market on Yates right there with customer parking is something Harris Green and downtown as a whole need to continue to grow and thrive; yet the centre still seems more and more like a weight on the emerging energy of the area. The one corner that faces Vancouver and View Streets which was redeveloped in the mid-1990's shows that there is some potential for the property.
My hope would be for the owner to come forward with a plan to redevelop the property in stages so that the current tenants could, for the most part, be kept open while the place gets transformed into new buildings with commercial that starts at the sidewalk, underground parking and hopefully some new residential and commercial space above it. If there is a way that the mid block walkway can be maintained here, I would be happy.
How would you want to see Harris Green Village Centre transformed?