‘Yes’ to a new Cloverdale Legion

The new legion would be on the ground floor of the five-storey condo/commercial complex pictured at bottom left. Branch 6 would face an extended 57A Ave. linking the redevelopment with downtown Cloverdale.

In a nearly unanimous vote, Cloverdale Legion members have endorsed a relocation proposal that’s part of the City of Surrey’s plans to redevelop the old Cloverdale Mall and revitalize the historic downtown.

After months of negotiations, Branch 6 membership approved the latest proposal by TL Housing Solutions and the Surrey City Development Corp. in a vote of 121 to 10, at a special meeting held Nov. 27.

The 60-year-old Cloverdale Legion would remain in its current facility until the new one is complete, by spring or summer 2013.

The results of last weekend’s vote are a near-reversal from the mood in April, when Legion members “tarred and feathered” presenters giving a project update, according to Branch 6 president Pat Ostrom.

Last weekend’s vote required approval by two-thirds of the membership in order to pass.

“Most people were pretty happy,” Ostrom said, pointing to the strong majority in favour.

The legion would move into a new, 10,000-square-foot canteen built at street level of a five-storey complex with residential condominiums and retail space.

The move wouldn’t be far – just west of the current location at 17567 57 Avenue – in the southwest corner of the mall’s parking lot.

Parking had been a major hurdle for the legion project. Members had been critical of how many parking spaces were initially allotted to their membership.

Under the latest proposal, the Cloverdale Legion will have 117 parking spaces out of 221 planned for the site.

Members were also initially reluctant to take on a mortgage. For now, the branch will own the legion facility outright, with an option to purchase the street-level retail space for $2 million.

The branch could then rent out the retail space. Over time, those leases would become an income source.

Ostrom said the legion project won’t go ahead unless 40 per cent of the condominium units in the development are pre-sold.

If not, the legion would remain where it is.

Those arguments helped sway members in favour of the plan, which will still require approval by Dominion Command of the Royal Canadian Legion.

The legion project is part of a larger revitalization plan for the City of Surrey-owned mall.

The ultimate plan is to transform the nearly deserted mall and its expansive outdoor parking lots into an urban village with shops, townhomes and public spaces.

“The idea is that there will be three to four hundred units in this project that will bring shoppers to Cloverdale,” said Jim Cox, president and CEO of Surrey City Development Corp.

Most of the mall tenants moved out Oct. 31, except for the Cloverdale Sikh Society’s temple and a soup kitchen and cold weather shelter operated by a local church. Both have been given an extension to Jan. 31.

Cox said the mall will be torn down in early February, with construction on the legion project, an adjacent three-storey mixed use building, and a westward extension of 57A Avenue from 176 Street starting early next spring.

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