Little India Plaza set to boost Surrey neighbourhood

posted on March 24, 2015

By Evan Duggan, Vancouver Sun | Link to Article

By Evan Duggan, Vancouver Sun | Link to Article

Seven years ago, Baljit Grewal and her father Sukhdev Saini relocated their family’s wedding services shop from Vancouver to Surrey. They made the move among a rising wave of Indo-Canadian business owners who, today, continue to move to a section of Newton from Vancouver’s Main Street — the region’s now lagging hub of Indian culture and commerce.

“We never regretted it because parking was the main issue there on Main,” Grewal said in an interview at their shop in the Payal Business Centre on 128th Street in Newton. “Parking here is not a problem, and secondly, it saves us a lot of commute time. Also, the prices that we were paying in rent on Main Street kept increasing.”

Business at the Bride & Groom Shop has been booming, offsetting the additional strata fees and property tax costs of ownership, Grewal said. They even expanded into the neighbouring unit at Payal Centre two years after buying their initial space for their 30-year-old business.

It’s small, family-run businesses like Grewal’s that Surrey has been trying to attract in recent years as part of a plan to reshape this section of Newton into a hub for South Asian services, culture and commerce.

Over the last couple of years, little has visibly changed in Surrey’s so-called Little India, a section of Newton with a mix of light industrial and commercial businesses set around the intersection of 128th Street and 80th Avenue.

The York Centre and Punjab Cloth House continue to anchor 80th Avenue while properties along the busy 128th Street are a mix of light-industrial buildings with a few mechanic shops and small retail stores. The Payal Centre remains the core of the commercial area. It’s a mazelike strip mall with a vast assortment of family-run jewellers, bridal stores, hair salons, clothing shops and other boutique retail.

But now a major development on the corner of 128th Street and 80th Avenue is set to break ground, providing what city officials characterize as the major next step in bringing Little India to life.

Little India Plaza will comprise a mix of services and retail targeted at South Asian residents and visitors. The development by Wales McLelland Construction and Northwest Development is set on a triangular lot and will have five buildings.

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