A massive proposed residential development near Abbotsford’s historic downtown took an important step forward Monday as council enthusiastically sent plans for the project to an upcoming public hearing.
If approved, the project would see three apartment buildings, hundreds of townhouses, and a handful of shops fill the 19 acres of land that was previously home to the Clayburn Brick Plant.
The footprint of the 599-unit project is nearly as large as the historic downtown itself, and councillors said the addition of hundreds of new residents to the downtown area will give a boost to the already bustling commercial area.
“I am just anticipating the infusion of economic and social activity that is going to take place in the Historic Downtown once this all comes to fruition and is all built out,” Coun. Dave Loewen said.
Coun. Bruce Banman said the project will help make the area “very walkable” and said he “could not be more thrilled that it’s starting to happen.”
Mayor Henry Braun was also pleased by the plans for the area.
“When we adopted our new Official Community Plan, this is exactly the kind of development we envisioned.”
The project must still go through a public hearing, and council must give a final signoff to rezoning of the properties in question.
But once that happens, the city anticipates construction beginning on the northernmost extent of Montrose Avenue this fall.
The new development would see Montrose extended to the northwest, where it would eventually connect with McCallum Road.
That work will require the relocation of the Abbotsford Farm and Country Market. The city plans to move the market to Jubilee Park this summer, according to the staff report.
Plans for the project show three apartment buildings on the southern half of the property, along with hundreds of townhomes clustered in various configurations on either side of an extended Montrose Avenue.
Residents of the new development would have access to a fitness room, pool and spa, lounge and barbecue areas, and half-court basketball space.
A public path would also be built next to the railway on the eastern side of the property
The developer will have to undertake an array of infrastructure work.
A traffic signal will be added at the intersection of Maclure and McCallum roads, and Pine Street will also have to be rebuilt.
The staff report also revealed that 229 trees were axed in 2016 on the property “without the necessary tree cutting permits” and before the current owners purchased the site.
The developers will be required to plant 583 new trees, or pay for trees to be planted elsewhere.
The report says 153 new trees will be planted in the first two phases of the project.
The Abbotsford Downtown Business Association has sent the city a letter indicating its support for the project, declaring that it will “provide economic support to our businesses and services and positively impact the vitality of the downtown.”
Construction would start on the southern edge of the property, with the construction of dozens of townhouses and the development’s private amenity building.
Council was told that construction vehicles will access the site from the north, off of McCallum Road.