The downtown development recently rebranded as “District 1881” has a raft of new businesses almost ready to open.
“Every day we get a little bit closer,” said Dave Algra of Algra Bros. Development.
They chose “District 1881” to brand the project, as a nod to the first major development established in Centreville, which would later be known as City of Chilliwack.
The whole site, covering almost an entire city block east of Five Corners, is a hive of activity right now with commercial tenants and contractors in a flurry to finish. The construction fencing has recently come down so things are getting serious.
Eight new businesses, including restaurants, breweries, services and retail shops, have been preparing to open in the next three weeks.
“It’s nice to see all their hard work paying off,” Algra said.
Some of the design details and building materials are visually striking, and nailing the details has been crucial with this development from the beginning.
“The amount of detail we were able to get into the project was considerable,” Algra continued. “It starts from working closely with the City (of Chilliwack) to get all the approvals, and goes all the way down to getting talented trades people to come work with us and pull off that level of detail. It’s pretty exciting to be part of that process.”
He figures folks will be really surprised when they finally get to explore inside the restaurants, shops, offices, and historic apartments they’ve built.
“All of the tenants have their own design ideas and styles. From the outside everything works together with a similar look and feel. But when you go inside these spaces you’ll see how different and unique they all are.”
Some might also be surprised to learn just how local everything is.
“So all of our businesses are independent business owners. They are all local people from the Fraser Valley, whereas typically in new developments it’s always chains or franchises.”
They’ve been bringing it all together for more than a year and a half. More and more it resembles the project vision that was initially mapped out in 2018, with a 3D flyover rendering of what the project would look like.
“Every day that dream comes a bit closer to reality.”
The 3.75-acre redevelopment site will see a combination of retail, commercial, residential and mixed-used development, in a multi-year, multi-phased development.
So how important was reclaiming or repurposing downtown materials from the old buildings, like the tin ceiling tiles from the historic Imperial Theatre or making a point of keeping the façades?
“I think a big proportion of Chilliwack residents wanted to see the historic elements of the downtown be preserved, and for good reason,” Algra replied.
“They had some pretty unique buildings here and a lot of unique materials.
“To us repurposing was very important because that was one of the promises we made to the city when we responded to the initial RFP. We were going to do what we could to preserve the historic, significant pieces of this block.
“That’s what we tried to do.”
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