Summer groundbreaking set for Cricket Square block

Cricket Square

Cricket Square builders Orchid Development will break ground this summer on the fifth and latest addition to the upmarket office park, demolishing the Rubis gas station on Shedden Road to make way for a new six-story building.

The as-yet-unnamed $20 million office block, which will encompass nearly 130,000 square feet, will cover the site adjacent to the phase four Willow House, which opened in 2012.

Construction on the new 85-foot-high building is likely to take two years and will also encompass the small auto body shops behind it, providing nearly 1,000 parking spaces.

Orchid Development will also pave the abandoned lot across the street for off-site parking. The Flowers family, owners of Orchid Development, owns the building’s one-acre plot, which was the location of its original block-building factory in 1946. The operation moved to Industrial Park 30 years ago, leaving the Shedden Road property vacant.

Orchid Development Managing Director Clarence “King” Flowers said he bought the new Cricket Square parcel, containing the gas station and the now-abandoned auto body shops, about six months ago.

“Everything is growing and we need more space,” he said. “We have not gone to market yet,” with the new building, he added, but “we’re working on it.”

The family of the late Derek Wight was the original owner of the site. Eldest son Michael said the $2 million sale to Mr. Flowers came about because his family saw an opportunity to realize a profit from a fallow piece of real estate.

“We owned it for quite awhile, 30 years, 40 years,” he said, “and there was always a [gas] station there, at first Texaco and then Rubis. There was always a garage there.”

Selling it “was something we had talked about for quite a while,” Mr. Wight said. “We didn’t operate the station or anything, so it was a property without much use, and we were not going to use it or develop it in the near future.

“The Flowers family had been after it for about 20 years; they always intended to do Cricket Square, and they’ve done a really good job. It’s going to be something really good and that was part of the discussion,” he said.

Mr. Flowers said the company is still negotiating tenancies and has not completed arrangements for the project, but demolition is roughly scheduled for sometime after June 30, and that “if it all comes together,” construction could begin shortly afterward.

According to Planning Department documents, the structure will be a “similar design of the existing office buildings at Cricket Square,” which was created in 1994, and now, with the new building, will cover 15.5 acres.

Plans call for a pedestrian crosswalk linking the lot across the street to the new development.

The Rubis station has been at its Shedden Road location for nearly 40 years, initially under the Texaco brand until late 2011.

Since July 2014 the Rubis station has been leased to and operated by Wayne Kirkconnell, whose family also owns the Rubis station at the corner of West Bay Road and Lawrence Boulevard. They took over the Seven Mile Beach location a few months ago, he said.

“I’m about 40 years old,” Mr. Kirkconnell said, “and the Shedden Road station has been there as long as I can remember.” The demolition, he said, “is unfortunate. It’s a nice area with a lot of business, with good demand. But this is progress.”

He said the station is unlikely to be relocated or rebuilt in another location. Since he leases the business from Rubis, Mr. Kirkconnell said he is not likely to gain any compensation for its loss. Rubis said it has not decided what might happen.

“At the moment,” said Rubis Head of Finance Henrico Duplessis, “the land is there and we simply lease it; we don’t own it. We were told at the beginning of the year that the ownership had changed, but the new owners have not said when they want to move ahead.”

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