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Northumberland to come down in a few weeks

Gary McRae removes debris from units at Northumberland in preparation for asbestos removal and the eventual demolition of the buildings along Fraser St. by North Ave. Tuesday morning. - Colleen Flanagan/The News
Gary McRae removes debris from units at Northumberland in preparation for asbestos removal and the eventual demolition of the buildings along Fraser St. by North Ave. Tuesday morning.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/The News

The owner of Northumberland Court has begun gutting the notorious Maple Ridge townhouse complex as the clock ticks towards the district’s deadline for demolition.

Council ordered the action in July against the dilapidated Fraser Street property after an inspection found the buildings had been broken into and wiring wrecked.

Vancouver developer Ghalib Rawji has the required permits to tear down the battered buildings and crews started ripping out drywall from the property on Monday.

Rawji expects the complex to be levelled in four to six weeks.

Rawji bought the complex last year, after years of municipal and police frustration at controlling the drug haven.

He later bought the lot immediately to the west, with access to 224th Street, so he could build more apartments, as well as office space.

Rawji is currently working on final drawings for 29 townhouses and a 24-unit apartment building to submit to the district.

He assures neighbours who are concerned the property will languish undeveloped that he won’t walk away from it.

“I know we are the catalyst for change in the neighbourhood,” said Rawji on Monday as he watched workers dismantle the innards of one building.

“So far, everything looks good and viable.”

Rawji is still fighting with a lawsuit launched by the previous majority owner of the townhouse complex, Jagdev ‘Jack’ Athwal.

Athwal filed the lawsuit in January, alleging Rawji’s company, Northumberland Fraser Street Holdings Inc., reneged on conditions agreed to when it lent Athwal more than $300,000 to clear title on the townhouse complex.

In a response to Athwal’s claim filed in New Westminster Supreme Court, Rawji states that it is Athwal who has defaulted on the mortgage, a promissory note and is in breach of the agreement.

He has asked the court to dismiss Athwal’s lawsuit and said it has been “temporarily” settled.

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