A proposal to build more than 100 townhomes on the former site of the Cloverdale Mall went to city council earlier this month, providing more details on what the developer has planned.
Mosaic, a Vancouver company that’s a familiar name in Surrey, plans to build a 114 townhouse development on the north section of the property, bordered by 57A and 58A between the bypass and 175 Street in Cloverdale.
According to the Sept. 12 planning report, the developer is seeking a Town Centre Plan amendment, a development permit and a development variance permit for parking – none of which required a public hearing.
If approved, the timeline calls for the townhomes to be completed by December 2017.
The school district projects the development will bring 23 elementary students at Martha Currie and 11 secondary students at Lord Tweedsmuir.
Both schools are already overcrowded. Lord Tweedsmuir has 18 portables this year, the most in the district, and is on an extended timetable to accommodate so many students. The Surrey School District notes a new secondary school being built in north Clayton – Salish Secondary – will alleviate some of the pressure but it won’t open until September 2018.
According to the planning report, the proposal doesn’t contain commercial units. Retail consultants and national tenants suggested the area was over-retailed by national tenants in surrounding commercial areas, and that smaller local retailers would be in direct competition with existing businesses.
The project would target first-time homebuyers; by keeping the maintenance costs low and not including amenity space, the residents would be able to use existing city amenities nearby, such as the Cloverdale Recreation Centre.
Three giant sequoia trees fronting the 176 Street bypass at 58 Avenue would be saved, according to the plan, and 199 boulevard trees added as landscaping.
The Mosaic townhome proposal has been sent back to Surrey’s planning department for further review on the parking variance.
The report recommends approval, noting, “This proposal should play a vital role in helping to encourage further redevelopment and stimulate business in the Cloverdale Town Centre area.”
As it stands, the proposal calls for 114 units in 16 buildings. Mosaic plans to consolidate two lots at 17555 and 17568 57A Avenue into one spanning 57A Avenue. Half of the units would have an indoor and outdoor parking space, with eight outdoor parking spaces for the loft units instead of 16 required for the loft units, which are less than 900 square feet in size.
The parking for 57 tandem units – half of the townhouse units in the development – would have one outdoor parking space and one inside parking space.
The planning department recommends a restrictive covenant on the tandem parking spaces preventing them from being converted into livable space.
Meanwhile, the response from Cloverdale’s business community has been largely positive, even “excited” says Paul Orazietti, executive director of the Cloverdale BIA, which represents about 300 adjacent businesses in the historic town centre.
If approved, the development would make good on a long-standing promise to redevelop and revitalize the Surrey City Development Corporation owned site.
Less than one year ago, concerns over the slow pace of progress hijacked a SCDC meeting at the Cloverdale Rec. Centre, where representatives from the development corp., the City of Surrey, Mosaic, and Townline, another developer with ties to the site, heard from neighbouring business owners.
There were no public comments to the planning department by the time of the report to council.
According to Orazietti, BIA members have previously raised concerns about parking at a meeting where a Surrey councillor was present.
Orazietti said the BIA board also questioned the use of a tandem garage stall.
“The idea here is they don’t want you using your garage space for a room,” he said, noting the restrictive covenant that’s under consideration.
The dilapidated mall was torn down in 2011 in order to redevelop the former City of Surrey property in phases as a blend of commercial and residential units called Cloverdale West Village.
Those plans stalled when environmental contamination from a former dry cleaner was discovered, ushering in remediation efforts even as site serving work got underway, leading to a sense of frustration in the historic town centre.
Today, work is well underway at The Bristol, at 5738 175 Street, a four-storey residential and commercial development being constructed by Townline on the southwest corner of the former mall site.
The Bristol is slated for completion in summer 2017, and will have retail space on the ground floor and 85 one and two-bedroom rental units upstairs.
The Bristol, a development already underway on the former mall site, will have 20,000 square feet of retail along with rental units.
According to Orazietti, Mosaic doesn’t yet own the property in question, but has made Surrey City Development Corporation a conditional offer that would close in January, provided the contamination on the site has been successfully remediated.
A bioremediation process was expected to be complete by September.
The planning report says there isn’t a retail component to avoid competition with neighbouring businesses, but Orazietti says that isn’t accurate.
Both the BIA and the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce have put recruiting new businesses to the area as their top priorities.
Orazietti said Mosaic had difficulty getting interest from regional or national commercial tenants in establishing new retail outlets in the Cloverdale proposal.
“A lot of them believe they deal with the Cloverdale market through Langley,” he said.