Hotel on 224th St. moving forward

A 125-room hotel along the Haney Bypass could open up new tourism opportunities for Maple Ridge and become a catalyst for development in the Port Haney area.

The hotel would have 125 rooms and

The hotel would have 125 rooms and

A 125-room hotel along the Haney Bypass could open up new tourism opportunities for Maple Ridge and become a catalyst for development in the Port Haney area.

The proposed hotel cleared its first hurdle Tuesday night as Maple Ridge council voted unanimously to approve the first reading of its rezoning application.

The site for the hotel is currently a collection of eight residential properties, sitting largely derelict at the intersection of Callaghan Avenue and the foot of 224th Street. In it’s place, local developer Multi-Well Development plans to build 30,000 square feet of commercial space, an upscale Asian restaurant, with 125 hotel rooms on top.

If the project receives final approval from council, the hotel would effectively double the number of rooms available in Maple Ridge.

Councillors lauded the development, and the positive affect they hope it will have on the neighbourhood.

“It will be quite wonderful for a building to occupy one of the many vacant lots in that part of town,” said Coun. Linda King, who lives in the neighbourhood.

The facility could help boost tourism, she noted, as many people who attend events in Maple Ridge must stay out of town due to the lack of hotel rooms locally.

“Hopefully this investment spurs on others,” she said.

Seiko Huang, Multi-Well Development’s president, said he chose the area because of the views it offers over the Fraser River, and the central location. Huang, originally from Taiwan, has lived in Maple Ridge for 20 years, and resides a few hundred metres away from the development on River Road.

“There’s a lot of opportunity here,” he said. “[City staff] said they wanted a hotel downtown, but I think this site is better.”

Huang said he has been in talks with Best Western and Holiday Inn to operate the hotel as a franchise.

“We want four-star quality,” he said, adding that he hopes the hotel will help revitalize the Port Haney area, and become a landmark for years to come.

“It isn’t just about making money,” Huang said. “In Chinese culture, we want to leave something for our children.”

Local resident John McKenzie, who plans on running for Maple Ridge council later this year, said the hotel is another sign the neighbourhood is turning around.

“I think this is going to be a real catalyst for the area, and provide some much-needed jobs,” he said.

McKenzie feels safer in the area since the notorious Northumberland Court closed and the nearby development of Ridge Meadows Association for Community Living’s Callaghan Plaza assisted living apartments were built in 2009.

“Three years ago it was a hell hole.”

The proposed hotel is still likely years from completion and will need to pass two more readings of its rezoning application, and go to a public hearing.

“There is still some work to do, but they are committed,” said Coun. Judy Dueck.

Coun. Craig Spiers said he would like to see traffic lights installed at the intersection of Callaghan and the bypass, where the hotel would be located.

“Pedestrians and traffic do not mix,” he commented.

Coun. Mike Morden abstained from the vote, citing a conflict of interest.

“I have property next door to this piece, which I’m happy will be approved,” he said as he excused himself.