“If you build it, they will come”
Developer sees Columbia as one of the great city centre streets in the Lower Mainland
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Columbia Street is on its way to reliving its glory days.
Robert Fung, president of the Salient Group, is working on plans to restore the façades of the historic Trapp Block and the Windjammer Hotel and to build a new tower behind those buildings. He believes in the “if you build it, they will come” adage.
“It’s a great street,” he said. “It has always been a great street. It’s like every great street that was the original city centre.”
Many of those streets are undergoing a resurgence, Fung said, because they have so much innate historical, cultural and social values.
“New Westminster has the greatest historical downtown in the Lower Mainland apart from Gastown,” he said. “Gastown has a condensed inventory of historical buildings. For the most part they have been maintained fairly well.”
Fung is well acquainted with the historical buildings of Gastown, having done several projects in that area. He said his approach hasn’t been to do a “plop and run” development but to contribute to the area’s economic energy.
“We are creating a critical mass and creating an energy that will influence investment,” he said. “I see potential for others. This one project has a critical mass.”
Fung said the proposed project in New Westminster is roughly the same buildable area as a three-phased project his company is doing on Water Street in Gastown.
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