Plans to develop the former Travelaire Canada site in northwest Red Deer into a shopping centre have been renewed.
Officials with Hopewell Development were at Wednesday’s meeting of the city’s municipal planning commission, where a proposal for the development of nine commercial buildings at 6712 and 6714 Golden West Ave. was approved. The 10.7-acre property — which faces 67th Street to the south and Johnstone Drive to the west — has been mostly inactive since 2010, when Travelaire’s recreational vehicle manufacturing plant ceased operations.
Hopewell’s plans call for the immediate construction of four buildings, with these identified for use by a convenience store and gas bar, a restaurant, a liquor store, a financial services business and various other tenants.
Shauna Kvellestad, Hopewell’s associate director of retail development, said groundwork at the site should begin this month and the first four buildings be ready for tenants by the end of September.
“So then tenants are going to target to be open for Christmas.”
She said interest in the project has been strong, with space in the first buildings almost completely spoken for.
As a result, work on the fifth building could also begin this year, and the remaining four be under construction in 2016.
The nine buildings would consist of a combined 56,500 square feet.
“It’s a very exciting day when we can look at an investment in that particular area of our city that has been vacant and underdeveloped for quite a while, and along the entranceway to our city,” said Coun. Ken Johnston.
The previous owner of the property was Canadian Urban Ltd., which bought it from Travelaire’s parent company Glendale International Corp. in 2007. Two years ago, Canadian Urban obtained site development approval for a commercial centre with eight buildings, but never proceeded with that project. It sold the parcel to Hopewell and another development company last July.
The site is adjacent to a large industrial building to the north, which the commission was told might one day transform into part of the shopping centre. To accommodate that possibility, and the potential for a storm retention pond to the northwest to expand, Hopewell’s plan calls for 380 parking stalls — 92 more than it is required to have.
Despite voting in favour of the development, Coun. Dianne Wyntjes expressed concerns about “intensification of traffic” on 67th Street.
Frank Colosimo, the city’s engineering services manager, said measures will be taken to minimize the impact on traffic, but some congestion is inevitable.
“It will be working hard in those peak hours; there’s not a lot we can do about that in the area here.”
Mayor Tara Veer said the project will be a welcome addition to the area, and should help compel the city to upgrade 67th Street.
Calgary-based Hopewell is one of Canada’s largest commercial developers, but this will be its first project in Red Deer, said Kvellestad. She added that her company is pleased with the site and encouraged by the pace of leasing there.