Although revitalization plans for downtown Chilliwack were announced last summer, locals didn’t start seeing changes until December when demolition crews arrived and began excavating sites for new construction.
“We’re right on track, though … and hope to have the project done in four years,” said Dave Algra, vice-president of Algra Bros, the development company in charge of the project.
The ambitious project, which comprises four phases, will see the transformation of 3.75 acres of prime downtown Chilliwack real estate from vacant shops and empty streets, to a lively, community-driven atmosphere.
“It’s not our first rodeo, (so) we have a pretty good idea on how it’s all going to work,” explained Algra.
The company, which is located in Abbotsford, has been building in Chilliwack for several years now, says they approach their developmental undertakings as opportunities to create “spaces where people can be successful.”
“Our goal is to create something that … people enjoy being in (and) spaces to allow people to enjoy (local) businesses. We’re making a place for people,” said Algra.
The first phase of the project is the re-purposing of all existing buildings in the development area, which will also include the first part of the planned pedestrian street. And while construction is a sequential process that begins with the issuing of proper permits, which Algra is still in the process of securing, they’re expecting businesses to begin opening in new spaces come this fall.
“We hope to get them in in July or August for (tenant improvement projects),” said Jon Kinneman, Algra’s art director.
Phase two will be the construction of an 63-unit apartment building, which will significantly increase the amount of residential spaces in Chilliwack’s downtown core. There will also be 18 residential units on top of the existing buildings.
“Working with old buildings provides unique challenges,” explained Algra, “but no more buildings will be coming down. We’re trying to maintain (many of) the structures (as we) dismantle parts (and) sculpt walls into new facades.”
Phase three of the project will be a parkade, explained Kinneman, and the final phase will be a multiple-storey building that’s a mix of commercial and residential units.
With their eyes on global trends, said Kinneman, Algra Bros hopes to bring a modern, yet classical feel into the city’s aging downtown infrastructure. Walkable cities with blocks of small commercial fronts mixed with residential spaces create livable communities where local businesses thrive, which is Algra’s hope for Chilliwack’s future.
For more information on Chilliwack’s downtown redevelopment, please visit the Algra Bros project website at Chilliwackisback.com, which launches on Monday, Jan. 28.