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Essence ups its game with Jericho master-plan in Metro Vancouver

Phase 1 development at Langley Twp. site comprises 2,000 homes, commercial and green spaces

An overview of the Jericho master-planned community being developed in Langley Twp., in Metro Vancouver. (Courtesy Essence Properties)
An overview of the Jericho master-planned community being developed in Langley Twp., in Metro Vancouver. (Courtesy Essence Properties)

It’s clear Kevin Dhaliwal is a fan of the Langley Events Centre (LEC) and the change it has helped spark in the 15 years since it opened in the Township of Langley. 

The CEO and founder of Essence Properties, which owns a site directly across the street from the 5,000-seat arena, brings up the stadium several times during an interview with RENX. 

"When the events centre was built, I thought it was a remarkable building," Dhaliwal said. "When you come outside and you look around, it's beautiful, right? And it's like, 'Why wouldn't anyone want to live here?' " 

Dhaliwal’s family-owned company has specialized in developing multifamily projects all within a short range of the LEC, which opened in 2009. The facility is located on 200 Street and 80 Avenue in the Willoughby neighbourhood of the Township of Langley — about a 30-minute drive (without traffic) from Vancouver. 

Dhaliwal also happens to be an owner of the Vancouver Bandits, a professional basketball team in the Canadian Elite Basketball League that plays in the LEC. The facility is also home to the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League. 

Now, Essence is launching a multi-phase master-planned community across the street from the arena. 

Called Jericho, the site is set within 200 Street, 78B Avenue, 199 Street and 80 Avenue. It will eventually include — if fully approved and realized — a mix of low-rise and high-rise buildings with approximately 2,000 homes, green space and commercial units.

High-density mix of homes, retail and possibly a hotel

"Our first phase consists of four low-rise, mixed-use buildings, (including) 385 residential (condo) units and 18 commercial units," Dhaliwal said.

Jericho Park, as Phase 1 is known, will also include 20,000 square feet of outdoor amenity space, including a courtyard and rooftop area. 

Dhaliwal said the second phase will consist of four additional low-rise mixed-use buildings as well as a 46-storey tower with retail on the ground level. One of those retail units is well-suited for a grocery store: "That's really important to us," he said. 

Phase 3 will consist of two more high-rise buildings with street-level retail space. "We're actually just currently exploring the opportunity to incorporate a hotel component," Dhaliwal said. 

He said his team achieved a final adoption from the local government for Phase 1 a few months ago.

"We've already started our civil work, so there's a lot of activity on site already, and then the subsequent phases . . . we're just working through the rezoning of that."

So far, Essence has built seven multifamily condo and townhome projects, all within walking distance of the LEC. "There's so much to do (in the area) without having to get in your car and drive," Dhaliwal said.

He is also hopeful the city will proceed with the idea of building a pedestrian overpass between his site and the LEC.

Skytrain expansion, new rapid bus plan

A courtyard and housing and commercial area in the Jericho community in Langley Twp. (Courtesy Essence Properties)
A courtyard and mid-rise housing area in the Jericho community in Langley Twp. (Courtesy Essence Properties)

In November, TransLink, the regional transit authority, announced it would develop a new Bus Rapid Transit corridor from Langley Centre to Haney Place, which would bring more people along 200 Street past the LEC and the Jericho site. 

The new rapid bus line will feed into more commercial and residential development, Dhaliwal said.

"One of their major nodes is going to be 200 Street and 80 Avenue, with a rapid transit stop at that location.” 

During the transit announcement, Mayor Eric Woodward said the Township of Langley was long overdue for a significant investment in transit infrastructure from TransLink and was the largest municipality in the region without rapid transit.

“The Langley – Haney Place Bus Rapid Transit line is one of the best corridors to get going on right away,” the mayor said. "200 Street is an obvious choice for the mayors’ council to confirm. I am pleased they did so and look forward to working with the region to make it a success.”

Meanwhile, work is beginning on the $4.01-billion SkyTrain extension from Surrey’s King George station through Langley to Langley City Centre, located south of the Township.

It is expected to open in late 2028 and will vastly improve the connection between the broader Langley area and the urban core. 

Jericho project to become focus for Essence

Surrey-based Essence launched in 2015. Dhaliwal said the firm handles its own development, marketing and construction work.

After wrapping up a few other Langley townhome projects, the focus will be entirely on the Jericho master plan.

"I don't see myself acquiring any more land until this is all built-out. . . . Obviously this is a very big development, but I don't want to get spread too thin,” Dhaliwal said.

Dhaliwal said the focus has been on Langley since Essence completed its first project in the area in 2021.

"I got to know the area really well," he said. "The Langley Events Centre is . . . a very special building."

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