Development Application submitted for Central City 2

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Blackwood Partners has submitted a development application for the much anticipated Central City 2 office tower – proposed for the corner of King George Blvd and Old Yale Road on the site of a former Best Buy. The 25-storey tower designed by ZGF Architects is to be built to Class AAA and LEED Platinum standards and contain over 500,000 SF of office space, and 20,000 SF of ground level retail.

The proposed design of the tower has undergone considerable revision since first announced back in November 2017. The tower now features copper / reddish toned shading fins on its exterior, and a refined, more cohesive massing and podium. The tower also features expansive green roof decks, premium fitness facilities for office tenants, bike lockers, electric vehicle charging, high-speed elevators, and a ground level urban plaza, anchored by a restaurant, café, and retail.

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New plaza at corner of Old Yale Road & City Parkway
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Conceptual ground level floor plan
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Office tower views
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Premium fitness facilities for office tower tenants

Following the completion of the original Central City office tower and SFU campus back in 2003, Central City 2 will form the next phase of a long-term vision to redevelop the remainder of the Central City Shopping Centre site. While just conceptual at this point, the long-term plan would see the remaining parking lots to the north redeveloped with mixed-use development and new streets. The mall itself is envisioned to be reconfigured to include a number of new tower sites, and a large new plaza entrance fronting Holland Park on Old Yale Road – mirroring the existing Central City Plaza to the north and creating a connection through the mall linking the city’s civic core to Holland Park.

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Along with the recently submitted development application, Blackwood Partners has also now begun marketing the tower for lease, and will be opening a presentation centre in the Central City Shopping Centre in early 2019. The current leasing brochure can be found here.

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.

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.

New details released for ‘Central City 2’ office tower

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Blackwood Partners, have released new details on their upcoming ‘Central City 2’ office tower project at the corner of Old Yale Rd and King George Blvd. A new leasing brochure, available on the Central City website, provides some updated renderings, floorplans, and marketing information aimed at future tenants looking for office and retail space.

Since first being announced back in November 2017, the new renderings depict a re-designed, more refined tower, from that initially conceptualized. The new design features a stronger podium fronting Old Yale Rd and a more cohesive tower floor-plate and massing compared to the previous design. The rectangular floor plate blends into an elliptical floor plate on higher floors – referencing the existing 25-storey Central City office tower at 102 Ave & University Dr built in 2003.

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Conceptual rendering of tower podium and restaurant at corner of City Parkway and Old Yale Rd

Tower Details

Designed by Vancouver’s ZGF Architects, the project will be a 25-storey, Class AAA, mixed- use tower, containing 512,305 SF of commercial space and +/-20,000 SF of retail space contained within the podium. The ground level is conceptualized to contain 6 retail units, a restaurant, cafe, and office tower lobby, anchored to a prominent public plaza at the corner of Old Yale Rd and King George Blvd across from Holland Park and King George Station. The building will be built to LEED GoldDesign (with a pathway to Platinum), and also contain:

  • Premium end-of-trip facilities, with ample bicycle storage, executive bicycle lockers, shower, and change facilities
  • Approximately 900 underground parking stalls
  • High-speed state-of-the-art elevators
  • Electric vehicle charging stations and car share parking spaces.
  • Numerous other advanced technology features
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Conceptualized ground-level floor plan
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Artistic rendering of views from higher-level office floors
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Artistic rendering of roof-top views overlooking Holland Park
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Artistic rendering of fitness facilities for office employees

Long-term plan

Also released as part of the leasing brochure is a glimpse at the long-range plan for redevelopment of the entire Central City site following Central City 2. This plan will see much of the existing indoor shopping centre retained but renovated, with the introduction of a new prominent plaza at its south-end along Old Yale Rd, linking the shopping centre directly onto Holland Park. The existing parking lot along King George Blvd is envisioned to be broken up into a series of new city blocks, containing mixed-use high-rise development sites. A re-aligned City Parkway will connect directly through the site from the north, past a new entry plaza where Wal-Mart currently exists.

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While no target dates have been given for completion of Central City 2 – it is expected that a development application will be submitted for the project in the near future. The long-range plan for Central City is expected to play out over the next decade or longer. For more on Central City 2:

http://www.centralcity.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Tower-2-at-Central-City-Brochure-April-2018.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.

New renderings released for Whalley District

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New renderings have been released by Adessa Visuals of Tien Sher Group’s upcoming Whalley District near 108th & King George Blvd. The 3-tower project which currently has preliminary approval, is expected to begin on its first phase – a 35-storey condo tower + 6-storey condo low rise with retail at grade – later this year.

Adessa Visuals specializes in creating photo-realistic architectural renderings for projects across Metro Vancouver. These latest renderings help to bring the project to life and visualize the finished product. From the renderings, it is clear to see how transformative of a project this will be for the area of 108th & King George Blvd – which has become notoriously run-down in recent decades. In addition to condos, the project will also bring retail, community arts space, and an outdoor plaza.

This development will add to developer Tien Sher Group growing number of buildings in the area, having already built the 5-storey Quattro buildings across the street on Whalley Blvd, and set to begin on another 5-storey project across from the site at Whalley Blvd & Grosvenor Rd by next year. Whalley District will be phased, starting with the 35-storey tower at the east end of the site, and then working west to complete the 37-storey, and finally 46-storey signature tower. While the first tower could begin later this year and complete by 2021, it is expected the entire development will not be complete until around 2025.

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View looking North
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View looking north on 107A Ave towards proposed plaza on 136A St
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View looking south from King George Blvd
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View looking west from Whalley Blvd & 107A St at first phase of project featuring a 35-storey condo tower and 6-storey condo building with retail at grade.

For more on the project: http://www.surrey.ca/bylawsandcouncillibrary/PLR_7915-0305-00.pdf