Trouble is easy to find at the intersection of King George Boulevard and 108 Avenue in Surrey, B.C.

The block is more gritty than pretty with sex shops, a marijuana paraphernalia store and a strip club.

Developer Charan Sethi wants to turn the block into Surrey's version of Yaletown. Over the next 10 to 12 years, he would replace existing businesses with condos, restaurants and shops.

"I'm a firm believer in building communities and we are heavily involved in the neighbourhood," Sethi said.

Charan Sethi

Developer Charan Sethi is working on a picture book to preserve Whalley's history. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

"I'm not here to build condos and go home. I'm here to make sure the area is respected and the history of the area is respected."

Sethi hopes to start construction this year on the first phase of his project, a condo tower on Whalley Boulevard and 108 Avenue.

He is also working on a picture book that tells the story of Whalley's history.

Long history

Sethi's vision doesn't come without a cost.

The Flamingo Hotel and bar, which will eventually be torn down to make way for development, has been a Whalley landmark for decades.

"The building itself was built in the early 50s and it was quite a swanky establishment at that time," said manager Mark Aylott.

Whalley development

The 4.3 acres that Charan Sethi owns is currently home to a tattoo parlour, sex shop and liquor store. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Over time, the Flamingo started to show its age.

In the 80s and 90s it became the kind of place where it was as easy to find a brawl as it was to find a beer.

Aylott says it's not as rough today as it was 10 years ago.

"It's almost come full circle now because with the new development comes gentrification," he said.

"There is a place for everybody, but it's just a matter of figuring that out."