City of White Rock graphic                                The Lower Johnston streetscape could soon look like this, according to a rendering of the Solterra development proposed for 1350 Johnston Road.

City of White Rock graphic The Lower Johnston streetscape could soon look like this, according to a rendering of the Solterra development proposed for 1350 Johnston Road.

Deals World scrambles to find new home

Residential/commercial development planned for White Rock discount store’s site

Deals World owner John Rotonen – who was expecting to have to close up shop and move premises next spring – has learned his popular discount store in the lower Johnston Road area of White Rock must move out by the end of this October.

Rotonen, who said his store has occupied the current building at 1350 Johnston Rd. for about 15 years, said he was notified at the end of July by an email from the property owners of the new deadline to vacate the premises, slated for redevelopment.

“It was a surprise,” he said, noting it took him two weeks to establish there was no room for negotiation on the deadline.

“I was trying to reach them but I couldn’t get hold of anybody.”

Rotonen acknowledges he has had “a very good relationship with my landlords” and that “they are within their rights to do whatever they want with their property.”

The property in question is subject of a 14-storey residential/commercial proposal from Solterra Developments, given initial readings by White Rock council on July 24 and set to return for public hearing in early September.

Proposing 97 residential units plus 9,874 square feet of commercial space, it’s a scaling down of the original application – for a 20-storey, 127-unit building – that came before council in June.

At that time, council endorsed a staff recommendation to send the application back for revision more in keeping with guidelines in the revised OCP, which calls for a 10- to 12-storey height range in the lower Johnston Road area.

Rotonen said he understands that Solterra wants to create a sales office and show home on the property, but said he is surprised at the notice Deals World received, since the project has yet to be approved by the city.

“I understand (getting) the building permit alone takes a year,” he said. “Now I’m looking for a new space, but there is very little space available.

“We are looking to stay in the White Rock or South Surrey area – we have a very good customer base here… I have a couple of prospects, but the problem is that, while there is quite a bit of smaller space, there’s not a lot at the size I need.”

Rotonen said that, so far, he is not looking at downsizing his operation.

“We haven’t got that far yet – but I’m keeping my options open.”

In the meantime, Deals World is holding a closing sale, promising up to 70 per cent discounts on some items. It started Monday.