A Saltair landowner is hoping to submit an application this month to transform a vacant lot on Chemainus Road into a pedestrian-friendly market with a variety of retailers.
Morris, owner of Saltair Self-Storage, the Saltair Mobile Home Park and HomeFront Modulars, a Cowichan Valley modular home dealership, has an idea that he feels would bring people to Saltair while also giving people a chance to own commercial space and build equity.
Originally, Morris’ plan for Stocking Creek Market, revealed in June 2013, was to develop the vacant lot south of the mobile home park on Chemainus Road into an open-air market where shops and restaurants would be housed in converted shipping containers.
But now that plan’s been revamped, and the shipping containers are no longer part of the concept.
Instead, says Morris, there will be site-built West Coast-style commercial buildings that feature lots of cedar, stone and steel.
“It will be very modern but very West Coast looking,” he said.
Morris has also changed the size and number of buildings to reflect what he’s heard from potential retailers.
“The buildings were initially very small, but we talked to several retailers, and they wanted 1,200- to 1,500-square-foot buildings, so what we’ve done is we’ve reduced the number of lots from 20 to 14 but increased the size that the buildings can get,” he said. “We’ll be able to accommodate on most lots 1,200- to 1,500-square-foot buildings and on some, as big as 2,000 square feet.”
Morris says their main focus is to bring retailers in at a “very affordable” rate.
“This has to be really attractive so that people can get the benefit of owning the lot and the building and getting the affordability,” he said. “This will give people the security of knowing they’re here to stay; ownership is a security.”
And a desire to give people that security is a big reason why Morris wants to do this.
“I know there are people who are struggling sometimes in retail operations just to make their rent, and once their business has been there for years, they have nothing to show for it, really they don’t,” he said. “By moving into this subdivision, hopefully their cost will be less, but even more so than that, every month, they’re building equity in themselves.
“I do a lot of affordable housing; that’s my main focus; I’ve been working in mobile home developments in providing affordable housing, but it’s not enough. People need affordable business opportunities.”
Morris says he’s had a broad mix of people ask about the project who’ve been interested in opening a floral shop, liquor store and various retail operations.
“We have had good interest,” he said. “It’s going to have great services, and it will have a great ability to draw people in.”
Morris hopes to have his application into the Cowichan Valley Regional District this week. If it is approved, he hopes to start servicing Stocking Creek Open Market in early spring 2015.
Morris has been working with McElhanney Associates Land Surveying Ltd. to come up with the concept.
“The best thing I ever did with this is I hired Reg Harding from McElhanney,” he said. “If I would say anything about what they’ve done is they’ve taken my idea and made it better, significantly. The landscaping, the pedestrian access and the whole flow of the place is much better.”
If anyone has any comments or concerns, Morris encourages them to call him at 250-710-0765.