A major downtown Maple Ridge property could have new owners if the sale completes early in 2019.
Ten lots of the former Mussallem Motors property on 223rd Street and Lougheed Highway have been up for sale for years.
Now, a Surrey developer has shown interest in the historic location.
Dave Mussallem said Wednesday that a price has been agreed on, and a deposit has been made, although the final sale hasn’t yet taken place.
“They have removed subjects on the deal, but it won’t complete until next year. Hopefully, they’ll complete. But it looks like a reasonable deal,” said Mussallem.
“I don’t consider it sold until it’s registered in their name, which it’s not yet,” he added.
But the potential purchaser has done several projects south of the Fraser River and is working with local architect Wayne Bissky on design concepts for the property.
Mussallem Motors had been an iconic part of Maple Ridge for decades with a neon sign brightening the night.
Former Maple Ridge mayor Solomon Mussallem, Dave’s grandfather, founded the business in 1919, when it was called Haney Garage Ltd. on 224th Street, south of Lougheed Highway. The business made its last move to its location on Lougheed and 223rd Street in 1947.
Dave Mussallem added that his grandfather used to own the land between Lougheed and Dewdney Trunk Road along 223rd Street and sold the lots cheaply to veterans returning from the Second World War.
“And that’s when he decided to build a garage there, as well. That all happened at the same time, at the end of the war.”
The vacant buildings burned to the ground, though, in November 2017 after a huge fire.
Mussallem is positive about the sale offer, saying the potential new owner has plans for the property, which had been priced at $10 million.
“That’s why we are sort of happy with this deal if it goes through. It’s got legitimate developers who may do something good for the town.”
But it’s still possible the buyer could have second thoughts and pull out of the deal, which involves five lots on Lougheed Highway and five on Selkirk Avenue.
Mussallem has been a developer for 40 years and said he’s never seen a real estate market downturn occur, “when the general economy is doing so well … so it’s a strange time.”
He added that other cities are growing while Maple Ridge development lags.
“We haven’t got the share of development like across the river. It’s very impressive in Langley, and Abbotsford and Surrey.”
He said the family wanted to sell the property to someone who would develop it and not let it sit.
Maple Ridge Mayor Mike Morden said Thursday that the possible sale was positive, but hasn’t seen any details.
“Obviously, the city would welcome that major entrance to our downtown core to be developed to generate jobs and tax space … and we hope what they’re going to bring us is going to be something that we’re going to want to do … is going to fall in line with the vision of our downtown.”
He said the city welcomes positive change to the area, adding it’s time the city grows up “and has something that’s more suitable for the era we’re going into for our future. I hope that they go up.”
On the south side of Lougheed Highway, the Haney Hotel, also has been listed for $13.8 million. That offers 222,000 sq. feet of possible buildable area. The listing also offers a possible leasing arrangement for a new owner of the hotel, pub and liquor store operation.