Maple Ridge’s downtown could have three new six-storey buildings, putting another 127 condos and apartments in a project that would be built around a public plaza and walkways throughout the property at Selkirk Avenue.
Falcon Village is making the proposal for two acres between 226th and 227th streets, just east of Valley Fair Mall.
The property is part of the three acres along Selkirk Ave. that the company bought from the city last year.
An outdoor plaza, benches, walkways, bike racks and landscaping, public art and water features are featured in the development. The city wanted some features as a condition of it selling the property.
Public access through the development via the existing alley will be maintained, while there also will be sidewalks running north-south.
In addition to the esthetics, the buildings would have several eco-friendly features, such as rainwater recovery systems, roof gardens, permeable pavement to allow rainwater to sink into the soil, optimal use of daylight, electric vehicle charging stations, as well as infrastructure for future alternative energy uses.
Most at council on Tuesday liked the project, which received first reading.
Coun. Bob Masse noted that it included rental units, as well as green building features.
“I think it’s fantastic, everything that the developer is doing,” said Coun. Corisa Bell.
But Coun. Gordy Robson wanted improvements.
“I’m really disappointed in this application … we had great visions of a community plaza, courtyard. What I’m seeing now is at least half, maybe more of lands that were public, are now parking.”
However, he noted, the project was still at first reading, while more details will be provided at second reading.
Once complete, the buildings will change a key part of the downtown area by filling in an empty lot with both residential and commercial.
Two more buildings that face on 227th Street will comprise later phases, for a total of five new structures in addition to the two already standing to the west that Falcon built previously.
The city bought 14 lots, comprising the three acres, in 2011 for $3.7 million. It then gave notice to tenants to vacate, tore down the derelict homes and cleaned up the lots. The city then sold the property to Falcon Homes a year ago for $7 million.
“This site is a little over three acres, and when you look at the work that has been done by Falcon Homes on their property on 226th Street, it’s obvious how they have embraced the town centre area plan with the ground level commercial and the wider sidewalks that will help create a more active streetscape,” Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read said last year.
The new construction will complement a facelift planned for the south exterior of Valley Fair Mall on 227th Street and Lougheed Highway.
The sidewalk along the building will be separated from the parking lot by installing planters, while tables and chairs and lighting will also improve things for pedestrians. Updating signs and entrances will also be part of the project and the use of brick on the outside will fit in with Maple Ridge’s heritage buildings, says a staff report.
Once complete, that refit could complement another project planned for downtown. Council OK’d Maple Ridge’s public art steering committee recommendation that two locations at the gateways to downtown as sites for its 2017 public art projects.
One location would be on Dewdney Trunk Road and the other on Lougheed Highway, both at 222nd Street, and would serve as sites for “gateway monuments” of public art and could have a theme that recognizes Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017.
Council approved those locations along with pilot street mural project at a location to be named. The art is already funded through the existing budget.
“Public art will contribute to the culture and character of a place and to making communities more welcoming and livable,” says a staff report.