Two parcels in Albion flats up for sale in central Maple Ridge. (Contributed)

Smart Centres’ Albion flats lots up for sale

Future undecided for area where shopping was proposed

SmartCentres property development company has put its 25 acres in Albion flats up for sale for $8 million.

The land includes two parcels, one next to Kanaka Way, just north of Lougheed Highway, and the other fronting on to Lougheed Highway near Jim Robson Way, in central Maple Ridge.

The properties are within the Agricultural Land Reserve, the area west of Jim Robson Way, which the Agricultural Land Commission said previously must remain within the farm reserve.

Steve Caldwell, the listing agent, said selling the property is a matter of finding an owner who can find a use for that land, perhaps a brew pub, or small, agricultural related uses.

“We think that the price is pretty fair assessed value for agricultural land.”

The city is in the process of developing an area plan for Albion flats that will outline long-term uses.

The property was listed two weeks ago for $8 million, the assessed value of the property, Caldwell added.

He doesn’t expect it to be difficult to sell.

“I think we’re probably going to sell to somebody who’s looking to buy a prime agricultural site, with some exposure, in an area that will see changes in the next 10 years. What does that mean for this property, who knows.”

Smart Centres vice-president Sandra Kaiser said the company had bought the property in anticipation of developing a shopping centre there.

“With our acquisition of Haney Place Mall and the changing retail landscape, plus the reluctance to remove these lands from the Agricultural Land Reserve, we have listed these lands for sale,” Kaiser said Thursday. She added though that SmartCentres is, “very willing to consider alternate development opportunities, should they arise.”

In 2014, the City of Maple Ridge and Smart Centres were negotiating a land exchange involving both sides of Jim Robson Way. But that fell through in 2015.

Caldwell said it could be a great site for the city, maybe for parkland or civic uses, he added.

“It’s got great access and it’s a pretty nice site.”

Maple Ridge council heard a presentation on drainage for the Albion flats area at its Tuesday meeting. The Agricultural Land Commission has said that it will consider excluding land on the east side of Jim Robson Way to allow development, providing drainage is improved for the farmland on the west side of Jim Robson Way.

Coun. Judy Dueck added, though, that for the city to do the drainage improvements, there has to be interest to develop the property on the east side.

“For us to do it without any appetite for retail on the other side, I just don’t see why we would go there,” she said Wednesday.

She said previous councils envisaged big box stores for the area.

“But we all know big box is not where the market is going anymore.”

As well, she added, Wal-Mart has since moved into the downtown.

But there’s a need for some kind of retail in the Albion flats area, Dueck said.

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Lots in west side of Albion flats are up for sale. (THE NEWS/files)

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