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Surrey developer staging “pep rally” Monday, wanting to “start a movement” in Whalley

“A big townhall meeting” at the Whalley Legion, at 7 p.m. May 29.

A major land developer in Surrey’s city centre who dreams of turning his proposed Flamingo Block project into a hub for local arts and culture is staging a “pep rally” for Whalley residents on Monday night at the legion hall.

“We’re hoping to start a movement,” Charan Sethi, of the Tien Sher Group, told the Now-Leader.

“We’re actually trying to brand the Whalley area, the Whalley district, and bring it up a notch. I think we’ve done a pretty decent job over the last so many years and I think we need to now get the support of all the residents and business owners in the area to feel good about themselves and create some business activity.”

Sethi has been building condominium projects in Whalley since 2005, among them his three Quattro developments, Balance and Venue. The latter is sold out and currently under construction.

Sethi said his group sent out 1,300 flyers on three occasions to residents and businesses in the city core, encouraging them to attend “a big townhall meeting” at the Whalley Legion, at 7 p.m. May 29.

“We hope to get as many people out there as possible. We want the Whalley people to be there, we want them to get excited. We want them to feel good about themselves, and tell us what they need in the arts and culture area as well,” he said.

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For nearly two years now Sethi’s been trying to rezone the Flamingo Block. Over the next decade or so he aims to build three residential towers along with some smaller buildings and some inviting park space on 4.3 acres in the 10700-block of King George Boulevard. The block will be divided into four mini-blocks, he said.

“I’ve been trying to develop the Whalley area, and trying to get Whalley on the map in a good way, not a bad way,” Sethi said. As for the Flamingo Block project, he said, “It’s been a very, very slow process at the City and so it finally started to take some shape and I’ve been promised by October of this year that we should have the rezoning done, subject to a bunch of stuff.

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“We’re launching the arts and culture into our program. What we’ve done is partner up with some of the people in the arts and culture area and say OK, you know what, we’re going to give you space in our building. You’re going to be able to have a base where you can start arts and culture. We need something like that.”

He said he’s “really hoping to hear some positive vibes from the people” at Monday night’s meeting, which he said is being organized with help from people in the arts community.

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“I’m hoping to get support for the arts and culture society so they can move on and go to the City and say we need to move on this, and help us with this one. The City has also mentioned many times that they need arts and culture but they haven’t been able to put a plan together so we thought you know what, we’ll put a plan together.”

Sethi said the Whalley community “has been bashed” around, “like a small little kid in a classroom all the time so I thought, you know what, let’s get the people in Whalley have a say in what they think they are, and get them going.”

About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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