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Downtown Maple Ridge will have 24-hour shopping with the opening of the Thrifty Foods grocery store at Haney Place Mall on Wednesday.
Store manager Dave Krupski said the continued development in Maple Ridge’s downtown helped make it viable for the 35,000 sq. foot store to stay open around the clock.
“No one else in this area is open 24 hours, so anyone in Maple Ridge will be able to shop at all hours,” he said. “Downtown is perfect for us. It’s definitely growing, and we want to be a part of that.”
Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin said Thrifty Foods’ decision to open a 24-hour store is a testament to the company’s confidence in downtown Maple Ridge.
“They sees the potential here,” he said.
Daykin added that Thrifty Foods fills a void in downtown Maple Ridge that was created when Safeway closed, close to 10 years ago.
Having a major anchor tenant like Thrifty Foods at Haney Place Mall will mean increased business for other retailers there, says the mall’s owner.
“It’s an incredible draw to the shopping centre,” said Chris Sherry, spokesperson for Narland Properties, owner of Haney Place Mall.
In addition to Thrifty Foods, Haney Place Mall will also see the opening of an $10 million Target retail store next year, while nearby construction has started on the Great Canadian Gaming centre and a handful of mixed-use commercial/residential developments.
Much of that has been spurred by incentives offered by the District of Maple Ridge to encourage growth downtown, says Daykin.
The Town Centre Investment Incentive provides fast-tracked approval for development projects downtown, a municipal property tax exemption for three years, discounts on building permits, and money for property owners to renovate their building’s facade.
Since last October, the downtown incentives have generated 36 new projects, resulting in nearly 1,200 new townhomes and condominiums and another 27,000 sq. metres of commercial space.
In all, more than $110 million in construction projects are planned for downtown Maple Ridge, with $65 million already having applied for building permits.
“What we’re hearing is that time saved is as valuable as the money,” Daykin said.
Narland spent close to $2 million to renovate the mall’s east end, and was one of the 36 projects to take advantage of the business incentives program.
“[The incentives are] a huge stimulus of positive growth and development for downtown,” Daykin said. “I definitely believe we will see more high density residential development in the area [as a result].”
Densification downtown will also allow Maple Ridge to grow while taking advantage of existing infrastructure, reducing the cost to taxpayers.
Daykin said the goal for the downtown is to top 20,000 residents in the next 10 years.
“In 2003, we were at 8,500, and we’re well over 10,000 now,” he said. “And the development is just beginning.”
As more businesses set up shop downtown, Daykin said there will be more opportunities for local residents to spend their money locally, instead of having to drive to Langley or Port Coquitlam.
“You are supporting your neighbours by spending locally,” he said. “An a lot of local business support fundraising efforts ... they’re giving back to the community.”