Development begins on former UFV property

Developer of 275-unit proposal in Chilliwack to host public information meeting April 14

Midtown would include hundreds of new housing options in a centrally located area of Chilliwack

Midtown would include hundreds of new housing options in a centrally located area of Chilliwack

The old UFV north campus could soon be known simply as Midtown.

The Van Maren Group has released a conceptual drawing of their plans for the site at Airport and Yale Road. It’s a lofty redesign that would inject hundreds of new housing options on the north side of Chilliwack, while leaving much of the UFV site intact.

The plan calls for an 81-unit apartment at the southern-most tip of the site, where an administration building is currently being readied for demolition.

The theatre will remain on-site for the time being, and the most visible building at the forefront of the school could become a new site for Cascade Christian School. That private school announced their own goal to purchase the building earlier this year, to expand the school beyond their current location at the Salvation Army Church.

Eric Van Maren said Thursday that the company is excited to be behind this massive redesign project.

“It’s been a long time since Chilliwack had a new, large-scale development on the Chilliwack side of the freeway,” he said. “And this really is one of the last large non-ALR sites in the Chilliwack area.”

He said they are still waiting for rezoning to move ahead with their plan, and there will be a public hearing on April 19 at city hall. Van Maren will also be holding a public information meeting at the UFV Theatre on the evening of April 14.

If the zoning goes ahead, the first job will be to build roads. Van Maren said that work could start in the summer.

Airport Road would extend into the new subdivison, leading to a new road that cuts through and carries out to Meadowbrook Drive. That road would mostly be lined with single family lots, while smaller roads leading off from it would have regular and back-to-back townhouses

In total, the conceptual plan calls for the apartment building, 124 regular townhouse units, 28 back-to-back townhouses, and about 42 small lot single family homes. It backs onto the Chilliwack River and Meadowbrook Drive.

Construction of the townhouses would start first, and that could happen as soon as this fall.

The land

In addition to the two large buildings remaining, buildings E and G also remain on site. The parking lots would remain mostly the same, with a new parking entrance north of the current entrance.

While the entire site is 12 acres, only the portion that’s been subdivided for the residential developments will be coming forward to council in April. The rest of the land will be considered separately, Van Maren said.

UFV will continue to own the theatre building, and will be leasing it out in the same manner they do now.

Van Maren has been meeting with Chilliwack city staff for the past several months, continuing to redesign the neighbourhood as advised.

“We’ve gone through an extensive consultation with the staff, there have been four or five iterations, with revisions from the feedback,” he said. “What we actually will present to council, is the result of four months of collaborative efforts.”

This plan suggests that, eventually, Airport Road could connect to Eagle Landing.

“Yes,” Van Maren says. “But that’s the long term plan.”

That growth is constricted by ALR land that runs between the Chilliwack River behind the development and Eagle Landing.

The Van Maren Group of Companies has been behind several large projects in Chilliwack to date, including the Chilliwack Court House, the Five Corners Clock Tower and Office Building, the Ministry of Forests office on Airport, Halcyon Meadows on Thomas Road, and Phase Two of Clover Creek on Chilliwack River Road.

Cascade’s plan

Building C, formerly known as the UFV Health Sciences building, is only 23 years old, nearly 30,000 sq feet, and could be home to Cascade with room to grow.

The school’s board announced their plan to purchase the building back in February, kicking off a fundraising drive. They have the option of buying the land for “bare land pricing” at $2.5 million.

“This is an opportunity that is of such amazing potential that we’ve felt led to pursue it, even though the immediate idea of ownership has not seemed possible or feasible until this point,” the board said at the time.

They are hoping to move their students there by September. But the first benchmark will be the need to raise $100,000 by May 1 for their down payment and moving costs.

They are currently making do in the back of the Salvation Army Church on Brooks Ave., but are steadily growing in numbers.