New commercial complex planned for Willoughby

A major new commercial development has been proposed for the Willoughby neighbourhood, as the northern Yorkson area continues its rapid growth.

If the project passes through a public hearing and gets final approvals from the Langley Township council, it would add 41,700 square feet of commercial space in the Willoughby Town Centre.

“It’s in the village core, and it provides that really critical mass,” Qualico Commercial senior project manager John Anders said.

The planned two-level project would be located on the inner side of the Willoughby Town Centre Drive and 206A Street, opposite the existing shops and grocery stores.

A breezeway would allow pedestrians to pass through the middle of the block of shops, where a stairway and elevator would allow access to the second storey.

Parking would be at the back and will include a raised parking deck for the second floor. Plans for the upper level could include a daycare, fitness centre, and offices. 

Those plans are not just ideas, said Tami Huitema, Qualico’s development coordinator. There has been interest from a fitness firm and a daycare about setting up there once the project is finished.

The demographics of the area, with lots of new families moving in to houses and townhouses, mean there will be a need for more daycare in Willoughby in the near future.

The development proposed is different from what was planned in previous versions of the site design.

Previously, larger areas of mixed residential-commercial buildings were suggested for that particular block, with approximately 70 housing units included.

Now Qualico wants to put a concentrated series of storefronts in the middle of the commercial area, said Anders. That will help the existing businesses, which range from veterinarian and optometrist offices to a grocery store and a coffee shop, Anders said.

“It really defines a town center,” Anders said.

It’s a lot of commercial space, but Willoughby is growing rapidly, and is now the Township’s largest neighbourhood at more than 25,000 residents.

Huitema, who lives in the area, is always being asked by friends and neighbours about what’s going to be built there, she said.

Although there won’t be residential in this phase, the units planned for this area will be added to future developments to the north and west of this area. =

Other mixed commercial-residential buildings are still planned for other phases of the project.

If the project is approved, the building permits could be issued by the spring or summer of 2016, and construction would be finished about 10-12 months later.

At Monday night’s council meeting, councillors had nothing negative to say about the plans and first and second reading passed unanimously. The public will get an opportunity to comment at an upcoming public hearing.

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