Downtown Maple Ridge is entering a new era – quite literally. Numerous developments, infrastructure improvement and bus service to the town centre will forever change its landscape and allow the community to be more accessible than ever before.
The city is seeing some of its biggest development projects get underway and with the B-line bus service from Coquitlam expected to launch early next year people will be able to move through Maple Ridge with ease.
The new infrastructure and potential flood of people to the town centre is a welcome change, according to a local city councillor and community professionals.
“There wasn’t a lot of opposition at all, there were some questions and that, but no, people were quite happy,” said Coun. Chuck Goddard.
“We’ve had about 25 development projects completed over the last five years and another 25 projects that are in the application or [anticipate] to be complete in the next two or three years,” he added.
Over the last two months the city has approved over 2,000 new units in the town centre through four or five applications, according Goddard, who called the figures “quite significant.”
One of those applications include phase one of Era, a SwissReal development, that was given third reading at council on Oct. 29 which Goddard says essentially implies the project has been given approval.
“It’s the biggest development project we’ve ever had and it really will change the look and feel of the downtown,” he said.
The 7.5 acre development site will take up three blocks between Haney Plaza and 224th Street, situated between Dewdney Trunk Road in the south and Brown Avenue in the north.
The project is set to be developed over seven phases with phase one set for completion next year. Once finished the nearly 900 unit development will offer market and rental homes, as well as 50,000 sq. ft. of commercial and 10,000 sq. ft. of office space.
The project will also raise significant funds for the city.
“They’re going to be providing the city a number of fees, particularly the community amenity fee is going to be totalling about $2.3 million dollars paid in each phase and that money is going to be used for the city’s council priorities,” said Goddard.
The high rises range in size from 10 to 12 stories, and up to 20 stories in the last phase.
“Also, with this application [it] [will] realign 224th Street to better match up with 224th Street south of Dewdney Truck, and actually when that occurs we’re not sure, but it’ll be in the later phases I suspect,” said Goddard.
Revitalization of the down town is a long time coming for the Business Improvement Association (BiA) who has been working to revive the area since the organization’s inception in 2007, according Ineke Boekhorst executive director of the organization.
“We applaud the kind of developments that are coming forward, many of them are residential with commercial on the bottom so it adds more niche little shops which is what we’re all about,” she said.
The BiA runs an annual facade improvement program which encourages business owners to freshen up their storefronts and they can recoup up to 50 per cent of the costs.
“This year we had 10 applicants and $50,000 was granted, and so the property owners have to finish it (improvements) before the end of the year,” Boekhorst explained.
Meanwhile, just north of Era at 223th Street and Brown Avenue, Platinum Enterprises also received approval at the same council meeting after a public hearing for its 330 unit development in three apartment buildings with underground parking.
In addition to these developments Bissky Architecture recently applied to develop the historic Old Mussallem Motors site.
Also, the Brickwater development on the corner of 227th Street and 119th Ave is working to complete its third final phase, while the Sierra development at 224th Street and McInstosh Ave has started marketing its project, but has not yet broken ground.
Despite the number of developments the city will see in the coming years the public shouldn’t be concerned with saturating the market, according to local realtor Ron Antalek.
“By phasing these projects it gives more of an even supply to the market without over-flooding… so by doing that its giving the consumer lots of choice in different projects within the core,” he explained.
“The timing seems to be excellent for the consumer to invest in real estate, so the probability of a long term investment should hopefully show a good return, so it just appears to be a great time to buy,” he added.
In addition, the town centre will be more accessible after the widening of the Haney Bypass to four lanes and the start of the B-line bus service.
The town centre is currently home to over 750 businesses and 12,000 residents and Goddard says that number will ideally increase as the developments come to fruition.