The vacant plot of land at the corner of 44 Street and 50 Avenue will soon be the home of a new commercial plaza.
At its Sept. 8 meeting, Lloydminster city council approved the development permit for the site, the former location of Nelson Lumber, which has been empty since 2011.
Developer Choice Properties plans to build nine commercial buildings over two phases. Seven of these stores and eateries will be done in Phase 1, while the remaining structures will be completed in the second stage and will be subject to “market demands.” A total of 939 parking stalls are also included in the proposed plan.
“It’s been a vacant lot for a number of years ... and we’ve seen it slowly get cleaned up and readied for development but today we saw a very strong first step towards seeing what that development’s going to look like going forward,” city Coun. Linnea Goodhand said. “It’s such a high-profile area, absolutely. That’s what people see if they’re passing through the city and that’s where people will stop if we give them a reason to stop.”
The intersection of 44 Street and 52 Avenue will need updated signal timing, painting and signage to correspond with the new development. The intersection of 43 Street and 52 Avenue will need added signalization as well. The cost for these improvements will be split between the city and the developer, with the developer paying for the majority of the work.
“There’s an ongoing cost to the city to make sure our intersections are as functional as they can be,” Goodhand said.
“Increased traffic leads to tweaks and changes. The developer has an obligation to cover the ones that are related to the development and the city has an obligation to continue to maintain and improve access points.”
Construction is planned to begin as early as mid-September of this year and wrap up in 2016. Goodhand says while construction will likely affect traffic and accessibility in the area, the city and Choice Properties are committed to keeping the work to “a dull roar.”
“(We) don’t want to negatively impact existing businesses, that’s not the point of the exercise, but there will be some disruption for sure,” she said.
Despite the short-term inconveniences, Goodhand says further development and revitalization of the downtown area is good news for the local economy.
“I think there is a sense of fear out there that the economy is going to be limiting projects or having developers like Choice maybe take a step back and they’re telling us clearly today they’re not taking a step back, they’re going forward,” she said. “The economy will improve and we’re going to be ready for it when it happens.