The Bristol

The Bristol to halve its commercial space

"Little interest" from retailers prompts proposal to replace retail units with home-based businesses.

Changes are in the works for The Bristol, the 4-storey mixed-use apartment building currently under construction on 175 Street.

Townline Homes has applied for a permit to convert half of the originally proposed ground floor commercial space into 11 “live/work” residential units.

The proposed changes to the apartment building would allow the completion of a building with 97 residential units (previously 86 units) and 10,301 square feet of commercial space (previously 20,990 square feet).

According to a Dec. 19 City of Surrey planning report, the conversion from commercial to residential space is “in response to challenges with leasing the ground floor commercial retail space.”

Townline Homes indicated in the report that there has been “little interest” from potential commercial tenants to lease the retail units in what is the first development on the Cloverdale West Village site.

“The proposed change is a response to retail market conditions,” said Development Manager Ross Moore. “As much as Townline would like to continue with the approved design, it is simply not good business for us.”

Moore explained that limited residential development and lack of public transit in and near Cloverdale’s town centre were the limiting factors for potential retail clients.

“The general sentiment in the retail industry is that Cloverdale is over supplied with retail space given the population of the town centre,” said Moore.

“We want to be part of building the livability and economic viability of the community, not detract from it,” said Moore.

According to Moore, the amendment to reduce retail space and add live/work units both addresses the demands of the current market and leaves opportunities in the future to add to the commercial market when the demand develops.

“It has become clear to us now that we were overly optimistic with our initial design, and we are now very concerned that another 21,000 square feet of retail in the area will only reduce lease rates and reduce business to the existing retailers within the town centre,” said Moore.

Paul Orazietti, executive director of the Cloverdale Business Improvement Association, said the board of the BIA was “disappointed” in the proposed changes to The Bristol. “We (the board) will see if we can get the developer to change their position and retain the retail footprint,” he said, adding that the board would be meeting in the new year to discuss the changes to the development.

“(Cloverdale is) no longer a mass shopping centre,” said Orazietti, adding that most Cloverdale residents travel to Langley to shop. “Instead, we’re a centre for unique boutique shopping.”

Orazietti said The Bristol’s retail space is an opportunity for the “unique boutiques” of Cloverdale, and said that everything from clothing and shoe stores, to craft breweries, to a butcher or a fishmonger could find a place in one of the development’s commercial units.

The proposed residential units would convert previous commercial space into five 1-bedroom units, four 2-bedroom units and two 3-bedroom units and the remaining commercial space would become seven retail units facing 57 Avenue.

Home-based businesses

Moore said the proposed live/work units are designed to accommodate home-based businesses. According to the submitted report, the units will include a “small, den-style” street-oriented room along the commercial window wall at the front of the unit for this purpose.

“In the long term, the live/work space offers the tenant the flexibility to expand their workspace within their unit as the business grows, avoiding the potential economic hardships associated with relocating,” said Moore.

Moore said the live/work units retain the commercial intent of the at-grade development and could be “easily built” into the retail shell spaces without much change to the existing design.

More residents, more parking

Before the commercial space can be converted into “live/work” units, City Council must first grant a variance permit to allow for changes to the planned off-street parking.

In their Dec. 19 report, Townline Homes outlined a plan to create 16 additional parking stalls to serve the live/work units, increasing the total number of parking stalls to 193 from an initial 177. To do this, they requested a variance allowing them to provide 12 residential parking spaces at grade in the surface parking lot.

According to the planning report, 4 of the 16 spaces can be accommodated in the underground parking structure, and the remaining 12 would be added to the surface lot.

Business owners voiced concerns over The Bristol’s parking in February 2016 at the Cloverdale BIA’s annual general meeting. On Mar. 1, 2016, The Reporter reported that businesses were concerned about having enough parking space for shoppers, merchants and residents with the increased traffic from The Bristol.

“We are aware one of the main concerns in the Cloverdale Town Centre is the provision of adequate parking,” said Moore. “We believe convenient parking will drive consumers to our remaining 10,300 sq. ft of retail.”

Orazietti said that with parking requirements being reduced in other areas of Surrey, the areas that require the most consideration when making new developments are the oldest areas. “And 176 Street is close to 100 years old,” he said.

“We are very reliant on parking,” said Orazietti. “We’re working with the city on increasing parking.”

“Ultimately, our goal is to have more people and businesses and safe and sufficient parking,” said Orazietti.

Orazietti said the challenges of a growing town centre, including creating parking for new developments, were “positive problems” and that they “bode well” for the future. “We’re looking at a more sustainable town centre with more variety,” he said. “It’s a bright future.”

Moore was also optimistic about the future of Cloverdale’s business market, despite retailers’ current reluctance to lease space. The 97 residential units, which are expected to house around 145 residents when The Bristol is completed and ready for rental in November 2017, would bring a boost to local businesses, he said.

“The more consumers in the area, the more business for the local merchants and businesses,” said Moore.

“Our hope is that The Bristol will act as a building block for further development, residential and commercial, to come,” said Moore.


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