Irwin Block buildings to remain standing until end of March

Most won't notice from the outside. The deconstruction starts with removal of certain materials in the older buildings.

Historic buildings in the Irwin Block will remain standing a little while longer in downtown Chilliwack.

The heavy structural demolition at Five Corners is only slated to start on March 13.

City of Chilliwack officials released a work schedule this week, which makes it clear the demolition should be complete by March 28.

MWL Demolition got the deconstruction work underway this week starting with the removal of garbage and hazardous materials from the three three buildings located at 9282 Young Road, 46110 and 46116 Yale Road.

The cleanup and prep work will take about 12 days, and the structural demolition will be underway March 13-19.

The properties were expropriated and purchased by the city at fair market value, after independent appraisal. The purchase prices were $600,000 for the Young Road property, $240,000 for 46110 Yale, and $245,000 for 46116 Yale.

City officials said they expect to see some offsetting increase in the value of the land after redevelopment.  There’s also an expectation that they’ll collect significantly increased property taxes on the redeveloped site, and that the pressing and longstanding social issues downtown will be improved.

The demolition itself will cost $141,000, as contrasted with the estimated cost of major repairs which was for $800,000 to bring the buildings up to code.

The land assembly efforts were among recommendations from a Downtown Core Task Force that looked at ways to accelerate revitalization of the area ahead of the 20 to 30-year estimate. A similar approach was employed in the late 1990s when properties were assembled to make way for the new courthouse downtown.

The “hazardous” items to be removed from the site during the haz-mat abatement include “standard” materials found in buildings of that age that sometimes contain asbestos, according to city staff, like plaster, drywall filler and pipe insulation.