Environmental concerns are delaying construction of Cloverdale West Village, but one developer anticipates the first phase of construction will begin before the end of 2014.
Members of the Surrey City Development Corporation, which is leading the construction of the project, bordered by the Cloverdale Bypass and 57 Avenue, held a private meeting Jan. 28 with representatives of the neighbourhood’s business community. The groups discussed the slow-moving progress of the development that rests on the site of the former Cloverdale Plaza mall that was torn down three years ago.
“One of the things that’s been slowing us down is – believe it or not – there was a very small dry cleaner on the site before…that has caused significant environmental clean-up problems,” said SCDC development director Josh Anderson.
“It’s caused a very long and costly clean-up of the site [that] has sort of pushed us back significantly. We haven’t really been able to start the project off without dealing with that issue first.”
But he added SCDC is exploring the possibility of using technology from the U.S. to clean up dumped chemicals in an efficient manner “without blowing it out of the water from a financial perspective.”
Anderson said one of the other challenges with the property rests with the current demand for residential units in Cloverdale.
“The market, in general, has been suppressed and it’s been very difficult to make a project with the numbers that are out there,” he said.
“On the positive side, we are hopeful that a launch could happen this year on the first residential phase.”
SCDC is spearheading Cloverdale West Village along with Townline Housing Solutions in an effort to create a large mixed-use development featuring both commercial and residential space. One condition of the development’s go-ahead is the construction of a new home for Cloverdale Legion Branch 6 to replace the aging building adjacent to the property.
Anderson said negotiations between SCDC and Townline to build a new Legion are still ongoing and he could not provide further details on where they stand.
“The Legion is a critical link to the redevelopment of Cloverdale West Village,” he said.
“It’s in everyone’s best interest for them to be properly accommodated in the project.”
Paul Orazietti, executive director of the Cloverdale Business Improvement Association, said after the meeting with SCDC that he’s “mildly happy” with the progress being made on the project.
“The market is too soft for the developer to move forward. So there’s concerns about the rate and the quality of the development. So if you were to rush the project, then you wouldn’t necessarily be able to command a higher rate because of what’s happening in the marketplace,” he said.
“It’s a complicated property and because of the nature of all the variables that come in, I understand why it’s taking longer – but it is terribly frustrating.”
Orazietti said the City of Surrey has encouraged the BIA to remain patient “because ultimately whatever happens there should be the highest quality possible.”
He added the project has the potential to really transform the location from a sleepy town centre into an active urban area.
“This particular part of town has still been languishing for a while as there hasn’t been enough significant change, but it’s now getting close to a tipping point where people can say, ‘You know what? There’s a real energy (in) the old historic core and there’s also new life on Highway 10,’” he said, noting an Ace Hardware franchise is set to open shop in Cloverdale in the coming months.
“If you want to shoot for something a little more upscale, you have to let part of the town centre continue to evolve because then people will start to take a look at it in a new light and as you get going, you start to see it’s an incremental thing.”