The first step towards the construction of a 650-home development in Abbotsford’s historic downtown core took place Tuesday morning (Oct. 5).
A groundbreaking ceremony was held at the site of the Rail District, described as a “master planned” community with hundreds of townhomes and condos, as well as 80,000 square feet of retail and office space.
The project by developer Infinity Properties is located on the 19-acre site of the former Clayburn Brick Plant property east of McCallum Road and north of George Ferguson Way and Pine Street.
The multi-year plan entails building five new neighbourhoods – Railside, Hillside, Brickyard, Ridgeline and The Rail Plaza.
The new Rail Trail for walking and biking will follow the Canadian Pacific Railway.
Speaking at the groundbreaking event, Infinity Properties owner Tim Bontkes said the project began in 2016 with Abbotsford council’s vision to “create some new neighbourhoods.”
He said the project initially consisted of seven phases – four of townhouses and three of apartments.
The first phase consists of 91 two- and three-bedroom townhouse units. Bontkes said the next three phases – one townhouse site and three condo buildings – are awaiting development permits.
Bontkes said Infinity has since purchased land on the other side of Pine Street for phases eight and nine.
He said the entire development is expected to take 10 to 12 years to complete.
Bontkes praised city council/staff and the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association for their vision for the historic downtown.
“It’s not easy nowadays to get through the different levels of bureaucracy and requirements, but I think we’ve got a beautiful project here,” he said.
Mayor Henry Braun referenced the historical significance of the property as a brick-manufacturing plant and the establishment of Clayburn Village to house its employees.
In addition to housing, the Clayburn Company also built stores, a bank, a school and a church.
“More than just their businesses, they wanted to build a community. We are pleased to see that Infinity Properties is taking the same approach with the development of the Rail District with the goal of creating a close-knit network of businesses, restaurants and cultural experiences, along with beautiful urban townhouse and condominiums which will allow folks to live in the heart of their community,” Braun said.
The Rail District development was approved by council in July 2019.