City Centre 3 breaks ground in new Health & Technology District

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Lark Group held a ground breaking ceremony yesterday for their next phase in the Health & Technology District – City Centre 3. The new 10-storey office building will be the latest in a series of 8 planned buildings for the district, home to a network of academics, entrepreneurs, multinational companies, start-ups, and some of the most advanced digital health, wellness, technology, and clinical service organizations in the world.

Situated directly across the street from Surrey Memorial Hospital at 96 Avenue and 137A Street, the tower will contain offices, retail and restaurant services, state-of-the-art fitness facilities, secure underground parking, and a common area rooftop terrace. Completion is expected by 2021.

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The ground breaking ceremony held was attended by the newly elected Mayor Doug McCallum, as well as a number of Councillors, representatives from Lark Group, and business leaders involved in the Health & Technology District. While McCallum recognized in his speech that the District is playing “a major contributing role to the economic growth of Surrey” – he of course failed to recognize that due to his direction, the district will no longer be receiving a rapid transit station as was planned for 96 Avenue with LRT. It’s unfortunate that this significant and growing employment, research, and medical hub will now continue to be serviced by a small bus stop at 96 Avenue and King George Blvd so that SkyTrain can be built along Fraser Hwy serving low density suburban neighbourhoods instead.

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Formerly planned rapid transit station at 96 Avenue in the Health & Technology District that will no longer be built
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Health & Technology District bus stop that will remain as a result of switch to SkyTrain on Fraser Hwy instead

The Health and Technology District is being developed by Lark Group in anticipation of the rapidly growing health and technology sector in B.C. The District has already attracted a large number of innovative health, education and technology organizations to its first 2 buildings – City Centre 1 & 2 – and is becoming a new epicentre for BC’s emerging technology economy.

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View of Health & Technology District along 96 Avenue
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City Centre 3 at 96 Avenue & 137A Street
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Looking north along 137A Street

Rendering released for upcoming tower in West Village

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Rendering of proposed tower from 133A St

Mason Link Development has released a rendering of one of their upcoming projects in City Centre at 133A St & Central Avenue (future). The tower, which is not yet under application (but should be soon), is to be located just behind the new SFU building, replacing some of the last remaining single family homes in the area, and closing the last remaining portion of former 103 Avenue.

In the rendering released, a 26-storey tower is depicted above a townhouse podium fronting 133A St. At the north end of the site, there will be some dedication for the new alignment of Central Avenue. This corner is designated for mixed-use under the City Centre Plan – so retail is possible on the Central Avenue frontage. To the south of the site, there are plans for a covered bus layover facility – which when complete – will allow for the removal of the Surrey Central Bus Loop and re-development of the ‘Central Block’ where the Rec Centre and Bus Loop currently sit. To the east of the site is the currently under construction Prime on the Plaza, and new north-south green lane.

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Subject Site within City Centre Plan
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Conceptual plan for ‘Centre Block’ area showing future Covered Bus Layover Facility and Subject Site

While an application has yet to be submitted, the subject site has been fenced off for a number of months now, with Mason Link signage posted. If an application is submitted within the next year, sales / construction can be expected to commence sometime in the early 2020’s.

Rize Alliance submits application for new 1,070 unit development on Whalley Blvd

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Rize Alliance, the developer behind Wave and the recently released Linea, has submitted an application for their next development in City Centre. Located at 10138 Whalley Blvd just south of 102 Avenue, the project would replace an existing 3-storey walk-up apartment complex built in the 1970’s.

While not many details have been released so far, what is known is that the project is to contain 1,070 units – likely within 2-3 towers above a mixed-use podium base. The subject site is currently designated ‘Residential Mid to High Rise 3.5 FAR’ in the City Centre Plan, and is located just to the south of Anthem Properties ‘Georgetown‘ development, which recently received 3rd reading for phase 1 its 7-tower master-planned community.

The new Rize application is currently under initial review at the City of Surrey. More details can be expected once the project proceeds to Council.

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Subject Site containing an existing 3-storey apartment complex
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Subject site containing an existing 3-storey apartment complex
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Subject site within City Centre Plan

 

City Centre 2 opens in Health & Technology District

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Lark Group’s City Centre 2 held its grand opening today following the completion of the 185,000 square-foot, 12-storey LEED Gold certified office building. City Centre 2 is the second of 8 phases in Lark Group’s vision for an emerging Health & Technology District also referred to as ‘Innovation Boulevard’ just to the north of Surrey Memorial Hospital.

Anchoring City Centre 2 will be Surrey-based Safe Software, who will occupy the top five floors of the tower. Their brand new office space includes a state-of-the-art 4,000 square-foot cafeteria, a 6,000 square-foot roof-top garden terrace and green space with a multi-level deck and walking path, a well as a fully equipped fitness centre and amenities for their employees. Illuminated signage for Safe Software was installed on the top of the tower earlier this year.

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In a speech at today’s opening ceremony, Lark Group president Larry Fisher indicated that construction could be underway on City Centre 3 as early as this summer.

LRT showcase brings prototype train display to Surrey

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Numerous community and business leaders joined Mayor Linda Hepner today to launch an 8-week LRT showcase, offering residents a first glimpse at Surrey’s future LRT. As part of the showcase, a prototype LRT train car has been brought in from Europe and put on display in the Central City parking lot next to King George Blvd. It will remain there for the next couple of weeks before being relocated to Newton Town Centre, Guildford Town Centre, and finally the Surrey Canada Day celebration in Cloverdale.

The goal of the showcase is to give residents a first-hand look at what the urban-style LRT train will look like. Unlike high-floor commuter-type LRT trains like those in Calgary and Edmonton, Surrey’s LRT will be low-floored, similar to those found in many cities throughout Europe, and even Toronto. Despite being more integrated with the urban environment, the trains will nonetheless run on a dedicated right-of-way, apart from traffic, offering significant improvement over a bus – not only in speed, but also through more consistent/reliable schedules, frequency, capacity, boarding doors, and comfort. It is important to point out that the particular train car brought in for display is just a prototype, and the actual trains chosen for the Surrey line, will likely look a bit different.

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LRT was chosen as the mode of choice for rapid transit in Surrey following years of study that began as far back as 2010. Numerous options, and combinations were looked at including LRT, SkyTrain, and Bus Rapid Transit. The results found LRT to be the most cost effective system for Surrey – with 27km of LRT track (2 lines) able to be built for the same $2.2 billion price tag as 16km of SkyTrain (1 line). Surrey gets a more extensive rail transit network, better integrated with the community, creating more pedestrian-orientated streetscapes, with LRT. Further, operating costs for LRT were found to be $6 million cheaper annually, with negligible differences in travel times.

Since securing funding back in March, the first phase of Surrey’s LRT network – the Guildford-City Centre-Newton line – is now on track to begin construction by late 2019 and be in service by 2024.

For more on Surrey’s LRT project:
https://surreylightrail.ca

For a detailed look at the Surrey Rapid Transit Study:
https://surreylightrail.ca/Documents/Surrey_Rapid_Transit_Study_%20Alternatives_Analysis_Findings.pdf

For an infographic of the findings of the Rapid Transit Study:
https://surreylightrail.ca/Documents/surrey_rapid_transit_study_infographic.pdf

Whalley Legion redevelopment ‘Veterans Village’ gets another redesign

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View looking south-east at corner of City Parkway and new 106A Ave

New renderings were released this week of Lark Group’s upcoming ‘Veteran’s Village’ project – set to replace the existing Whalley Legion at 106 Ave & City Parkway. This latest design is the 4th redesign to be released publicly since the project was first announced back in 2015.

Design Progression

Initially, in 2015, the project was to feature twin towers resembling the Vimy Ridge Memorial in France. The design, by Michael Green Architecture, was noted to be conceptual at the time, and later proved to be a bit ambitious of an undertaking for the project.

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2015 design for Veterans Village

In late 2016, a new design was revealed for the project, scaling it back to a single building of lesser height, and less iconic of architecture, yet still featuring reference to the Vimy Ridge Memorial, and situated on a site surrounded by expansive plaza space.

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2016 design for a single tower project

A year later, in November 2017, an application was finally submitted for the project, but based on yet again, another redesign. This time, the project appeared to be scaled back even more. Much of the plaza space depicted in early designs had been eliminated, and the building’s architecture further simplified.

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2017 Rendering looking east from City Parkway

Now, as of April 2018, a radical redesign has been released, showing a return to a 2-tower project, with a much more iconic, urban, and architecturally forward design. The tower has retained its reference to the Vimy Ridge Memorial through a creatively designed facade, and now fills out the block that it occupies in a much more urban form. Wide sidewalks are depicted on both City Parkway and 106 Avenue with double rows of boulevard trees – in what looks to be intended as a quasi plaza space at the base of the tower, integrated with the sidewalk. The tower heights have also changed – with the main tower depicted at 21 storeys and the tower behind at 27 storeys.

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2018 design for Veteran’s Village looking north-east at corner of City Parkway and 106 Ave
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Project location with City Centre Plan

With this return to a 2 tower design, it is unclear whether the 2nd tower is an envisioned 2nd phase – or if both will be built at the same time and also serve the same use purposes. From Lark Group’s website, the project is described as the first of its kind in Canada, and will be:

A multi-purpose facility designed as a centre of excellence in clinical and rehabilitation services for Veterans and first responders, with a mix of social and affordable housing.  It will include space for research and delivery of health care programs, services and trauma counselling to address issues like PTSD. It will also provide clinical spaces to advance evidence-based services and programming in health, science and engineering, including innovations in robotics, assistive devices and exoskeletons for injured Veterans and first responders.

With the latest rendering release, it appears the project is getting closer to its final design, and it’s likely that it could appear before Council for preliminary approval in the coming months. Based on this, the project is likely to begin construction sometime in 2019.