Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fort Langley: Reid Block

At the corner of Mavis Street and Church Street in Fort Langley, a new 2-storey building is being proposed called the Reid Block. The current 1923 building on the site will be removed/demolished to make way for this new building. While the current building isn’t anything to write home about, as part of the proposed redevelopment, the Township has requested the incorporation of salvage quality materials from the current building into the proposed new building, as well as historical interpretation signage.

Renders of proposed Reid Block building. Click image to enlarge.

The proposed 2-storey building will have 3,236 square feet of ground floor commercial space and 4 apartments on the second floor. The project’s proponent is requesting a variance to the 9 meter height limit in Fort Langley to 9.94 meters. This will allow for higher ceilings on the ground floor. Township staff seem to be supportive of this variance. Between this project and the Coulter Berry project (which also received a variance in height), I have to wonder if the current 9 meter height limit is too low for the village core of Fort Langley.

Site plan for Reid Block building. Click image to enlarge.

The Reid Building's proponent is also requesting a variance to allow the building to cover 64.4% of the site instead of 60% which is the maximum permitted under the current zoning. This variance also seems to have the support of Township staff.

While the building’s architecture is decent enough, I wonder about the overall heritage guidelines in Fort Langley. When I look at many of the older commercial building in Fort Langley, I seem mostly typical mid-twentieth century boxes. While some of them are gussied up with turn-of-the-twentieth-century fa├žades, they are being architectural frauds. Even the newer buildings in Fort Langley are designed to have that turn-of-the-century feel. While I feel that many of the new and proposed buildings look good, I have to wonder what heritage is truly being protected by the Fort Langley design guidelines.

The one thing that I do have a minor concern with is the proposed Reid Block’s parking lot. It extents to Mavis Street which will interrupt the street-front and pedestrian realm, one of the most important elements that gives Fort Langley that special village feeling. Interestingly enough, I believe that the height limits imposed in the commercial core of Fort Langley actually hold back the potential of Fort Langley. The public realm will be dotted with surface parking lots under the current guidelines, and from what I understand, it doesn’t make financial sense to build two-storey buildings with underground parking.

Anyway, you can find more information about the proposed building by look at the April 22nd Township of Langley Evening Council Agenda Package starting at page 103.

Update: The proposed building is actually 3-storeys as it will have third floor patios, and what appears to be a small section that is three-storey fronting Mavis Street.


Brad Richert said...

The Reid Block building is no longer a 2-storey proposal as previously presented. It is now a 3-storey building as presented at the most recent council meeting.

Catherine Doyle said...

Actually Brad, the building was presented to the FLCA as a two story and we directors asked about what looked like a third story to us and we were told it was simply rooftop access however, the plans were already including the living space that it does now at completion. Your fellow founding directors of Live Langley didn't tell you before July 2013 that this was the case? Didn't you wonder why they have singled out the Coulter Berry project when all of the current projects required variances and received them not to mention the Reid Block received variances identical to the ones that Coulter Berry received? Special treatment I would say!