The closure of the Toys ‘R’ Us and Dollarama stores in Whalley is part of a plan to develop a “Georgetown” community on the site.
The toy store closed for good on Oct. 24, followed by the ‘dollar’ retailer a couple weeks later.
Most of the now-vacant building will be demolished, with close to 7,600 square feet of it converted into a presentation centre for use by Anthem Properties, owners of the site, at Whalley Boulevard and 102nd Avenue.
The company’s Georgetown mixed-use development is planned to include nine towers, some townhouses, offices, retail, park space and a central plaza with public art, according to Rob Blackwell, Anthem’s executive vice-president of development.
“It’s always been envisioned as a real complete community and pocket neighbourhood that has all the amenities, both public and private,” Blackwell told the Now-Leader.
Eventually, the development will also involve the land where the Save-On Foods and Canadian Tire stores currently stand, off King George Boulevard.
Currently being built to the west of the former Toys ‘R’ Us store is Georgetown One, where construction began just over a year ago for targeted completion in June of 2022.
The closure of the toy store hit some people hard on Facebook, where Scott Dombrowski posted video of the sign being removed.
“It always felt like it was a week away from closing anytime I was inside,” added David Hume.
“It is unfortunate. Toys R Us had great stuff, but was way too expensive. That was their downfall,” posted Sean Snow.
Bonnie Burnside, manager of Downtown Surrey BIA, remembers when the building was home to a Future Shop store, in the early 2000s.
“I live in the area and I’m there all the time,” Burnside said. “I was very sad to see it go because during COVID, my two little nieces, who are three and four, they usually come spend a Saturday night with me every second week, and I was running out of things to do with them. You can’t go to the library, you can’t go to the play area at the mall, there’s nothing to do, so every second week our trip was to the Toys ‘R’ Us, to buy a toy and look around. And so now, for fun we take my car through the car wash, that’s what we do. That’s fun for, like, 10 minutes.”
The complex where the Save-On and Canadian Tire stores do business won’t close anytime soon, Blackwell said.
“Those tenants are there for quite some time, as their leases allow them to do that, and we’re just working with the City of Surrey to make application to put together the whole master plan for the area,” he said. “That area will change several years down the road.
“Our next phase is on the Toys ‘R’ Us site, on the north end of that site,” Blackwell elaborated. “The presentation centre will be located in the southern part of that (building), and the north end will be the next phase of Georgetown.
“We’re working with the City of Surrey on the approval process, with new road linkages and other things that divide the site up, with a new road to be called 102A Street.”
Anthem Properties is also building the Wood & Water development adjacent to the redesigned Eaglequest Coyote Creek golf course, in the 7700-block of 152nd Street.
In a move OK’d by Surrey city council in October, the developer will spend more than $200,000 to install a white-marble sculpture of three “dancing bears” on city-owned land near the new Fleetwood-area townhouses. In a public art contribution mandated by city hall, the company has elected to install “In the Spirit,” carved by B.C.-based artist John McKinnon, on what’s considered a “high-profile” location near a roundabout on 77th Avenue/Sitka Drive.