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Plan reached to reconfigure Chilliwack’s Falls golf course

The Falls golf course and resort in Chilliwack has apparently chipped its way out of the rough after meeting with city officials Friday.

The Falls golf course and resort in Chilliwack has apparently chipped its way out of the rough after meeting with city officials Friday.

Details of a new development plan for the area were unavailable by press time Friday, but Michael Thornton, president of Silver Falls Development Inc., said “a very well thought out plan” had been reached.

Earlier, Thornton said he was told by city staff that “reconfiguration” of the golf course for residential development would not be allowed.

But he said some of the golf holes had to be moved for residential development to make the project “viable” for the Aquilini Investment Group.

“With permission to develop the holes, then we can replace them and still have a great golf course,” Thornton said.

“If they’re going to take away our ability to properly develop the site … probably nothing (of the Aquilini proposal) will survive,” he said.

But Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz said the city “never told Mr. Thornton that we would not at least consider his/Aquilini’s requests.”

However, she added that the city is also obliged to “balance the needs” of the Aquilini Group with those of Streetwise Capital Partners Inc.

“We will consider any proposal, but have to balance the needs of both development groups, and just as important the residents who have purchased homes at The Falls,” she said. “Staff is hoping to work with both groups on the development of a new plan.”

Streetwise managing director Kareem Sethi told The Progress his company does have development plans for the area and is not simply a “vulture fund” as described in court documents of bankruptcy proceedings against Blackburn Developments, developer of the hillside golf resort.

He said the “vulture” description is “inappropriate” because the company is involved in more than the re-structuring of financially-troubled businesses like Blackburn Development.

The Toronto-based company is also active in “plain vanilla” real estate transactions, he said, and in financing housing developments.

Sethi also acted as investment advisor in the $164-million sale of the Sutton Place Hotel in Vancouver last year, the largest hotel sale in Canada since 2007.

Sethi said he has no interest in blocking any other company’s development plans in the hillside area, which will be largely controlled by the market and by city planning policies.

“We just want to see the value preserved,” he said.

“This is a significant area, the eastern hillsides,” he said. “It remains to be seen how it will all sort out.”

rfreeman@theprogress.com

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