Contamination holds up Cloverdale mall redevelopment
The sidewalks will be completed and concrete and construction debris will be removed from what the president of the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce has called the city’s ‘mess’ in Cloverdale.
Debris, including discarded mattresses, has already been removed from the old Cloverdale Mall site, according to Doug Avis, vice president of development and investment with the Surrey City Development Corporation, speaking in the wake of strong criticism from local business leaders about delays of the long-promised revitalization and redevelopment project (“Neglectful. Insulting. A mess,” July 24).
The Surrey City Development Corp., in partnership with Townline Housing Solutions, is planning to re-develop the 10-acre site as a multi-phase residential and commercial project, but have had to grapple with an environmental problem – contamination stemming from a former dry cleaning operation – creating more delays.
Site servicing began last summer, when crews began installing sewer infrastructure, paving roads and creating curbs – promising signs that the start of construction was imminent, even if the lack of a sidewalk on the north side of 57 Avenue has meant pedestrians have hobbled over rough gravel for months.
Avis told The Reporter that “a complex and lengthy remediation process is still ongoing.” He said the site is classified by the B.C. Ministry of the Environment as “high risk,” adding an additional level of scrutiny and difficulty to the remediation process, which began in 2012.
SCDC hired SNC-Lavalin to remediate the site, bordered by the Cloverdale bypass and 175 Street, but there were complications with contaminants associated with the dry cleaner, resulting in further remediation work being necessary.
SCDC was hoping remediation would have been complete by 2013, “but regretfully, this is no longer the case,” Avis said.
The development corporation is now hoping to obtain a certificate of compliance for the southwest corner of the site – the location of phase one, which includes a new home for the Cloverdale Legion, along with residential units – by the end of 2014 or early 2015.
The rest of the site will require ongoing remediation and risk mitigation measures through 2015, he said, meaning a certificate of compliance from MOE isn’t expected for phases two to four until 2016, or another two years.
Meanwhile, discussions between the proponents and a representative of the Cloverdale Legion are ongoing, with a meeting with Branch 6 expected this fall.
“The residential condo market is also a challenge in Cloverdale,” he said.
Phase one was put on hold at the start of 2012 due to market conditions, but other residential projects in downtown Cloverdale have been completed since then.
Avis conceded those other residential projects are being marketed, but said their sales are slower than anticipated.
“SCDC and its development partners have a much narrower risk tolerance than other developers may have, and as such, the continuing weakness in values are a concern to us,” he said.
“The lack of major public transit infrastructure in the immediate vicinity of the Cloverdale town centre plays a large part in the weakness of the local condo market,” he added. “In spite of the slow market, Townline is still committed to purchasing the Phase one site from us, which will occur once we receive a [certificate of compliance].”
Avis said Townline plans to start marketing their project in early 2015.
There will still be activity on the site due to ongoing environmental remediation.
Voicing frustration with ongoing project delays, Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce president Brian Young unleashed a torrent of criticism late last month, calling the site a “vacant mess” and calling the City of Surrey and the SCDC “neglectful and downright insulting to our community.”
Three years after the dilapidated mall was demolished, Young said he feared it may be another 10 or 20 years before the project becomes a reality.
Cloverdale BIA president Rob Paterson called the lack of progress a “major road block to any further development downtown.”