If only those old beams and rafters could talk – what stories they could tell. Built in the days when top quality fir lumber was cheap and plentiful, many of Mission’s downtown buildings used this material in abundance – usually well hidden under flooring or behind walls and ceilings.
33072 First Avenue is one of those buildings. Recently purchased by Cypress Hills Contracting Ltd., its old interior finishing has been gutted, and it is in line to be the first building to be completely renovated under the downtown revitalization program initiatives. And its structural lumber is currently exposed to the world – a testament to its sound and durable construction.
Those old beams do have stories. 33072 has been home to a number of reputable tenants – Murdoch Book Store, Royal LePage Realty, Sugar Shack and the Ye Old Bird Tea House among them. Its bottom floor facing Railway Avenue housed the Union Gospel Mission for many years. But its upper floor, consisting of ten residential suites crammed into less than 6,000 dark and dingy square feet, presented a clean-up challenge for the new owners.
“This was a crack house – a real mess,” muses Cypress Hills partner John Unger. “Not the kind of activity you want in a vibrant downtown core. We’re very happy to be making a difference here.”
He refers to the new blueprint drawings that detail the renovation plan. The north elevation facing First Avenue will feature old brick, brand new windows and warm exterior lighting – “a real heritage feel,” says John – in keeping with downtown planning guidelines. The street frontage will provide level entry to approximately 6,000 ft2 of retail space, with lots of natural light from both south and north. The lower floor is below grade at First Avenue, but has excellent visibility from Railway Avenue.
But it’s the top floor that has the greatest potential. Again a 6,000 ft2 space, and again with good natural lighting from both ends, it is ready to be made into outstanding office accommodation for any type of small to medium-sized company, whether established or just starting up.
Readers might ask: Why Mission? Economic Development Officer Stacey Crawford has a ready answer.
“The Golden Ears and Mission bridges give easy access to neighbouring Lower Mainland communities, Highway 1 and Abbotsford Airport.” he says. “Mission lease rates are among the lowest in the Fraser Valley, and are much, much below Vancouver’s. The West Coast Express is a three minute walk, coffee shops and restaurants abound, there are lots of recreation opportunities, and Mission is a wonderful place to raise a family. Any company wishing to move here will be on the ground floor of an exciting and growing urban renewal that is well underway. So why NOT Mission?”
John Unger agrees. “We’re excited to be part of this downtown project,” he says. “We have a lot of confidence in Mission.”
“There are other excellent retail and office opportunities on First Avenue in addition to this one,” notes Stacey. “I invite anybody to visit or give my office a call. You just might be surprised at what Mission has to offer.”