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BC Rail's new role as real-estate developer is evident in the latest retail project in Squamish. In the past five years BC Rail Properties, a subsidiary of the BC Railway Company has moved from merely managing BC Rail's substantial land holdings to operating as a full service real estate company. BC Rail Properties' first retail development is currently under construction in Squamish, across Cleveland Avenue from McDonald’s on Highway 99. Christened Squamish Station, the 61,400 square foot retail centre should be completed by fall of 1997. Most stores will be in place before that, however. An A&W restaurant opened on the weekend, and a White Spot is slated to open in late July. The main draw to the shopping centre will be an IGA Plus food store, which will move into 20,000 square feet of space in November. Starbucks has also signed a lease and will open and outlet in September. With more than 15,000 cars driving past the intersection in Squamish every day, the new development is designed to attract tourists as well as residents. Since BC Rail also owns a sizeable chunk of land in downtown Squamish, "our goal is not to compete with the businesses downtown," said Mary Cue, development manager of BCRP. "We would just be hurting ourselves. The new development will complement downtown but not take away from the charm of downtown. I see them as two different attractions. " BCRP manages over 100,000 acres of BC Rail Land, including 20,000 acres marked for investment and development purposes. The BC Rail Crown Corporation owns valuable development land in the Sea to Sky corridor, from Pemberton down to Squamish. Its entire land portfolio in the Squamish area amounts to $40 million. Most of BC Rail's land are long-term holdings dating from when the railroad was built, and 80 per cent is not developable. BCR Properties owns land along all four of Whistler's lakes and to the north of Whistler, adjacent to the municipal boundaries. BCRP is now in discussion with the Whistler municipality to develop their lands in Whistler, but has not come up with specifics. BCRP's next plan is to develop a concept similar to the Squamish retail mall in Williams Lake. There are other properties in downtown Squamish which Cue says are ripe for redevelopment, as well as properties in Pemberton.

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