New Legion back on track

The first phase of the long-awaited Cloverdale West Village redevelopment has been brought back to life.

Conceptual drawing of phase one of Cloverdale West Village.

A plan to build a new Cloverdale Legion that was shelved six months ago is unexpectedly being brought back to life.

Phase one of Cloverdale West Village, the City of Surrey’s long-standing promise to redevelop the derelict old Cloverdale Mall site into a thriving neighbourhood hub, will be going ahead after all, members of the Cloverdale Business Improvement Association were told last week.

“It’s embarrassing because it’s been a long time in the works,” said Jim Cox, CEO of the Surrey City Development Corp.  “But it’s going to happen.”

The project was put on hold in January, when the Legion’s partners, SCDC and developer Townline Housing Solutions, decided current market conditions and higher project costs meant putting phase one off for up to two years.

The proponents instead were going to focus on a different phase of the residential and commercial development, which represents the cornerstone of the city’s revitalization plans for Cloverdale.

In November 2010, members of the Cloverdale Legion agreed to relocate into a 10,000-square foot new home built at street level of a five-storey complex with residential units and retail space.

In return, the Legion would own its new hall outright, and would lease out commercial space for revenue.

On June 27, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 6 members approved a slightly revised plan, meaning phase one can go ahead after heading back to city hall for final adjustments.

Branch 6 president Frank Redekop credited Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts for getting phase one off the back burner.

“After many discussions, this is definitely the best option for us,” Redekop said.

Under the deal, the Legion will get a new, 10,000-square-foot hall, plus 1,800-square-foot of additional retail space the Legion will rent out, providing a source of ongoing revenue.

There will be four floors of residential space – either sold as strata or rented out at market value – above the ground floor, where the Legion and retail space will be.

The residential units will be mostly one and two-bedroom units, with an average size of 600-square-feet.

“Our belief is this project will hopefully make us money, but significantly, we hope it will achieve some community objectives in taking that site out of what it is now, an empty parking lot, a derelict site, into an active part of the community,” Cox said.

Townline is partnering with the city on the first two phases of Cloverdale West Village, a five-phase development bordered by the 176 Street bypass and 57 Avenue.

The property, now owned by the City of Surrey, was home to the Cloverdale Shoppers Plaza from 1973 until it was torn down early last year.

The site, long the focus of redevelopment promises, is zoned for high density residential, permitting up to 10 storeys of residential, however soil conditions preclude building more than one level of underground parking, limiting the residential component.

The Cloverdale West Village master plan called for 485 residential units in three, five and six-storey buildings built over five phases, creating 50,000 to 60,000-square feet of retail space to Cloverdale and bringing hundreds of new residents into downtown.

“That’s going to be 1,000 shoppers that will support the community around here,” Cox said. “We see it as a neighbourhood hub that’s knit right in with the existing downtown of Cloverdale.”

There will be no low income housing, Cox clarified for Cloverdale BIA members June 28.

There had been some initial talk of potentially including supportive housing for Legion members, but that idea was abandoned early on.

Once complete, the original Legion building will be demolished and the land redeveloped for phase two.

According to Cox, both the SCDC and Townline are bringing more money to the table, and the Legion made a concession.

“This project is going to be a little tight for us,” he said, adding he was hopeful getting phase one underway will kick start the redevelopment.