The City of Chilliwack has taken the next step in its long-term plan to acquire downtown properties and create a welcome mat for private developers.
City hall issued a "notice of intent" Thursday to expropriate the Irwin Block at Five Corners as part of the revitalization and redevelopment of the area.
The owner of the Irwin Block at 9282 Young Road is listed as Xing Chen of Vancouver.
As recently as September the building had a for-sale poster in the window with a $1.28 million price tag. The sign described the property as a "future condo development site."
The for-sale sign has been down for at least a month, and BC Assessment gives the property a value of $615,000.
"We want to pay fair market value," Mayor Sharon Gaetz told the Times Thursday. "We have been in contact with the owner. He is not a resident of the City of Chilliwack. It is our understanding the building has some issues, some of which are structural so remediation is cost-prohibitive."
The city's plan is to assemble a 1.5-acre chunk of land bounded by Young Road, Yale Road, Nowell Street and Princess Avenue.
While the city's plan is to demolish the Irwin Block—which sits next to the old Empress Hotel property, which was demolished in September, 2010—Gaetz wanted to reassure people the city does not have plans to tear down the whole block.
"Eventually this building will probably need to be demolished but it is not the city's intention to go in and start demolishing buildings," she said. "There are still some active businesses in that area. We just really want to retain ownership so we can present a full package to a potential developer."
The city currently owns 11 properties in the block in question. Many of the buildings are held by out-of-town individuals and companies, but a number of them are owned by Chilliwack resident Alex Marks.