A proposed 879-unit development on South Fraser Way goes to council for its input Monday. A proposed 879-unit development on South Fraser Way goes to council for its input Monday.

Huge 879-unit central Abbotsford seniors development to go to public hearing

First stage would see building of 300 apartments for seniors, to be managed by Menno Place operators

A massive proposed development set for the city’s core will go to a public hearing after Abbotsford council signaled its enthusiasm for the project Monday.

Emco Developments hopes to build nearly 900 apartment units on three adjacent sites on the north side of South Fraser Way, just northeast of Sevenoaks Shopping Centre.

Staff say the development would be a key component to advance their vision for a denser, more-walkable city centre.

The first phase would see a pair of 18-storey towers built to house 300 seniors. Half of those units would be assisted living, the remainder would be classified as “independent” living. All would be managed by the Mennonite Benevolent Society – which operates Menno Place.

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The other two sites on the five-acre site would be developed in subsequent phases. The second site could see a buildings as high as 30 storeys, with a mix of commerical, office and residential space in it and two smaller buildings. The third site would see a pair of buildings, one up to 14 storeys tall.

Council got their first chance for input Monday and voted to send the project to a public hearing.

Mayor Henry Braun and several councillors suggested the development would be a catalyst for future growth in the area.

Staff has recommended council give the plans first reading. If they do so, the proposal will go to a public hearing at another date.

“The proposed development is of significant scale and is anticipated to help anchor and support the creation of an energetic City Centre with the highest concentration of residents, employees, and visitors in the only neighborhood where high rise development is permitted,” staff write in a report to council. “The proposal, if approved, will act as the eastern gateway along the South Fraser Way Signature Corridor and is anticipated to offer a variety of public spaces, vibrant public life and animation.”

To get the city’s sign-off on the construction of such a dense development, the apartments on two of the three sites will be limited to rental-only. That would boost Abbotsford’s meagre supply of rental housing by about 519 units, and bar them from becoming strata units.

The developer will have also have to build two new plazas accessible to the general public. One would connect South Fraser Way to Yukon Crescent, the other would be located at the intersection of South Fraser Way and Fairlane Street. A full traffic signal would also be installed at that junction. The city also expects to collect around $640,000 in developer contributions to go toward transit and bicycle infrastructure, along with park enhancements.

The development is slated for a chunk of land currently divided into 16 single-family lots and two commercial properties. The site will be restructured, and roads in the area will be shifted, with Yukon Crescent moved 14 metres to the east. The developer owns all the land in the area.

Fourteen homes currently sit on the site, many of which are still occupied by residents. The developer must give four months notice to residents of their pending eviction. Under provincial rules, residents must also be given the equivalent of at least one months free rent. The developer says they’ll also provide money twice the amount of tenants’ rent to help with relocation costs. Re/Max, which has been contracted by the developer to handle the eviction process, says the owner knows that relocating may be difficult for some tenants. The letter says many tenatns are paying below-market rates and may have trouble finding a new home.

Eleven of the homes will be demolished, while three will be moved off-site. Re/Max also said it would help tenants to relocate to other homes in its “portfolio.”

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The first stage of development would see the construction of a pair of 14-storey towers.

Nearly 900 units of housing are proposed to be built in three phases on the north side of South Fraser Way.

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