Five months after the Janda Group first unveiled its “Aldergrove Town Centre” for the old mall site downtown, the developers announced some major revisions to their plans last Thursday.
At a public meeting inside Aldergrove Community Secondary School’s gymnasium architects, consultants, project managers and others affiliated with the project took questions from 250 community members that showed up.
A number of Aldergrove residents expressed their concern about traffic in the already-swamped thoroughfare of Fraser Highway, adjacent to the 272 Street property.
Darryl Macdonald, a homeowner in the area since 1994, feels the new town centre will be a “trade-off,” something that will overwhelm the town’s streets but ultimately revitalize its downtown core.
“[Aldergrove] is way behind,” Macdonald said, noting its numerous vacant businesses.
“We needed this 25 years ago.”
The Township of Langley provided comment cards for residents to fill out and share their input, which a third-party, the Abbotsford-based Focus Architecture, will codify and bring to the developers to address.
The redevelopment plans were envisioned on large poster boards on either side of the gym, in three phases that move westward through the property.
Lead consultant on the project, architect Colin Hogan of Focus Architecture, said the most notable change to the proposal came to the scaling down of the controversial 28-storey tower (building E) the group had planned for phase 2.
“Maybe Aldergrove isn’t quite ready for that tower,” Hogan theorized, noting that updated plans see the same building scaled down to a maximum of 12 storeys.
Phase 1, which in spring included three buildings with commercial bottom floors, storefronts, and five levels of residential apartments above, now includes Janda’s plans to preserve and enhance the Bertrand Creek riparian area, to the north of the buildings.
“We’ve really enhanced the trail network and we’ve added more green roof components on four of the buildings,” explained Hogan.
The changes includes a pocket park to the east “which wasn’t going to happen with the [original] tower,” he said.
The project’s landscape architect Rebecca Krebs hopes the park will be available for the public to use as well.
“It would be a nice, green, open breath of fresh air in a lot of hardscape,” she said.
Krebs mentioned that the majority of the town centre’s amenities are inside the buildings or on its residential roof decks. This includes playgrounds, fire pits, and lounging areas.
A commercial space (Building C) was exchanged for a two-storey daycare building.
“We already have a tenant interested in the daycare,” Hogan said, noting the Janda Group planned the change with the proprietors in mind.
Dedicated bike lanes will also be implemented “all the way from Fraser Highway” and throughout the internal roadways of the centre, Hogan said.
Aldergrove resident Greg Koller was pleased to see the plans, but is concerned about a possible recession that might impact the centre’s ability to stay afloat.
“Though I’m glad to see the developer take the chance,” Koller emphasized.
The property at 3100 272 St. has been more of a sore spot for Aldergrove residents, the longer it remained boarded up and decrepit.
Two long-time residents and friends, both nearing 86 years of age, expressed their desire to see the project “with a shovel in the ground,” during their lifetimes.
“It’s felt like forever,” said one of the women, that the mall has sat there, “collecting dust” in the center of Aldergrove.
“I just hope I’m alive to see it,” she said of the transformation of the site into the Aldergrove Town Centre.
“They should hurry up,” corroborated resident John Roujema, to the Aldergrove Star.
Development plans were initially submitted to the Township on March 13, and fast-tracked after an approved motion filed by Couns. Eric Woodward and Bob Long was submitted the next day.
Though the Janda Group listed its target start date for construction as fall 2020, the plans still have to be considered for approval by the Township, which is tentatively scheduled to happen this winter.