Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Bring the Village back to Fort Langley

I came across the website of a proposed project called the Coulter Berry Building in Fort Langley. The project is located on the site of the old IGA that burned down and is currently a temporary parking lot at the corner of Glover Road and Mavis Avenue. For some history about the site and the replaced IGA store, please check out my earlier post. But, from what I’ve seen of the Coulter Berry Building proposal, I have to say that I’m impressed.

The original plan was to build some shops/offices on the site of the old IGA which was OK, but it wasn’t anything special. The old plan also included a rather large surface parking lot. I was told that the original plan was going to be developed by the Lee family who own the IGA, but has since been purchased by Fort Langley resident Eric Woodward. The new plans for this important corner truly bring the "village" back to the village of Fort Langley.

The new building, which is mixed-use, includes shops on the ground level, office space on the second level, and 10 new residential units. The building will even include a two level restaurant with a rooftop patio. What’s truly impressive about this project is that it includes underground parking an only has 9 surface parking spaces. That’s a huge expense for a three-story building and something that most developers wouldn’t do. To top that off the project also includes 20 bike parking spaces (which puts TransLink's new Park and Ride to shame) and a public washroom. The design of the building is impressive too.

Coulter Berry Building - View from Mavis Ave and Lane

Coulter Berry Building - View from Glover Road

Coulter Berry Building 1st Floor Site Plan

Besides doing everything right by providing a truly mixed-use and pedestrian friendly building, the project also embraces and gives a sense of place to the back alley with retail units that front it. I think it will create a kind of cool space that we don’t have a lot of in Langley. On the topic of sense-of-place, with both shops, offices, and a restaurant, the building will have pedestrian traffic from morning until night which will make Fort Langley feel that much more alive, especially outside of “tourist” season. The building's fa├žade also pays homage to Fort Langley history and will fit right in with the rest of the community. The nice finishing touch to this project is the restaurant patio that also provides a nice step down in height to blend in with the existing buildings on Glover.

It’s not too often that you see a project this impressive in Langley and most of the plans I’ve seen in the last little while for other projects disappoint. The project will be presented to Council in the fall and I can only hope that they allow it to proceed. I’ve heard that there are some in the community that are opposed for some reason, but I hope Township Council will see past the opposition and see how impressive this project is and approve it. We certainly need more Coulter Berry-type buildings in Langley and less of the uninspiring, pedestrian-unfriendly, auto-oriented commercial development that I see so often approved in the Township.

For more information on the project, check out its website.


Anonymous said...

Looks great, Fort Langley's walkability gives a community feel and makes you want to stay and explore the place unlike other suburban cities which instead offer an easy route to "bypass".

Richard Edge said...

We were walking around Fort Langley on the Labour Day weekend and saw the display boards they had recently set up describing the project. I agree it is an impressive building and reinforces not only the character of the village, but the "local" business flavour as well. Their statement of "no big chains" caught my attention as it would be a shame if the type of business were otherwise.

Cathy said...

Looks good!! I miss living in Fort Langley, it was a great place to be able to just go and walk every evening with my kids to go for a coffee with my best friend. Hope this plan is approved and adds to the community feel of Fort Langley!

Anonymous said...

Looks like a great addition to down town Fort Langley .. what im really interested in .. is what they will find when they dig down to build an underground parking lot, Fort Langley has a lot of history , and being in such close proximity to the Fort .. will be interesting to see, hope they keep an eye out when they dig.

Leejane said...

Nice to see that your pictures are actually to scale, showing the actual size and impact of the building. The pictures used by the opposition have been altered removing any people or cars and making the building look much bigger than it actually is.