After years of promises and delays, it’s happening.
A demolition crew began chomping into what most agree is Cloverdale’s biggest eyesore Feb. 8, setting off a wave of reactions among readers: curiosity, nostalgia, and unbridled relief – the Cloverdale Mall is finally coming down.
I’ve been posting photographs of the demolition on the Cloverdale Reporter’s Facebook Page, where we’ve created digital photo albums showing how the mall looked when tenants cleared out in October – and another documenting the unfolding tear-down.
The Facebook comments have been so fun to read, I couldn’t resist sharing them in print, too.
“Wooo hooo yaaaaa!” wrote Keith Aldrige. “It’ll be nice to see it all gone and cleaned up.”
“End of an era,” commented Russel Lolacher. “My mom used to work there.”
Local realtor Jo-Anne Maynes’ parents worked there, too – her mom and dad owned Ed’s Furniture and Appliances. Her dad has since passed away, but she can still picture him wandering around the mall and pulling up on his motorcycle to open the store.
When Maynes’ kids were little, she took them to visit Santa.
“Sad to see it go for those reasons but oh sooo excited to see the new development,” wrote Maynes, who works at Re/Max Cloverdale/Langley along with her husband Bob.
In addition to Santa visits, Lisa Bender-Foslett holds fond memories of Easter egg hunts and frosty malts. “The mixer shack had the best cotton candy gum balls,” she added, promising to bring in her own pictures of the mall under construction in 1973.
“I didn’t spend a lot of time there,” wrote Not Quite South Surrey, a popular local blogger. “But I remember that was one of the last ‘Real’ Safeways, before they all became HUGE stores. I remember ‘hanging out’ (aka loitering) as a teen… [it] will be interesting to see the changes and hopefully revitalization of the huge potential in Cloverdale.”
Tapping into that potential is the main reason the mall is being torn down – to make way for a new, commercial and residential development. Construction on phase one of Cloverdale West Village is expected to get underway later this year.
The first phase includes a new home for the Cloverdale Legion plus about 100 residential units proponents say will help build density in the downtown core.
By coincidence, it’s also the end of the line for the Cloverdale Antique Mall, one of the last remnants of Cloverdale’s famed antique alley.
It easily be argued that it’s been a victim of its own success. In contributing to the overall economic health of Cloverdale’s commercial sector, it got priced out, according to the man who started the mall in 1999, Bill Reid.
The landlord wanted to hike the lease – a devastating development for the current owners, the 40-odd antique and collectible dealers under the mall’s roof, and the hundreds of local consignment sellers. Ironically, business has never been better – thanks to the liquidation sale. Reid says a third of the customers are locals who never knew the mall existed.
“This is incredible,” they tell him. “How come you’re moving?”
When it opened, Cloverdale was home to at least 10 antiques and collectible stores, most along 176 Street, including the incredible Red Barn Store, which is also getting out of the antique business, sooner rather than later. That will leave just two shops here.
It’s impossible to deny it. Things are changing in every direction you look. Most are entirely positive: the new recreation centre is nearly complete. And kitty-corner from the old mall is the site of a new shopping plaza.
Add to that the promise of a new car barn here for the Fraser Valley Railway Society – and local launch for the heritage rail demonstration project – and it’s clear Cloverdale is changing for the better.
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Jennifer Lang is the editor of The Cloverdale Reporter.