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Developer sought for Downtown Chilliwack redevelopment

Request for Proposals went out Thursday seeking a highly skilled development team to take it on

It’s a consolidated block of 21 building lots in downtown Chilliwack — and it’s all up for purchase and redevelopment.

As joint land owners, City of Chilliwack and Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation issued a Request for Proposals on Thursday, seeking a development team to take on the role as project proponents.

The site is on 3.75-acres, bordered by Young, Yale, Princess Lane and Empress Lane in the heart of downtown Chilliwack.

“We expect continued growth over the next 25 years, reaching a population of over 132,000,” said Mayor Sharon Gaetz in a joint city/CEPCO release. “Our growing population, the expensive nearby housing markets, and an increasing industrial community make this a pertinent time to invest in the hub and heart of our community – the downtown core.”

The consolidated approach reinforces a focus on Chilliwack’s downtown as the hub, and it started in 2011 with city expropriation and demolition of the Empress, The Paramount and Irwin Block.

READ MORE: Land assembly to attract redevelopment

The development site location starts at the Five Corners green space going east, and excludes some commercial/residential buildings, and a single family home on the eastern edge.

“This is a unique opportunity for a developer to create a vibrant and comprehensive neighbourhood that supports and enhances the revitalization of downtown Chilliwack,” said CEPCO president Brian Coombes.

This most recent city-back development opportunity is for mixed development, with the lots designated as “Urban Quarter” in the 2040 Official Community Plan, noted for a ‘main street’ building design with development framing the street. The goal is to achieve: “a high quality of urban design, meet sustainability standards, support neighbourhood needs, and assist in the revitalization of the downtown core,” according to the RFP document.

Officials don’t technically have to accept any of the RFP submissions from development teams, Coombes noted, as they built the “right not to accept proposals” into the conditions.

“It’s about looking looking to developers to come up with their best vision as opposed to the best price,” Coombes said.

A busload of developers and others involved in the building profession with the Urban Development Institute were given a guided tour of Chilliwack on Thursday, hosted by city and CEPCO. They were given the particulars of the just-released RFP, the community profile and more.

The RFP closes on January 17, 2018, and the selected proponent will be announced in February 2018.

“It’s a good way to test the market, which has changed a lot in last two years,” Coombes said about the RFP process.

They want a partner they can work closely with, bringing their professionalism to bear on creating a neighbourhood that will actively and effectively attract new residents.

“The right developer will create an iconic legacy-style neighbourhood that recaptures the past while creating a bold new vision for the future,” according to the joint city/CEPCO release.

“It’s a very very important project, so doing it together just made sense,” Coombes said.

CEPCO is the taking the lead in the RFP process, so interested parties can review the RFP documents for “Purchase and Development of Downtown Chilliwack Properties” at their offices, #201, 46093 Yale Road Chilliwack, BC V2P 2L8, Tel: 604-792-7839.

The long-awaited revitalization of the downtown was also supposed to be kickstarted by the city-rezoned Old Safeway site, now purchased and being planned by a Surrey development group.

READ MORE: Old Safeway site



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Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering the arts, city hall, as well as Indigenous, and climate change stories.
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