Over the past little while, Fort Langley has seen renewed interest with redevelopment projects like Bedford Landing, Lee's Market, and the Coulter Berry Builder, along with a general sprucing up of the area, as people rediscover this walkable village. The latest redevelopment proposal is for a new two-storey retail/office building and expanded medical building along 96th Avenue near Glover Road.
|Site of proposed new retail/office building. Current building will be demolished. Source: Google Street View|
The redevelopment will see the site currently occupied by Tracycakes Bakery Cafe and a parking lot, replaced with a new two storey building that will have ground floor retail and second floor office space. The project will also include a bistro-style eatery.
|Current medical building to be expanding in the proposed redevelopment. Source: Google Street View|
The development will also expand the existing Fort Family Practice medial building.
|Proposed site plan. Click image to enlarge.|
|Rendering of proposed new office/retail building. Click image to enlarge.|
|Rendering of expanded medical building. Click image to enlarge.|
The project gets a lots of things right. The buildings will front 96th Avenue and prioritize pedestrian access. Parking is hidden in the back of the project. This will be a marked improvement to the parking lot that currently fronts the majority of this site.
One of the unfortunate aspects of this site is that 96th Avenue actually has the right-of-way of a four-lane boulevard, so while the proposed buildings will be right up to the property line, they will still be set back from the current 96th Avenue by about 8 meters (25 feet). This could limit the ability of the project to activate the street and create an “outdoor living room.” Generally with wide right-of-ways like 96th Avenue, you need to build taller building to give an area that same “outdoor living room” feeling that you could get with shorter buildings on smaller right-of-ways. There are other ways to try and accomplish the creation of a good public realm on a wide right-of-way. The architect proposes to move the sidewalk right up to the front of the buildings, construct an outside bistro patio that goes into the 96th Avenue right-of-way, and also plant several trees on the 96th Avenue right-of-way. The moved sidewalk, patio and the trees (once mature) will go a long way to help create that outdoor living space that 96th Avenue’s proposed future width hinders.
The only thing that makes me cringe a bit is the faux-western architecture which is required in Fort Langley. I have to laugh a little because eventually all the buildings in the Fort will be mimicking an architectural style that won’t exist in any of the actual remaining heritage building.