West Village Park & District Energy Centre Open

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.

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Plaza looking west from 133 St
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Looking East towards West Village Park greenspace
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West Village Energy south facade featuring art installation ‘Blankets’ on building stacks
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Looking East on Central Avenue
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Looking East into interior of West Village Energy Centre
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Newly constructed Central Avenue half-road
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Looking west into interior of West Village Energy Centre
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West Village Energy Centre entrance
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Greenspace and picnic area
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Greenspace, plaza, and seating area
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Greenspace and seating area

New application submitted for mixed-use project at Gateway

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.

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Subject site – vacant land next to existing condo towers built in 1990’s
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Looking south towards subject site
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Looking north-west towards subject site
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Subject site within City Centre Plan

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.

For more on the application:

https://apps.surrey.ca/Online-Development-Inquiry/?year=19&seq=0095

SFU Sustainable Energy & Environmental Engineering Building Opens

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.

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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.

 

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Current temporary corner park at 102 Avenue & University Dr
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Future re-alignment of 102A Avenue

For more on the new SFU building:

http://www.sfu.ca/sfunews/stories/2019/04/sfu-opens-new-sustainable-building-as-first-phase-of-surrey-camp.html

Public Consultation to Begin for Surrey Langley SkyTrain and South Fraser Rapid Transit Refresh

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Public consultation is set to get underway this month for the proposed Surrey Langley SkyTrain (SLS) extension, as well as the future of rapid transit along 104 Avenue & King George Blvd.

In 2014, the regional Mayors Council identified Fraser Highway, King George Boulevard, and 104 Avenue as priority corridors for rapid transit South of the Fraser in the 10-Year Vision. Following a study looking at combinations of SkyTrain, LRT, and Bus Rapid Transit for the corridors, the Mayors Council decided on 27-km of urban-style LRT on dedicated track (separate from traffic) on each of the corridors to be built over 2 phases:

  • Phase 1: Surrey-Newton-Guildford Line on 104 Avenue & King George Boulevard
  • Phase 2: Surrey-Langley Line on Fraser Highway

With funding in place to cover the entire first phase, and construction set to begin this year – a last minute request was made in 2018 by Surrey’s new Council to the regional Mayors’ Council to suspend the Phase 1 Surrey-Newton-Guildford LRT line and re-direct funding to the Phase 2 Surrey-Langley line instead, while switching the technology of the Phase 2 line to SkyTrain. The Mayors’ Council voted to move forward with this request, and directed TransLink to begin planning work for SkyTrain on Fraser Highway while at the same time re-visit rapid transit plans for 104 Avenue and King George Boulevard corridors.

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Proposed Surrey Langley SkyTrain route and conceptual stations

The switch of priorities to the Phase 2 Fraser Highway line and changing its technology to SkyTrain has had implications both in budget and timeline. The funding that was allocated for the full Phase 1 Surrey-Newton-Guildford LRT line has been identified as inadequate to fund the entire Fraser Highway SkyTrain extension to Langley. Pending a future round of funding (timeline unclear), the line may have to be phased, with the current funding getting the line potentially only as far as Fleetwood. Start of construction and delivery of new rapid transit South of the Fraser is also now delayed by approximately 2 years as a result of the switch.

Despite the funding and timeline uncertainties, planning work is nonetheless well underway for the new SLS line, which will need to involve a significant re-evaluation of land-use plans along the Fraser Highway corridor to support SkyTrain, completion of a number of supportive studies, and extensive Public Consultation. In a project update report to Surrey Council this week – a preliminary timeline was given for this work by TransLink, with start of service targeted for 2025.

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To run concurrently with the SLS planning and consultation work will be a planning process to ‘refresh’ the South Fraser Rapid Transit Strategy for delivering the Mayors’ Council fully envisioned 27km of Rapid Transit along each of the Fraser Hwy, King George Blvd, and 104 Ave corridors. This refresh will look to re-examine and engage the public on what rapid transit along the remaining corridors could look like, now that SkyTrain has been chosen as the technology for Fraser Hwy. The 2013 Rapid Transit Alternatives Study identified Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) for these corridors based on a scenario with SkyTrain on Fraser Hwy. With much LRT planning work having now been completed however, for the 104 Ave and King George Blvd corridors, it’s possible that LRT could still be an option for them rather than BRT, especially given Surrey’s long-term rapid transit vision for an extensive LRT network on major arterials across the City.

The first round of Public Consultation on the SLS line and South Fraser Rapid Transit refresh gets underway on April 11 in Langley, with open houses in Surrey on April 15, 16, and 17. TransLink has also recently launched an online survey where you can voice your feedback on the proposed SLS line. Open House times are set for the following dates and locations between 3-8pm:

  • Thursday, April 11 – Langley City Hall
  • Monday, April 15 – Surrey Sport & Leisure Complex (Fleetwood)
  • Tuesday, April 16 – Surrey City Hall
  • Wednesday, April 17 – Newton Seniors Centre

More info on the land-use planning review process for the Fraser Highway Corridor being undertaken by the City of Surrey can be found here: https://www.surrey.ca/bylawsandcouncillibrary/CR_2019-R059.pdf

Application submitted for mixed-use project on 104 Ave near Whalley Blvd

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A development application has been submitted for a new mixed-use project on 104 Ave near Whalley Blvd. The subject site is made up of 3 existing properties that span the block between 104 Ave and Central Ave just east of Whalley Blvd. The site is currently occupied by a run-down early 1970’s strip mall known as ‘Plaza 104’.

According to details of the development application, the applicant – Andrew Cheung Architects – is seeking to rezone the property and amend both the Official Community Plan and City Centre Plan for increased density from 3.5 FAR to 5.5 FAR to allow for a phased 1149 unit mixed-use development containing 10,720 sq.ft. of commercial space. This translates into approximately 3 high-rise residential towers above retail. In addition, the development would dedicate a new north-south road through the site, as well as 2 new lanes as per the City Centre Plan.

The current application is seeking a Development Permit for phase 1, which is to contain a single tower (383 units) and all 10,720 sq.ft. of commercial space on a newly subdivided parcel fronting 104 Avenue. The remaining phases of the project to the south would be subject to future applications.

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Site in context of the City Centre Plan showing future road and lane dedications
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Subject Site on 104 Avenue east of Whalley Blvd containing a 1970’s strip mall
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Birds-eye view of site looking south from 104 Ave

For more on the application: https://apps.surrey.ca/Online-Development-Inquiry/?year=19&seq=0060

Surrey Central Station expansion opens

After nearly 2 years of construction, the Surrey Central Station north station house expansion officially opened to the public this weekend. Designed by OMB Architects, the new 2-storey station house is now the largest entrance at the station, fronting directly onto the corner of Central Avenue and City Parkway across from Civic Plaza.

The new station house features a contemporary, open, and airy design consisting of glass, concrete, and wood materials, as well as a prominent new First Nations art installation suspended from the ceiling – ‘The Sea Captain’ by Marianne Nicolson. A new retail unit has also been added to the station next to the entrance fronting Central Avenue, but has yet to be occupied by a tenant.

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New entrance fronting Central Ave
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Corner of Central Ave & City Parkway
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Looking west down Central Avenue
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New entrance on City Parkway
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New entrance with bike racks and benches on City Parkway
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New ticket and fare gate concourse
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Fare gate concourse and art installation

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Escalator to second floor concourse

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2nd floor concourse
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Wayfinding signage on second floor concourse

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Connection to south station entrance
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New platform level stairs, escalator and elevator

This latest upgrade to Surrey Central Station is just the beginning of an even larger expansion and re-configuration to come in the future. The lands immediately west of the station, where the current North Surrey Recreation Centre and Bus Loop sit – known as the ‘Centre Block’ are expected to be redeveloped in the coming decade. With that will come the removal of the suburban-style bus loop and re-positioning of bus bays onto streets surrounding the station. A major overhaul of the station is expected at that time to modernize and better integrate it into its evolving urban context.