Hits and misses for Cloverdale renewal
The City and business community have been working diligently for over a decade to restore vibrancy and activity to historic Cloverdale, the original centre of Surrey. The City finished a new land use plan for the area in 2000, opened the new Surrey Museum in 2004, and re-designed the Main St along 176th in 2009. Two mid-rise condo buildings were completed in 2010 and things in general were looking up for the area.
Fast forward two years and progress is a mixed bag. After working for quite some time to secure and re-imagine the old Safeway site on the west side of the town centre, the proposal to become a mixed-use residential village has been put on hold indefinitely. The so-called West Village, led by the City’s Development Corporation, was met with muted market response, causing the company to take the project back to the drawing board.
Ironically, as Nathan Pachal has pointed out, just as the Safeway mall closed, a new, albeit nicer looking, strip mall is opening up across the street. Brick Yard Station is a 67,00 square foot shopping centre designed to “evoke Yaletown”. Tenants include Staples, Rexall Pharmacy, Original Joe’s, Starbucks, Vera’s Burgers, CIBC, and The Source. While it’s great to see such a variety of well known businesses coming to Cloverdale, it’s questionable what spinoffs another strip mall will have for the historic core. Neither Clover Square Mall, nor the original Safeway mall, helped the core – if anything, they pulled activity out of it.
Fortunately, some smaller scale developments are attempting to bring some new investment to the core by focusing on placemaking and design. Kerkhoff’s Latis condo mid-rise is currently on sale at 58 Ave and 177B. Two blocks south at 56A, a three-story condo development is currently finishing reviews at City Hall and should begin sales soon.
Across the street, a beautiful, heritage style three-storey building named Takhar Place will soon go up, featuring three, two-storey, three-bedroom units on top of three commercial units.
Meanwhile, on the Main Street, another small development firm is planning to build the two-storey Cloverdale Corporate Centre at the corner of 176 St and 56 Ave, the site of a former gas station. The brick building will include commercial units at ground level, and office space above.
A block north on 56A Ave, Frontline Real Estate Services has purchased the former Salvation Army building and has re-designed it to conform to a heritage facade. That renovation will be finished by this summer. Frontline’s main offices will be located in the building.
And, just on the other side of Hwy 10, the City is building a new rail car facility for the Fraser Valley Heritage Rail Society. That group is refurbishing two old Interurban cars for a potential heritage rail tourist service. They will also store the Clover Belle streetcar, a vehicle the BIA would like to see running up and down the Main Street in the future.
All in all, there’s undoubtedly a flurry of activity in the Cloverdale Town Centre, the likes of which advocates have been seeking for years. What remains to be seen is whether this round of investment will lead to a positive feedback loop and continue the revitalization, or whether missed opportunities like the cancellation of West Village or the construction of Brick Yard Station will erode the resurgent energy of the historic core.