Demolition to make way for White Rock’s newest highrise got underway in the town centre Monday morning. (Ventana Construction Corporation photo)

Demolition in uptown White Rock sparks residents’ lament

23-storey seniors tower expected open in two years

Buildings at the main gateway to White Rock were demolished Monday morning, to make way for a 23-storey rental highrise for seniors.

PARC Retirement Living broke ground last April for the development – located in the 1500-block between Johnston Road and George Street – which is expected to open in the summer of 2019.

Monday’s work drew a small crowd, project superintendent Dan McQuigge, of Ventana Construction Corporation, told Peace Arch News.

“This morning, when we dropped that building, there must’ve been 20 people over there,” McQuigge said, referring to the west side of Johnston Road.

The operation went off without a hitch, he said.

Many who commented on videos of the demolition that were posted to PAN’s Facebook page expressed sadness.

“A part of me just died,” writes Nik Esposito.

Carol Laskowski notes “soooo many changes” in White Rock since she moved to the city in 1971.

“Some were good and brought a lot more convenience and a wonderful walkway along the water front. But stuffing White Rock with high rise after high rise, is NOT in the ‘good’ list.”

Laskowski writes. “So sad to see the unique character of WR being torn down and hauled away. And I won’t event get started on the loss of trees…”

“It’s just the beginning,” writes Ben Stewart. “A development company has bought Central Plaza.”

At the scene late Thursday morning, one man who described himself as a longtime resident also commented on the changes to White Rock.

“Time to leave,” he said, declining to provide his name but noting he went to school with former MLA Gordon Hogg.

“There’s nothing you recognize.”

McQuigge said Ventana will be at the site for the next two years constructing the 202-unit independent-living accommodation.

First proposed in December 2015, White Rock council approved the development permit last November, following a public hearing in which city staff and Mayor Wayne Baldwin reminded speakers that the town centre is pre-zoned for development up to 25 storeys in height.

At the April groundbreaking – where longtime business owners and tenants who had spent decades at the site were thanked by the developer – PARC chairman and owner Rainer Müller told attendees the building “will honour the intention of the vision of White Rock.”

Baldwin predicted it will be “the cornerstone of our revitalization.”