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Will this beloved Port Moody coffee shop survive a massive redevelopment plan?

The P. Burns & Co. butcher shop was built in 1908

The owner of a beloved coffee shop and art gallery in Port Moody’s historic downtown hopes there will still be a place for him if the block along Clarke Street between Kyle Street and the Queen’s Street plaza is redeveloped.

On July 25, Placemaker Communities and GBL Architects received first and second reading from council for amendments to Port Moody’s official community plan and a heritage revitalization agreement for a proposal to build two six-storey buildings comprising 182 residential units, as well as live–work spaces, along the block.

As part of the project, the developer will move the old P. Burns & Co. butcher shop that is listed on the city’s register of heritage buildings along with Canadian registry of historic places.

Cezar Salaveria, who opened GRIT café and gallery three years ago in the old butcher shop that was constructed in 1908, said he’s been advised by the developer of its plans and encouraged to stay until construction begins.

After that, he hopes to be able to open pop-up shops at locations around Port Moody to keep GRIT alive until the building has been moved west and renovated to be more open to the adjacent plaza.

Salaveria said Placemaker is “seeing value in what we’re doing at GRIT, providing a creative hub for the community and promoting and supporting the arts in Port Moody,” but whether he’ll be able to reopen in the butcher shop is still unknown.

“Hopefully, once the new development on Clarke Street is finished, GRIT will be able to stay and call it our home,” Salveria said.

Placemaker’s proposal includes 103 strata homes in one building and 79 market rental apartments along with nine live–work spaces that could be used as artists’ studios and 24,000 sq. ft. of commercial space in the other.

The buildings would be separated by an open mews that features a significant piece of public art.

Hesam Deihimi, the president of the North Vancouver company, told council the project has evolved considerably since its first presentation in February 2022 as the result of three public consultation sessions, including keeping the old butcher shop’s frontage on Queen’s Street and opening up its side wall to the plaza.

He also announced the development would carry the name of the late Mary Anne Cooper, an avid advocate for Port Moody’s heritage who passed away in 2021 at the age of 107.

GBL’s Joey Stevens said the mews also has the potential to become “a really fun, active space” to help invigorate the neighbourhood.

Coun. Amy Lubik said she loved the project’s “focus on placemaking,” while Coun. Samantha Agtarap praised the company’s decision to place the old butcher shop in a more prominent place and open it up to the adjacent plaza rather than its initial idea to move it to Spring Street.

“Sharing the public realm with businesses is an appropriate use,” she said.

Port Moody residents will get a chance to share their thoughts about the proposal at a public hearing, likely in the fall.