Apartments at Abbotsford News site would bring Sumas Way improvements

Developer would have to widen short stretch of Highway 11 and improve SFW on- and off-ramps

In order to proceed, a large proposed development for the current home of the Abbotsford News must be accompanied by significant roadwork and the widening of a short stretch of Sumas Way.

Elevate Development wants to construct a pair of six-storey apartment buildings with 282 units between them on the large site at the southern end of Gladys Avenue, adjacent to the intersection of Sumas Way and South Fraser Way. The prominent site is the longtime home of The News, which still occupies the building. The property was sold several years ago, and The News plans to move to a location nearby if and when construction begins.

The proposal will head to a public hearing later this month after council approved the first two readings for the rezoning of the prominent location on Monday.

If the project is approved and goes ahead, the developer will be required to create a third southbound lane on Sumas Way from South Fraser Way to Marshall Road. New on- and off-ramps from South Fraser Way will also be constructed, as will several pedestrian paths in the area. The developer would also create a path along the west side of the Sumas Way bypass south of Fraser Street.

Development services director Darren Braun said the site is “challenging and complicated,” given the tangle of busy roads nearby. The resulting report came in at more than 500 pages, which Mayor Henry Braun said was the largest he has seen.

Coun. Bruce Banman praised the outcome, saying the changes should alleviate some of the gridlock at the busy Sumas Way and South Fraser Way intersection while making the area more walkable and bikeable.

Because of all the road and trailwork, staff have recommended the city not collect money for transportation and park benefits that it usually demands from developers.

“Staff believes this is a reasonable approach for Community Benefit Contributions for this project based on the site specific works and broader community benefits that are anticipated to occur with completing the required offsite improvements, ” they wrote in a report to council.

A little more than half of the proposed apartments would be two-bedroom units. Of the remainder, 18 would be bachelor units, 75 would have one bedroom, and 36 would be three-bedroom units – which are relatively rare in Abbotsford.

The site’s rear half, through which a stream runs, will remain undeveloped. On the southern portion slated for development, 26 of 37 trees will be removed. Eleven trees will be retained, in part because the city will allow for a reduction in the number of required visitor parking stalls.

RELATED: Two big apartment buildings proposed in Abbotsford

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