Central City II to proceed to Public Hearing

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After being referred back to Staff by Council on September 16 due to a misunderstanding over building height, Central City II returned to Council tonight to receive 1st & 2nd Readings and the OK to proceed to Public Hearing in 2 weeks. No changes were made to the proposal, which will proceed based on its original 25-storey (382′) height. The re-introduced planning report included better contextual information to help convey to the Mayor and Council how the building will fit into the surrounding area, as well as the sheer volume of office space it will contain given its large floor plate. The Mayor and Council had previously sent the application back to staff, having thought the tower would be shorter than the 35-Storey residential towers across the street at King George. McCallum’s arguments included:

  • “This is not a highrise development”
  • “Twenty-five storeys in our City Centre is way too low.”
  • “The towers at King George Station across the street are taller”
  • “We have only a certain amount of land in our City Centre and it’s really important to make sure we use that land appropriately”

In reality, the 25-Storey office tower would be slightly taller than the 35-storey residential tower across the street due to differences between residential and office floor heights. Central City 2 is proposed at 382 ft. while the Infinity tower at Concord Park Place is 377 ft. Further, if Central City II were built today, it would be the 3rd tallest building in Surrey after 3 Civic Plaza (538 ft.) and Park Avenue West (393 ft.). This would not be the case for long however, with 3 other towers currently under construction exceeding the height of Central City 2. Once those are completed, Central City 2 would be the 6th tallest in Surrey, yet still at comparable height to others in the top 5.

  • 3 Civic Plaza (538 ft.)
  • One Central (438 ft.)
  • Park Boulevard (407 ft.)
  • King George Hub B1 (404 ft.).
  • Park Avenue West (393 ft.)
  • Central City II (382 ft.)
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Comparison of Surrey’s tallest towers (built & under construction) with Central City II

Height aside, the sheer volume of office space to be provided by the building will bring a significant boost to the City Centre, where demand is currently high, and vacancy low. Central City 2 is to contain 567,114sq.ft. of class AAA commercial office space, when currently there is a total of just 1.2 million in the entire City Centre. That’s adding half the current amount of office space in City Centre in a single building. In addition, the building is to contain 16,168 sq.ft. of ground floor retail and restaurant space in its large podium spanning an entire city block. A market analysis commissioned by the developer found the amount of proposed space to be adequate in meeting current demand in City Centre.

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Central City 2 (far right) along with conceptual future redevelopment of mall site
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Model of Central City 2 along with conceptual future redevelopment of mall site

More information on the proposal can be found in the planning report below:

https://www.surrey.ca/bylawsandcouncillibrary/PLR_7918-0428-00(1).pdf

25-Storey ‘Central City II’ Office Tower heads to Council

The much anticipated ‘Central City II’ office tower will appear before Surrey Council on Monday for 1st & 2nd readings, as part of the first Council meeting since the summer break. Designed by ZGF Architects, the 25-storey (116.5m / 382 ft.) building will be the successor to the iconic Bing Thom designed ‘Central City I’, built in 2003, and bring much needed new office space to Surrey City Centre. Taking design cues from the original tower, while at the same time having its own distinctive architectural expression, the new building will be located just to the south-east of Central City I at the corner of King George Blvd and Old Yale Rd.

In all, the building is proposed to include:

  • 567,114 sq.ft. of AAA Office Space and Fitness Club on levels 2-25
  • 16,168 sq.ft. of ground-oriented retail, restaurant, and cafe space
  • Landscaped roof terraces on levels 3, 5, 10, 21, and 24
  • A new dedication of City Parkway
  • A new private east-west lane along the north side of the building connecting City Parkway to King George Blvd
  • Plazas and Separated Bike Lanes surrounding the building along King George Blvd, Old Yale Rd, and City Parkway
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View looking South along SkyTrain Guideway
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View Looking South-West along King George Blvd
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View looking North-West at corner of King George Blvd & Old Yale Rd
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South and East Elevations
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West and North Elevations

In terms of design, the building consists of a 25-storey tower with distinctive rust-toned metal panels, above a stepped podium, transitioning to different floor plates at levels 3, 5, 10, 21, and 24. The tower maintains a rounded rectangular form above the podium levels, before transitioning to an elliptical shape – similar to ‘Central City I’ at level 21. Above level 25, the vertical fins extend the curtain wall and frame an additional 2 storeys to conceal the rooftop mechanical equipment, and give the building a 27-storey appearance. The fins also provide space for signage, shown in renderings provided by ZGF, with the Central City logo, similar to the original tower. The bulk of the building’s massing is oriented towards King George Blvd and anchored to Old Yale Rd, creating a strong urban street wall and presence. The building tapers down towards the west, with its 4-storey podium extending to City Parkway, and the SkyTrain guideway.

The main entrance to the building will front onto a new public plaza along Old Yale Rd. This plaza will extend around the building on 3 sides, with retail, restaurant, and cafe space spilling out to activate frontages along City Parkway and King George Blvd. The south-west corner of the site at Old Yale Rd and City Parkway has been identified as a location for a future significant public art piece, subject to separate public art plan process.

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Ground floor Site Plan
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Landscaped outdoor terrace on Level 3
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Landscaped outdoor terrace on Level 5
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Landscaped outdoor terrace on Level 10
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Landscaped outdoor terrace on Level 21

Replacing the former Best Buy store at the corner of the existing mall parking lot, Central City II represents just phase 1 of a master redevelopment plan for the remainder of the Central City Shopping Centre site. More details of that plan will come through future development applications for subsequent phases. Earlier this year, the mall’s owner Blackwood Partners announced plans for a 1.5 storey addition to the existing parkade along University Drive which is expected to get underway in the coming months. Upon completion, this will allow for the closure of rooftop parking above parts of the existing mall along Old Yale Rd and eventual redevelopment of the site across from Holland Park.

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North Surrey Rec Centre to close for ‘Centre Block’ redevelopment

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A date has finally been set for the official closure of the North Surrey Recreation Centre to make way for the site’s long anticipated redevelopment. In a notice posted on the recreation centre website, the facility is planned to close in 2 phases beginning with a decommissioning of the ice rinks in early September, and finally a closure of the remaining portions of the building on December 22. Ice rink programming will move to the new North Surrey Sport & Ice Complex, set to open on September 3 near Scott Road Station. Following that in January, Aquatics programs will move to Guildford Recreation Centre, fitness and multi-purpose activities to North Surrey Sport & Ice Complex, and preschool programs to Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre.

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New North Surrey Sport & Ice Complex

While no timeline has been given for the site’s redevelopment following decommissioning, behind-the-scenes planning work has been underway for years, dating back to 2012. Since then, the City has been working with Simon Fraser University, TransLink, and various architects, planners, and consultants, on a master plan for what is known as the ‘Centre Block’ bounded by Central Avenue to the north, 102 Avenue to the south, University Drive to the west, and City Parkway to the east. Well-positioned adjacent to Surrey Central SkyTrain Station, the site forms a key link between Surrey City Hall / Civic Plaza to the north, and the Central City Complex and beyond to the south.

Back in 2013, Via Architecture prepared a ‘vision’ for what redevelopment could look like in the future. The concept envisioned a numerous mixed-use buildings for the site integrated with a transit-oriented plaza linking City Hall to Central City. The buildings would contain office, university, and retail space. The plan also envisioned:

  • A new bus layover facility to be located on 133A St behind the new SFU Engineering building.
  • A removal and re-configuring of the Surrey Central Bus Exchange – replacing the loop with a new street-oriented exchange along a realigned 102A Avenue and Central Avenue. The 2 streets would be integrated with a new Transit Plaza, designed to accommodate high pedestrian and bus passenger volumes.
Centre Block location between Civic Plaza and Central City
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Early vision for the Centre Block prepared by Via Architecture in 2013

Since the early Via Architecture vision, a more recent planning process has been underway following a Surrey City Development Corp (SCDC) RFP was filled seeking a new firm to undertake detailed master planning work for the Centre Block site. While no plans have been publicly released yet, what is expected is a major overhaul of Surrey Central Station linked with a new transit-oriented plaza connecting Civic Plaza to Central City, and integrated with over 2 million square feet of new office, university, and retail space. With such a large scale, the plan is expected to be completed in phases, with various puzzle pieces and phasing needing to take place before other phases can begin. The first of those pieces is the decommissioning and demolition of the North Surrey Recreation Centre. The second will be the construction of the new bus layover facility on 133 Street, allowing for removal of the current Bus Loop, and re-alignment of 102A Avenue through it.

With the North Surrey Rec Centre decommissioning now in sight, the pieces are finally coming together to make the Centre Block redevelopment a reality. While the project is likely to take at least a decade to build-out, we could see the start of application activity related to it in the coming year.

For more on the North Surrey Recreation Centre closing:

https://www.surrey.ca/bylawsandcouncillibrary/CR_2019-R133.pdf

Concord Pacific an applicant in pair of submissions for towers on 105 Ave

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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.

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Site looking north-east from University Dr & 105 Ave
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Site looking south-east from University Dr & 105A Ave
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Site looking south from 105A Ave
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Site looking south-west from 105A Ave & City Parkway
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Site looking north from 105 Ave
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Site’s within City Centre Plan
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Birds-eye view of Sites

‘North Surrey Medical’ Heritage Revitalization heads to Council

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)

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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.

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For more information on the project:

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