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In the heart of Chilliwack, a renaissance is underway. The city's downtown core, once a simple stopover for gold-seeking miners, has undergone a remarkable transformation that echoes the past while embracing a vibrant future. In Season One of RealTours, Chilliwack real estate expert Kristina Legault introduces us to District 1881, a visionary redevelopment project by Algra Bros. They chose the name “District 1881” as a nod to the first major development established in Centreville, which would later be known as the City of Chilliwack.
The project has turned Chilliwack's historic Five Corners into a captivating destination known for its European vibes and undeniable charm.
The bold vision set forth by the architects at Craven Huston Powers was a visually pleasing, pedestrian-friendly development, with a respectful nod to Chilliwack’s storied past. The goal here was to improve the quality of life for the citizens and potential new residents of the great city of Chilliwack, while at the same time paying tribute to what’s always made Chilliwack a special corner in the Fraser Valley.
The developers at Algra Bros. aimed to keep as many parts of the downtown building’s façade that made sense, incorporating them and historical elements into their designs as they’ve done on past projects in Abbotsford and at Garrison Crossing. The monumental effort has led to a rich experience, one that puts people ahead of vehicles and independent local businesses ahead of chains.
The area's pedestrian alleys are alive with loft-style apartments, innovative office spaces, and an array of locally-owned eateries, breweries, and boutiques.
The innovative approach has not just revitalized the physical landscape but has sown the seeds for a robust, sustainable community while setting a new benchmark for downtown redevelopment. With a mix of retail, commercial, residential, and mixed-use spaces, this multi-year, multi-phase project adds depth to the city's heart, embracing jobs, amenities, and housing. District 1881 is an example of what residential and commercial real estate can look like side by side, with several residences sitting atop the impressive storefronts in the area.
The 3.75-acre redevelopment site is a testament to what can be done to preserve and revitalize a historic area. The area was home to unique buildings and unique materials, like the tin ceiling tiles from the historic Imperial Theatre, or the easily recognizable façades on the outsides of the buildings. Every detail of the District 1881 was thought through carefully, including the local nature of the businesses in the area. All of the businesses are independent business owners from the Fraser Valley - no franchises or big box stores.
Within the European-infused charm of District 1881, a range of residences adds depth to its character. Woolworth Flats 1881, perched within the historic Woolworth Building, offers stylish one-bedroom apartments. These abodes grant residents access to the thriving heart of Chilliwack, from restaurants to breweries, right at their doorstep.
CHWK Flats 1881, comprising ten loft-style apartments, enriches the area with its unique character, ideally located between Woolly Dog and Sasquatch Alleys. And not to be forgotten, Townhomes 1881 defines a "live and work" lifestyle, accommodating professionals and artisans with a unique blend of living and commercial space.
Chilliwack's success in revitalizing its downtown core echoes across British Columbia. Communities like Fort Langley have embraced their historic character, drawing tourists and locals alike to experience the past in a modern light. Meanwhile, Revelstoke captures the essence of mountain heritage, and places like Kaslo and Rossland proudly exhibit their historic roots, showcasing how the charm of yesteryears can shape a thriving present.
In Chilliwack, the revival of District 1881 serves as a testament to the power of visionary redevelopment. It's a corner of the Fraser Valley where history mingles with innovation, where people live, work, and thrive. With European vibes, unique character, and a rich sense of community, District 1881 stands tall as an emblem of Chilliwack's renewed spirit.