Two separate Development Applications have been submitted for a pair of projects between University Dr & City Parkway and 105 Ave & 105A Ave, just to the south of the BC Lions Training facility.
According to Surrey’s COSMOS, the application on the westerly block is to allow for 873 residential units (approximately 2 towers above podiums), while the application on the easterly block is to also allow for 2 towers above podiums with no unit count given. The applications are also proposing OCP and City Centre Plan amendments to re-designate the sites from 3.5 FAR to 5.5 FAR to allow for increased density. Interestingly, the applicant on the easterly site is listed as Concord Pacific – indicating a new venture for them in Surrey City Centre, to follow their existing ‘Park’ development near King George. The applicant on the westerly site is listed as IBI Group, although the applications could be related.
The subject sites have been vacant grassed lots for decades, and are bisected by the SkyTrain guideway between Surrey Central Station and Gateway Station. While the area may feel vacant now, just to the south across 105 Avenue, Bosa’s 28 & 37-storey University District towers are expected to begin construction within the next year. Also just to the north at City Parkway and 106 Avenue, Lark Group’s 20-story Legion Veteran’s Village project is now under construction.
With yesterday’s Mayors Council vote in favour of finalizing the business case for the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain project, it is now certain that SkyTrain will be extended along Fraser Highway, but only as far as Fleetwood within the foreseeable future. As expected, the 1.65 billion in funding currently secured for rapid transit in Surrey will only allow for a 7km / 4 station extension of the Expo Line from King George Station to 166 Street, not to be in service until the end of 2025. With no funding secured, and no timeline in place for a phase 2 extension to Langley, it’s unlikely that SkyTrain will reach Langley before the 2030’s.
Given the decision to go ahead with SkyTrain on Fraser Highway, Surrey’s most urban corridors of 104 Ave and King George Blvd serving the 2 largest Town Centres of Guildford and Newton will likely now see no rapid transit for the next decade, due to the limited 3.55 billion funding envelope (with 1.9 billion yet to be secured) for rapid transit South of the Fraser. This funding envelope would have provided Surrey 27km of LRT across the city, including both the Guildford-City Centre-Newton ‘L’ line, and Fraser Hwy line to Langley. With SkyTrain, Surrey will just receive a single 16.5km line down Fraser Highway instead, along a corridor much more suburban in form, and with much less opportunity for land assembly to higher densities to support a SkyTrain line.
While rapid transit to Langley is definitely a good thing, the reality of the line not likely reaching Langley until the 2030’s, while rapid transit elsewhere in Surrey is stalled, is very unfortunate when Surrey could have had a full 19-Stop (27km) LRT system across the City inclusive of Langley within the same timeframe as an 8-Stop (16.5km) SkyTrain line. LRT additionally would have transformed, urbanized, and distinguished Surrey in ways that SkyTrain will not. LRT and trams are common fixtures and symbols of inner urban cores in major cities around the world, of which Metro Vancouver currently lacks. Cities such as Berlin, with robust multi-tiered rail transit networks, are embarking on major expansions of their LRT networks, on top of their existing metro rail networks. LRT would have urbanized and distinguished Surrey as a city on its own, as an inner core of the region. With SkyTrain, Surrey remains similar to Burnaby, a by-pass suburb along the line to Vancouver. This is not to mention, the negative effects of SkyTrain on the streetscape – obtrusive overhead guideways that cast shadows, are noisy, unsightly, and ultimately very suburban in nature, compared to urbanized street-integrated LRT which can transform a city and its streetscapes.
It’s hard to imagine rationalizing a 4-station SkyTrain extension to suburban Fleetwood over an 11-station LRT line servicing Surrey’s most urban corridors and largest Town Centres, but here we are. Ultimately once the line does reach Langley in the 2030’s it will help to move people through the region, benefit Surrey’s City Centre (although with less new stations), and those living near the line, but at the expense of what could have been a much more extensive rapid transit system, more urbanizing, distinguishing, and transformative for Surrey.
After nearly 2 years of construction, the new West Village Park and District Energy Centre officially opened last week in the rapidly growing West Village neighbourhood of City Centre. Located at the corner of Central Avenue & 133 Street, the new 0.7 Acre park was designed by Vancouver’s Space2Place Landscape Architects in conjunction with a community consultation process, and is one of 10 new parks planned for City Centre. The park includes a plaza, stage, green space, play area, benches, picnic tables, and a distinctive hexagon pattern of concrete, cork, and landscape beds. In addition to the park, a new segment of Central Avenue was opened, with a new sidewalk and dedicated bike lane (now standard on all newly constructed Collector and Arterial Roads in Surrey).
The main feature of the park is the new West Village Energy Centre, designed by Vancouver’s Francl Architecture, and complete with an art installation titled ‘Blankets’ on the building’s stacks. Operated by Surrey City Energy, the centre is the first of 3 District Energy Centres planned for City Centre, with the remaining two to be located near King George Station and Gateway Station in the future. These District Energy centres are intended to provide reliable, cost-competitive, and sustainable heat and hot water services to the City Centre’s growing high-density population. They work by distributing thermal energy, typically in the form of hot water through a network of closed-loop underground pipes to individual customer buildings. As new developments come on-line, they can connect to the District Energy System for their heating and hot water services.
A new application (19-0095) has been submitted for a mixed-use project near Gateway Station at 10925 University Drive. According to application details, the applicant is seeking to Rezone and Subdivide the site into 2 new parcels to allow for approximately 500 residential units and 1580m2 (17,000 sq.ft.) of office space within 1 mid-rise and 1 high-rise building.
The subject site is currently made up of 2 existing lots adjacent to the 22-storey ‘Observatory’ condo tower built in 1995. The site was originally intended for a twin of that tower back in the 90’s – similar to the ‘Cornerstone 1 & 2’ towers just to the south – but the project never completed. The site has since sat vacant for over 2 decades now. This new proposal will also include in the site area an existing single family lot fronting 133A Street.
As per the City Centre Plan, the site is currently designated ‘High-Rise 5.5 FAR (with 20% allowable increase to 6.6 FAR)’. It is located directly across University Drive from the currently in-process application (18-0388) which is proposing a pair of 28 & 30 Storey residential towers.
Nearly 3 years since construction began, SFU’s new Sustainable Energy & Environmental Engineering Building officially opened today. The opening was marked with a ceremony attended by BC’s premier John Horgan, MLA’s and other guests. The 5-storey, 220,000 sq.ft. building, designed by Vancouver’s late Bing Thom, has already become a new landmark redefining the Surrey Central area.
As just the first phase in a three-phase expansion plan for SFU in Surrey City Centre, the new building will accommodate 440 full-time students, and be home to SFU’s Mechatronics Systems Engineering (MSE) program with additional space for SFU’s Technology Entrepreneurship program.
In addition to the building itself, the development has contributed to a new high quality streetscape along University Drive with grade-separated bike lanes, benches, and a temporary corner park at 102 Avenue. The grassed corner will remain until 102A Avenue is eventually re-aligned through that space and the Surrey Central Bus Loop, as per the City Centre Plan.
A proposal to revitalize the North Surrey Medical Building at 9656 King George Blvd in the emerging Health & Technology District is heading to Council on Monday for 1st & 2nd Readings. The project, by Vancouver’s Rize Alliance, is seeking to restore and integrate the 1960’s North Surrey Medical Building on site into a new mixed-use development consisting of a new 4-storey office and retail podium along King George Blvd, and a new 31-storey residential tower behind. The project was first reported on here back in February when it passed ADP.
According to the Planning Report to Council, the application is seeking both OCP and City Centre Plan amendments for increased density from 3.5 FAR to 5.5 FAR to allow for the proposed development. In exchange for the increased density, the project is proposing to preserve and revitalize the 1960’s North Surrey Medical Building on-site under a Heritage Revitalization Agreement. In total the project is to contain:
293 Apartment Units
5 Townhouse Units
34,369 sq.ft.sq.ft. of Commercial Space with within the revitalized North Surrey Medical Building and new adjacent 4-storey podium (including ground floor retail along King George Blvd)
A landscaped courtyard designed by Vancouver’s PWL Partnership will separate the residential and commercial portions of the project. The Architect on the project is Stantec.
In addition to the revitalization of the North Surrey Medical Building, the applicant will be providing community amenity contributions including funding towards enhancements to Quibble Creek in the area. Contributions will also be provided for construction of a new east-west lane to the directly adjacent north of the site in the future, and towards the City’s Affordable Housing Strategy.