Langley City is planning to demolish a string of buildings in the downtown core within the next year, including the former Langley Hotel on Fraser Highway.
The City has applied – to itself – for demolition permits to take down the Langley Hotel, the Key Largo Building to its west, the building to the east that houses the Pastimes Hobbies and the former Pipe & Pouch location, and on nearby 204th Street, the Avecina medical clinic.
All the properties are currently owned by the City.
“We’ve been acquiring them over the last decade,” said City Mayor Nathan Pachal.
While plans have been in place to demolish some of the buildings for some time – a 2019 story about squatters in the Langley Hotel mentioned a plan to demolish the structure – Pachal said the buildings are now expected to start coming down relatively soon.
Exact dates are uncertain, because the first step is assessing the presence of asbestos in the old buildings, said Pachal. Then a plan will have to be made for safe asbestos removal, and then demolition.
However, demolition is expected to start sooner rather than later, the mayor said.
The demolition will clear a strip of commercial land along the south side of Fraser Highway that will extend from the Egg Bomb restaurant east to 204th Street.
The most notable building on the block is the Langley Hotel, which has been closed for years.
Originally created from a renovated boarding house in the 1930s, the building on its wedge-shaped piece of property was a local landmark, with a large neon sign.
It housed a bar and restaurant downstairs and a number of hotel rooms on the upper floor.
The building went through a number of of phases, including as a bar featuring exotic dancers, then in the 1990s as an English-style pub, and finally as a sports pub, dubbed Baselines. By the 2000s, the hotel rooms had essentially become single-room-occupancy housing.
The iconic neon sign was removed in the mid-2000s for safety reasons after the hotel was condemned. The bulk of the building has been closed and fenced off since before the pandemic. In 2019, Langley RCMP responded to a reported break in and found evidence people had been squatting there.
The sites are not going to be redeveloped commercially, said Pachal.
In the short term, the sites will be used for temporary civic uses – there has been discussion of a pickleball court, community garden, or container café – and as extra parking for downtown.
That will be needed as the City undertakes another big project, tearing up part of the Fraser Highway one-way section east of 204th Street to replace decades-old pipes under the road.
Following the conclusion of the Fraser Highway project, the land acquisitions will allow for some road re-alignments related to the arrival of SkyTrain in 2028.
The City also plans to use them for any needed expansion of the Timms Community Centre and City Hall, as well as for a possible performing arts centre, Pachal said.