Market prices blamed for shelving new Cloverdale legion plans

The plan to build a new home for the Cloverdale Legion has been put on hold.

Artist's rendering of Cloverdale West Village

Artist's rendering of Cloverdale West Village

The plan to build a new home for the Cloverdale Legion has been put on hold.

Citing current market conditions and higher project costs, two of the partners behind Cloverdale West Village, a city-backed plan to redevelop the former Cloverdale Mall site, have decided to shelve phase one for the time being.

Instead, Surrey City Development Corporation and TL Housing Solutions/Townline Homes Inc. will focus on a different phase of the project.

“It’s sort of a revenue and a cost item,” Jim Cox, president and CEO of Surrey City Development Corporation said Tuesday.

“We’re going to start a different phase, and put services in and get the overall project going,” he said. “We hope by undertaking some activity there that the world’s going to see that it’s a developing place and more than an empty parking lot.”

Cox said Royal Canadian Legion Branch 6 members  have been told to expect a delay of one to two years before the project can be relaunched.

In that time, it’s hoped the local condominium market will strengthen, enabling the three parties to come up with a project that will make money.

In the meantime, the deal between Branch 6, Surrey City Development Corp., and Townline remains on the table, Cox said.

“The plans haven’t changed at all,” he said. “Just the order of them.”

In late 2010, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 6 members approved a plan to swap the land their existing legion is on in exchange for a new facility in phase  one of Cloverdale West Village, a residential and commercial development that is to transform the old Cloverdale Mall site into a multi-phase urban village with shops, townhomes and public spaces.

The legion would own its new cantina outright, plus have an option to buy retail space and in turn lease it out as a revenue source.

The members learned the news of the delay last week.

“There was disappointment. There’s no two ways about it,” Branch 6 new building committee chair Glenn Thomsen said. “The membership was looking forward to a new facility.”

There’s disappointment, too, that the promise of an additional source of revenue in the form of commercial leasing opportunities won’t be fulfilled in the short term, anyway.

The Cloverdale West Village master plan calls 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 600 to 700 new residents into the historic downtown.

Step one was a five-story building on the corner of 57 Avenue and 176 Street that included a new legion hall, plus 100 residential units and commercial space on the ground floor.

The legion’s finances are sound, Thomsen stressed, adding, “The redevelopment would have been a bonus.”

But all that will have to wait for now.

“We’ve been in this building for 60 years and a couple more years isn’t the end of the world.”

Nearly one year ago, a demolition company began tearing down the Cloverdale Mall, starting with the former anchor store, Safeway, and gradually reducing the leaking, dilapidated mall into a pile or rubble.

Construction on the project’s first phase in the southwest corner was expected to get underway sometime last year.

But 2011 came and went without much activity on the site, now housed behind a chain-link fence.

As recently as this summer, downtown business owners were being told that the first residential units would be on the market for fall.

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