From the arrival of desirable new businesses to the launch of heritage rail operations, the past year has been an eventful one, according to the executive director of the Cloverdale Business Improvement Association – and there’s a definite buzz of economic optimism in the historic town centre.
Members gathered for their Annual General Meeting July 11 at the Cloverdale Legion, where Paul Orazietti presented an overview of various projects and initiatives.
Over the past year, Cloverdale has seen a number of businesses opening up, along with existing businesses that have undertaken renovations and other improvements.
“Cloverdale has really grown and changed,” he said, pointing to new additions to 176 Street such as Timeless Treasures, a new business specializing in antiques and collectibles that has relocated from Fort Langley to downtown Cloverdale.
Orazietti also highlighted the Henry Public House, a boutique pub opened by the Joseph Richard Group in the Clover Inn, replacing the former Legacy Show Lounge, a strip club was shut down in response to pressure from the local business community, law enforcement and the City of Surrey.
“They’ve been very responsible in terms of creating an upscale bar that again, really ads some cachet to the downtown.”
Orazietti said the owner of The Vault Restaurant is working on opening up a second establishment on 176 Street, inside the former Golphis location.
He also revealed that Chef Matthew Stowe, 2013 winner of the reality TV show, Top Chef Canada and local resident, is looking to open a restaurant in the area.
“Again, these are small, exciting things that are starting to shift what this community is about, and it’s been a long time coming,” Orazietti told members.
The Cloverdale BIA represents 280 businesses in the historic downtown, acting as a liaison between business interests and the city, and working to recruit and retain businesses, along with other initiatives, from hanging baskets and graffiti removal to partnering with the Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce and others to organize events like the upcoming Cloverdale Blueberry Festival (Aug. 10), the Halloween Costume Parade, and Surrey’s Santa Parade of Lights.
Features like the hanging baskets [pictured at right, Jennifer Lang photo], the addition of new businesses, and renovations like the Frontline Real Estate building at 56A and 176 Street, and the Lang Building have helped make the downtown seem more desirable to new businesses and shoppers.
“The area is transforming,” Orazietti told the Reporter earlier this week.
“There’s a consistent flow of people who are buying into the vision,” he added. “There’s that sense of buzz. It’s critical mass – you become a desirable area.”
The past year also saw the opening of Brick Yard Station, the new commercial plaza at the long-vacant corner of Highway 10 and the Cloverdale bypass.
Priorities for 2013/14 include stepping up pressure on the city and the developer in hopes of speeding up the Cloverdale West Village proposal and working on gateway signage welcoming visitors to the historic town centre.
Orazietti said the pie-shaped vacant lot at 58 Avenue and the Cloverdale Bypass is the subject of a development proposal that could see the addition of landmark gateway signage if the project – in this case, an unnamed bank – goes ahead.
“These particular landmarks are really important for people to get a sense of arrival,” Orazietti said.
“We have such travel flowing through the area, they want to get a sense that they’ve come to a community. This is the front door.”
The BIA is putting money aside for another gateway feature at the south end of 176 Street near Highway 10 that would help identify the historic part of downtown Cloverdale.
The Cloverdale BIA also works with other groups, including the Surrey Heritage Society, which recently opened up the B.C. Vintage Truck Museum on the southwest corner of the Cloverdale Fairgrounds.
Continuing to market the area as a heritage tourism destination is another goal for 2013.
The launch of weekend passenger runs by the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society out of Cloverdale Station has been another highlight of the past year, he said.
“There’s a really large dedicated group of volunteers that make this railway happen, very much like the BIA, and again, a lot of what you see going on here is generous time donation by people who care about their community.”