- BC Games
Steveston Secondary site could be transformed in 3 years
It was a story many years in the making, one filled with twists and turns, highs and lows.
But there was a happy ending this week, with only smiles at the table Wednesday afternoon as the Richmond Board of Education and the president of Polygon Homes elaborated on the $41 million sale of the 13-acre former home of the Steveston Packers.
Neil Chrystal, president and CEO of Polygon Homes Ltd., said shovels could hit the dirt as soon as the end of 2014, if the six- to 12-month rezoning process runs smoothly. He said he'd like to see the project, that could feature roughly 150 three-storey townhouses, completed in the next three years.
"This is a very established neighbourhood. I think as we start the planning process, we've got to be sensitive to the needs of the surrounding community," Chrystal said. "It might take two to three years to build out the community, and obviously we'd try not to be too disruptive to the surrounding community."
Board of Education chair Donna Sargent thanked the many people involved in making the deal a reality.
"This is a day to really celebrate together," Sargent said. "This has been a very long haul...We are very excited about what this means for our district...We chose Polygon because we are very confident that they will work with the community to build this site."
Superintendent of schools Monica Pamer said it was a collaborative effort involving district staff and the board, but credited secretary treasurer Mark De Mello and facilities and planning director Clive Mason for doing the "heavy lifting."
"It's a celebratory mood. It's been a long time in the coming," Pamer said.
Chrystal said large parcels of land are hard to come by in Richmond, and he envisioned a mix of townhouse styles, some aimed at empty nesters seeking to downsize and travel, others catering more to first-time buyers.
"Richmond really is just a great community to do business in," Chrystal said. "We stretched to buy it and hopefully we'll be rewarded in the long run."
As for how the district will be using the $41 million windfall, Sargent said the money will be placed in the district's capital account for the acquisition of new school sites and district staff will be working very quickly on identifying lands in two areas of Richmond that will be needing new schools in the near future: city centre and Hamilton. Those two projects are on the front burner, already part of the district's five-year capital plan sent to the province, but Sargent said there will be extensive community consultation as well on how to spend the money.
"We understand that Hamilton will be doubling out (in population), and our school there currently is maxed out at optimal enrollment. So we need something there as well," Sargent said.
The deal includes the donation of a five-acre park to the City of Richmond, which will nestle up against an existing city park that adjoins Steveston-London secondary's property.
Sargent said Steveston secondary served as the vibrant home to half a century of students, and brought a lot of life to the community.
But in recent years, since its closure, it has become delapidated.
"To see a rotting building, people don't like that in their community," Sargent said.
And so as a Steveston-area residents, Sargent said she's looking forward to providing her input on the community consultation process, and seeing new life breathed into the property in the next few years.
The $41.125 deal completes on Dec. 17, 2014, and the first $1 million deposit has already been made. The second installment of $3 million needs to be made by the end of this week, with the balance paid out at the end of next year.
The final selling price could increase if certain undisclosed conditions are met, Sargent said.
Realtor Sean Lawson said the district got a good price for the property.
"Polygon really stepped up and paid," he said, adding that Polygon is a "capable developer who will make it happen and do a good job."