Anticipation is growing downtown since the security fencing went up at Five Corners.
Builder Dave Algra of Algra Brothers said they are currently working through “the subdivision and legal” aspects of the ambitious redevelopment project, which will transform the city’s downtown.
Once they take possession of the 3.75-acre site covering most of a city block, the dismantling will begin after environmental testing.
“We’re hoping to award the dismantling contract next week,” Algra said.
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Some buildings will have to be demolished to make way for the pedestrian street, expected to be the walkable “heart” of the project. Other structures will be dismantled to ensure there are no hazardous materials remaining in them, such as asbestos.
All of the buildings are empty, with the exception of the Uptown Grill and Tokyo Sushi locations. Those businesses have entered into lease agreements to remain there, he said.
The construction schedule for the project is not set in stone, since there are so many variables at play, but the developer said the community will “probably” see the first tenants moving in by summer of 2019.
“Our process has taken somewhat longer than originally anticipated,” he said. “But everything is going extremely well.”
The downtown site, bounded Yale Road, Princess Avenue, Empress Lane and Young Road, will eventually see a combination of retail, commercial, residential and mixed-used development, in a multi-year, multi-phased development by Algra Bros.
Some exciting tenant news will likely be announced in early 2019, Algra added. That’s also when the marketing platform will be released.
“We’re 96 per cent through the legal aspects,” said Algra, “and the dismantling process will run concurrently.”
The Algra brothers, Dave, Peter and Phil, started out framing houses in the Fraser Valley before becoming general contractors, where they started with spec houses and developing empty land. They learned from experience building in Garrison Crossing about incorporating historical elements, retaining the trees on the site, and how much residents valued that. Then they moved onto Downtown Abbotsford, and successfully incorporated historic elements there, too.
“It adds a richness to the experience,” Algra stated when the downtown redevelopment was announced last summer.
This week he confirmed that are hoping to keep partial façades intact for most of the second-storey buildings, but all of the street level façades will have to be replaced.
Retrofitting of all the existing buildings will be the first phase of construction.
For building interiors that are found to be completely free of hazardous materials, and of significant historic value, they will make an effort to preserve them. One example is the antique tin ceilings of the former Imperial Theatre building they hope can be saved.
“There is a rich history in Chilliwack and we see the value it holds for the community,” Algra said. “When we are able to safely retain some historical elements, we will be making an effort to do so.”
This week the developer acknowledged the serious buzz that’s building.
“We’ve been having conversations with people about our project, and we’re happy to see how excited the community is and how much support there is,” Algra said. “It has been awesome. The excitement bodes well for our future tenants.”