Big plans for downtown Dewdney

Part of the project would involve re-aligning 224th Street, to remove the bend in the road just north of Dewdney.



If council agrees, the busy downtown corner of 224th Street and Dewdney Trunk Road will be changing, in stages, resulting in five towers, from 15 to 25 storeys, housing a hotel, seniors residences, an educational institute, condos, restaurants and shopping.

The intent is to create a “people friendly village at the heart of Maple Ridge,” by aligning buildings on the perimeter of the property bordered by Dewdney Trunk, 224th and 223rd streets, and Brown Avenue, architect Peter Mallen told council Monday.

Within those boundaries, a courtyard will create a pedestrian-centred area.

Part of the project would involve re-aligning 224th Street, to remove the bend in the road just north of Dewdney.

Tom Meier, of Johnston Meier Insurance Agencies, first considered the project in 2008, but it was shelved because of the recession. The project will now be phased in over 10 years.

The drawings shown to council indicate the maximum build-out of the project, though it may vary in scale according to market conditions, Mallen said.

“Within the length of time, we’ll have a development that looks very close to the drawings.

“We’re really excited by bringing this forward … and getting this moving along.”

He said the project has been discussed for five years, and was excited to be moving forward on an entire block.

Mallen added later that it’s expected that the rezoning process will generate interest from other developers to partner in the process. A hotel, educational institute, and some large retailers have shown interest, and development applications are expected within a year.

Once larger tenants are signed, others usually follow. The residential towers planned for the north side of the project could be the last to be built. Even given the higher prices of concrete towers, there could be a market for people seeking to live there as opposed to wood-framed buildings, he said.

Coun. Craig Speirs, chairing Monday’s committee meeting, welcomed the project.

“This is a great journey. We’re really looking forward to it.”

The project involves 16 properties, and rezoning 10 of them, the remainder of which already have commercial zoning. All but one of the properties within the block has been assembled for the development. The rezoning application could later be replaced by a comprehensive development plan for the whole area, to be considered by council.

Overall, more than 226,000 square feet of commercial space and 693,000 sq. ft. of residential and hotel accommodation will result.

Mayor Ernie Daykin said the project will be a game-changer for downtown, even though it could take a decade to build out.

“It’s going to change the face of downtown Maple Ridge.

“Not very often do you get a chunk of property under one ownership, which is one of the biggest challenges in our downtown.”

A staff report says the proposal “aims to significantly increase” the downtown population and calls it one of the “most significant developments in the town centre in the past decade.”

A set of design guidelines will ensure that the project remains consistent over the number of years it is built.

The proposal went to council’s regular meeting on Tuesday.