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TFN enters into agreement for two development projects

Tsawwassen First Nation has partnered with Ivanhoe Cambridge and Property Development Group to develop two large shopping centres on up to 175 acres.

TFN announced the memorandum of agreement between the development groups and the TFN Economic Development Corporation (TEDC) on Friday (April 8).

In the media release, TEDC's CEO Chris Hartman said Ivanhoe Cambridge has proposed developing about two thirds of the property, located north of Highway 17 and east of the B.C. Ferry Terminal, and Property Development Group plans to develop the remaining third.

"Under the current concept, approximately 1.8 million square feet of retail, office, entertainment and other uses would be developed in two projects," Hartman said.

When asked what 1.8 million square feet looks like, he compared the size to Metropolis at Metrotown in Burnaby.

Ivanhoe Cambridge wants to create a 1.2 million square foot destination retail and entertainment centre tentatively named Tsawwassen Mills, inspired by the success of its previous projects, CrossIron Mills north of Calgary and Vaughan Mills north of Toronto which opened in 2010 and 2004, respectively.

Property Development Group has proposed a 600,000-square-foot outdoor retail space and other mixed uses called Tsawwassen Commons.

In a phone interview, Hartman said the projects will respect First Nation culture in their appearance, similar to how CrossIron Mills attempted to reflect Alberta culture in its design.

"We'll be doing something similar but better here in terms of making sure the Coast Salish art and culture is reflected in the building design," he said.

Hartman added they will also work with the developers to implement sustainability guidelines being developed by TFN.

He said Ivanhoe Cambridge in particular has been "quite progressive" in terms of incorporating sustainable features into their projects, such as underground cisterns that capture and reuse storm water.

The next step following the memorandum of agreement is for both companies to further develop their concepts and then enter into more detailed discussions with TFN and the TEDC.

Hartman said if the projects proceed as currently conceptualized, construction could generate more than 1,200 person years of employment and create more than 4,500 part time and full time jobs once completed.

The TEDC hopes initial phases of construction will be underway in 2012.

"We're looking forward to this project," Hartman said. "We believe as a signature shopping centre in the province, it will help a lot in terms of attracting other developments of similar quality to Tsawwassen First Nation."

Ana Arciniega, executive director of Tsawwassen's Business Improvement Association (BIA) said the organization plans to meet with TFN's Economic Development Corporation to see how the two can work together to the benefit of businesses in both communities.

"Obviously they're going to be developing a lot over there and we have to try to see if there's any synergies we can have," she said.

Arciniega added she is not sure what impact the developments will have on local business, but noted the BIA will be working on how to better brand Tsawwassen and engage consumers.

"A lot of our local businesses have a relationship with a lot of their customers," she said. "They're their neighbours, their friends, the parents' kids go to the same school. So customer service will be key for the smaller businesses to continue to receive support from the community."

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