A local company that has played an integral role in the development of Tsawwassen for more than half a century could soon be leaving the community.
The Century Group plans to relocate its headquarters to a major new development it's involved with in Surrey.
"That would be about four years from now. We are still in the approval process and moving ahead with it. I think what it came down to was being more central in the Lower Mainland," said president Sean Hodgins.
Formerly known as Century Holdings, the firm, in partnership with the Surrey City Development Corporation and Cotter Architects, wants to build a 54-storey residential tower with a 160-room hotel and ground level restaurant "that will set the tone for future growth in Surrey's City Centre."
The 104th Avenue development would be located next to the Gateway SkyTrain station.
The application was submitted last year.
On its website, Century Group says it plans to engage Surrey residents this spring in understanding the design and amenities of the building and surrounding public space.
"To show the company's commitment to the future of Surrey, Century Group and Cotter Architects plan to relocate their head offices to downtown Surrey in this iconic new building," the company stated on its website.
That reference about the relocation has since been removed.
Hodgins later explained his company has been looking at a more central location for a variety or reasons. including difficulty recruiting staff.
If approved and the Century Group does relocate, a major part of the identity of South Delta will also be gone.
Founded by his father, the late George Hodgins, before even the George Massey Tunnel was a reality, the real estate firm literally built half of Tsawwassen.
In a 2004 interview, George Hodgins remembered the potential he saw in the area prior to the tunnel being completed in 1959.
"I used to take the ferry, and at the time they were building the tunnel, I used to see those sections of the tunnel at the end of No. 5 Road. I decided when that tunnel is completed, they're going to have an influx of people, so I started buying more land," Hodgins said.
In a 1970 interview at his Tsawwassen office, Hodgins said when his development spirit descended upon Tsawwassen 15 years earlier, the area consisted mainly of summer cottages, some farms and a few permanent homes.
"Over the years we have been responsible in one way or another for 90 per cent of the Tsawwassen subdivisions put on the market," he said.
Hodgins was president of Century Holdings Ltd. as well as all its numerous affiliates and subsidiaries.
Over the subsequent years, the Century Group not only built key housing developments such as Pebble Hill, Centennial Tides and Imperial Village, it also constructed over 1,000 rental units in Ladner and Tsawwassen, including Century Village.
The company also owns the Tsawwassen Town Centre Mall, Harbourside Plaza, Coast Tsawwassen Inn and Century Square, although it didn't build the latter.
George Hodgins was 81 when he passed away in 2007. By then, his son Sean, now 45, had already taken over as president.
A disciple of the new urbanism movement, Sean Hodgins has been pitching an innovative proposal for the company's Southlands property that combines different forms of housing with small-scale agriculture.
His latest scaled-down proposal, which includes 950 housing units and a large segment of the land donated to Delta for agricultural purposes, is to be presented at series of open houses in the coming weeks.
The Southlands has been one of the most contentious issues in South Delta over the years and some see the latest proposal as a comprise that could finally bring closure.
Another current application by the company is a commercial/residential proposal on 56th Street on the site formerly occupied by Southpointe Academy.
Sean Hodgins, a Tsawwassen resident, has also followed in his father's footsteps when it comes to Century Group being the most philanthropic company operating in South Delta. Over the years the contributions have been many and significant.
Just one example was George Hodgins' purchase of a gravel pit, owned by the Kirkland brothers, and donating it to the municipality as a park, now known as Diefenbaker Park.
The Hodgins family is also well known for its major contributions to Delta Hospital.
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