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.

Excavation begins for Linea

Excavation got underway this week for Rize Alliance’s 28-storey Linea at 104 Avenue and 133 Street. Linea is phase 2 to its predecessor and twin ‘Wave’ which was completed in 2015. Upon completion, both towers will stand at 28-storeys and feature the same signature curved balconies and orange accents.

In addition to the new tower, Linea will also improve the streetscapes along 133 Street and 104 Avenue with new street-oriented townhouses, add a common outdoor amenity area between the 2 towers, and create a new north-south lane to the east of the site. Completion is expected by early 2022.

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Linea site from Wave tower
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Linea site from 133 Street
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Rendering of Linea and Wave
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Ground level Site Plan of Wave and Linea site
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Rooftop Site Plan of Wave and Linea site

The year ahead – Surrey City Centre in 2019

Happy 2019! As we enter the new year, it’s time for this blog to take its annual look what’s ahead for development in Surrey City Centre over the coming year.

2018 in Review

New Construction

A total of 6 new projects began construction in 2018 – representing 5 high-rises (>6 storeys) and 3 low-rises (4-6 storey). These included:

  • Park Boulevard | Condo | 42 Storeys
  • King George Hub (Phase B) | Condo, Office, Retail | 15, 29 + 40 Storeys
  • City Centre 3 | Office, Retail | 10 Storeys
  • La Voda | Condo | 6 Storeys
  • Fraser Landmark | Condo | 6 Storeys
  • Maverick | Condo | 5 Storeys
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Park Boulevard under construction on Whalley Blvd
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King George Hub (Phase B) under construction at King George Blvd & Fraser Hwy

New Development Applications

Aside from new construction underway,  2018 saw a surge in new development applications. Looking back at the past 3 years, the number of new high-rise development applications submitted in 2018 was double that of 2017, and triple that of 2016. Overall, a total of 23 new applications were submitted in City Centre for both high-rise and low-rise development representing 21 high-rises (>6 storeys) and 10 low-rises (4-6 storeys)This is the highest number of development applications submitted in a single year in City Centre’s history, and included:

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Ahead in 2019

With the surge in new development applications in 2018, and many projects making it through the approvals process, 2019 and the next few years could bring record construction in City Centre. As we enter 2019, numerous projects are already in the marketing stage, and could begin construction by the end of the year, assuming market conditions remain favourable.

Potential Construction Starts 2019

  • One Central | Mixed-Use | 44 Storeys
  • Park George | Condo | 35 + 39 Storeys
  • University District (Phase 2) | Mixed-Use | 28 + 37 Storeys
  • King George Hub (Phase C) | Rental | 34 Storeys
  • Avani Centre | Hotel, Condo | 30 Storeys
  • Georgetown (Phase 1) | Mixed-Use | 30 Storeys
  • Linea | Condo | 28 Storeys
  • The Holland | Condo | 25 Storeys
  • Veterans Village (Phase 1) | Mixed-Use | 26 Storeys
  • Centra | Condo | 23 Storeys
  • Camilla Residences | Seniors Housing | 5 Storeys
  • 14008 108 Avenue | Condo | 5 Storeys
  • Parker by Mosaic | Condo | 4 Storeys

Aside from construction starts, the following projects are expected to complete in 2019:

Expected Construction Completions 2019

  • Prime on the Plaza| Mixed-Use | 37 Storeys
  • Evolve | Mixed-Use | 36 Storeys
  • SFU Sustainable Energy + Environmental Engineering Bldg | 5 Storeys
  • HQ by Porte| Condo | 6 Storeys
  • Aspire| Condo | 6 Storeys
  • Surrey Central SkyTrain North Station House
  • West Village Park + District Energy Centre
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Prime on the Plaza under construction at University Dr + Central Ave
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Evolve under construction at 133 St + Central Ave
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SFU Sustainable Energy + Environmental Engineering Building – set to open Fall 2019
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West Village Park + District Energy Centre
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Surrey Central SkyTrain – North Station House

New Development Applications in 2019

If the trend over the past 3 years is any indication, 2019 could be another strong year for development applications in City Centre. Many projects are known to be in the planning stages, but yet to submit applications. Will 2019 see a continued surge in development applications, a levelling off, or a slow down compared to 2018? We shall see over the next 12 months.

For more info on all active development applications in City Centre:

https://urbansurrey.com/surrey-city-centre-active-projects/

Council delays King George rental tower renewal project

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A proposal to revitalize an existing rental tower and create 63 new rental units at King George Blvd & 98th Avenue was stalled by Surrey’s new Council on Monday, after being denied 1st & 2nd readings for not looking satisfactory enough, in Council’s opinion. The application, which is proposing to convert an existing 3-storey commercial building on site to rental residential, and upgrade the exterior of the 18-storey tower behind it, was sent back to staff to work with the applicant on unspecified revisions.

Designed in partnership with MCM Architects and PWL Landscape Architects, the project would bring a welcome facelift to the existing buildings on site, originally completed in 1982, as well as improve the surrounding streetscape. Aside from aesthetic upgrades, the primary objective of the project is to create 63 new rental units on site through the conversion of the existing 3-storey commercial building along King George Blvd. Details of the proposed upgrades include:

  • Modernization and conversion of the existing low-rise commercial building to rental residential. Exterior cladding to be replaced with new materials consisting of high quality white fibre cement panels, and charcoal seam metal cladding.
  • Landscaping along King George Blvd enhanced and modified to suit residential use and layout
  • New plaza at the north-east corner of the site to help activate the streetscape along King George Blvd
  • The existing 18-storey tower to receive new exterior paint and glass balcony rail replacements with colour enhancements.
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Proposed exterior upgrades and residential conversion along King George Blvd
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Elevation of proposal looking north along King George Blvd

Despite the high quality materials proposed, and thoughtfully designed plan which works within the given site constraints, Council was of the opinion that the design was not suitable enough to be allowed to proceed. Without giving any specific recommendations on how to improve the design, the project was sent back to staff to work with the applicant on revisions to the plan, despite staff already working closely with the design team to date. The building’s modernization, and the delivery of new rental units to City Centre is now delayed pending unclear revisions, until the project can return to Council for consideration once again.

The conversion is supported by Surrey Staff as the existing commercial building has long suffered from poor vacancy rates and high tenant turn-over due to physical attributes of the building, and its poor integration with the neighbourhood. The proposed residential use is seen as appropriate for this location, being across from a SkyTrain station and the developing context of the area.

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Proposed site plan including public realm and streetscape enhancements

The Surrey Village Tower currently contains 227 rental units in the existing 18-storey tower, managed by RealStar. The addition of the proposed 63 new units would bring the total rental units to 290.