The City of Maple Ridge has turned what was once an eyesore into what could be a defining feature of the downtown.
Maple Ridge bought 14 lots along Selkirk Avenue, between 226th and 227th streets in 2010 in an attempt to clean up the area, which had several ramshackle homes.
After people were evicted, the derelict homes were destroyed, the land cleared and the property put on the market, with the hope that someone would create a showcase development, as envisioned in the town centre area plan.
After issuing its second request for proposals last year, three proponents responded with detailed plans for council to consider.
Council accepted the one by Falcon Homes for $7 million.
Falcon Homes had already built two, four-storey condo buildings along 226th Street, next to the city’s property.
“There’s obvious appreciation for the work already done on the site,” city assistant property and risk manager Darrell Denton said.
Fred Formosa, with Falcon Homes, said five new buildings will be constructed on the property at the rate of about one per year. A four-storey building will be built along 227th Street, while five and six-storey, wood-frame buildings will be constructed closer to the middle of the property.
Public space in the centre of it will allow people to walk through, and there will be space allowed for public art.
The intent is to use brick and stone to enhance the European ambience by mixing commercial on ground floor with residential above.
Formosa said the development is the largest single project his company has done.
“We’re excited to get going.”
The company is proceeding without the downtown incentive grants offered to condo developers in the past few years, and despite the homeless issue in Maple Ridge.
The latter wasn’t as much of an issue last year, Formosa added.
“But since then, it’s been a very big thing.
“And projects we’ve built are suffering for it.”
Marketing of Falcon Homes new condo building beside the Billy Miner Pub on River Road, just down the hill from the Cliff Avenue homeless camp, has been affected, he said.
Rezoning of the Selkirk Ave. property land to allow the building is still required. That could be about a year-long process with construction of the first building starting a year from now.