Monday, May 26, 2014
Big plans for old courthouse, a former nuclear
The old Chilliwack Courthouse at the corner of
College and Victoria is being turned into commercial space for
of gray dust billows up from what once was the Chilliwack courthouse
on Victoria Ave. where crews are tearing out large chunks of roofing
material and heave it into a bin on the ground.
At first glance, it appears the red brick structure, which has been
vacant for almost 15 years, finally has a date with the wrecker's
that's not the case. Plans are in the works to refit the building
for commercial leases and possibly even residential units.
Daniel Werner from WDI Contracting, told the Voice on
Saturday that a group of Chilliwack business people think the
structure is worth saving.
According to Werner, who has the
architectural blueprints, the building was designed to serve as a
nuclear fallout shelter for diplomats in the 1950s during the Cold
War, and so extras were added during construction. For instance, the
reinforced concrete and steel columns have been driven 25 feet down.
"You can't build a structure now as good as they built back then for
a comparable price," he said.
Werner isn't sure when the job will be done.
"That depends on the City," he said. "We can start right now, but it
takes time to get the paperwork done and everything else."
The property will have to be rezoned from a P1 (Civic Assembly) zone
to P2 (Special Institutional) zone first. A P2 zoning "is best
suited for medical and private care facilities and general public
"Originally it was set up for court. Now we need bigger spaces for
the units that will be going in there," he explained.
(R) speaks with one of his crew at the former courthouse on
Fnal plans haven't been carved in stone,
but the group wanted to make sure that the proper zoning was in
place should they decide on a mix of commercial and residential use.
Werner couldn't say when the renovations would be complete but
indicated crews will be finished gutting the structure in a couple
"The roofline's going to change but we're not going to add a floor —
not yet anyway. We're still looking at things," he said.
The building has been targeted by metal thieves over the years that
it's sat empty. But Werner says they'll have lots of security as
construction continues and the power is restored.
"Now we're running off of generators to get going. We applied for
the power and when we have power, there's going to be a motion
detector and cameras all throughout which will stay until the
building is in use," he explained. "If someone jumps over the fence,
the motion detector will go off and you're going to hear the siren.
The cops are just around the corner."
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