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

6-storey residential project near Surrey Memorial heads to Council

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A 6-storey residential building proposed at the southern tip of City Centre near Surrey Memorial Hospital went to Council Monday night for 1st & 2nd readings. Located directly across from Queen Elizabeth Secondary School at 135 St & 94A Ave, the building will replace 3 existing single family homes built in the 1950’s. The area is envisioned to transform into a dense medical, health, and technology district surrounding Surrey Memorial Hospital, with similar 4-6 storey housing to eventually replace the remaining single family pocket west of King George Blvd and south of 96th Ave.

The building itself features a two-storey townhouse base with 4 floors of condos above for a total of 50 apartment units and 10 townhouse units. A reduced setback along both 135 St and 94A Ave achieves a more urban, pedestrian-oriented streetscape, consistent with the goals of the City Centre Plan. A new green lane will also be dedicated and constructed to the north of the building as per the City Centre Plan, helping to break up the block and achieve a finer-grained street network.

As per the Planning Report, completion and occupancy is targeted for June 2020.

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Birds-eye rendering of proposed building
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Subject site within City Centre Plan

For more on the project:

http://www.surrey.ca/bylawsandcouncillibrary/PLR_7917-0205-00.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.

Development application submitted for 35-storey residential tower on Whalley Blvd near Central Ave

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Subject site at 10342 136A St

A development application has been submitted for a 35-storey residential tower above a 4-storey podium, as well as a 3-storey stand-alone commercial building on a long vacant, grassed site, on Whalley Blvd just north of Canadian Tire near Central Avenue. The address of the site is actually 10342 136A St, as the site has frontage on both Whalley Blvd and 136A St.

Details of the application indicate that the residential tower and podium are to contain 341 units, with 20,000 sq.ft. of ground floor retail, while the 3-storey stand-alone commercial building is to contain 23,800 sq.ft. of floor area (presumably office). In addition to the proposed buildings, the site has a future green-lane running east-west through it as per the City Centre Plan that will need to be dedicated as part of the development. Presumably, the 3-storey standalone commercial building will be located to the north of the lane, with the 35-storey tower and retail to the south.

The application is being represented by Focus Architecture Inc., who also designed the D’Corize tower at 104 Ave & University Dr, as well as the recent Delta Rise in North Delta. No renderings or further details of the application have been made public at this time. The site is directly to the north of Anthem Properties’ 7-tower ‘Georgetown’ development.

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Subject site within the City Centre Plan
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Birds-eye view of site from Google Maps
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Subject site from Whalley Blvd looking north-west
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Subject site from Whalley Blvd looking south-west

For more on the application:

https://apps.surrey.ca/Online-Development-Inquiry/?year=18&seq=0141

‘Fraser Landmark’ coming soon to Fraser Hwy & 140 St

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A new 6-storey condo project first reported on back in February 2017, is gearing up to begin construction in the coming months. Called ‘Fraser Landmark’, the project will bring 121 ‘luxury’ condominiums and townhomes to the corner of Fraser Hwy and 140 St, directly across from Green Timbers Park at the south-east edge of City Centre.

Registration for the project is now open to potential buyers, with sales expected to launch on May 26, and construction to begin as early as August. The building, designed by DF Architecture, will help to create an urban streetscape through its sidewalk-oriented townhomes, and 6-storey height, replacing a vacant treed lot that exists today. The building will also be just steps from a future LRT station to be located at the same intersection, along the future Surrey-Langley LRT line.

Completion of the project is expected by December 2019.

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Rendering of Fraser Landmark at the south-east edge of City Centre
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Site location at the south-east edge of City Centre

‘Gateway’ tower proposal receives conditional support of Council

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Proposed ‘Gateway’ tower site on King George Blvd at Bolivar Rd

A controversial proposal for a ‘gateway’ development on King George Blvd at Bolivar Rd at the north end of City Centre received conditional Council support on Monday in concept for its proposed density, but at the same time, was referred back to City staff for further refinement work with the applicant. The developer, an off-shore investor group known as ‘New Great Land Developing’, is proposing to amend both the Official Community Plan (OCP) and City Centre Plan to allow for:

  • One 24-storey residential tower above a 7-storey podium
  • One 24-storey residential tower above a 6-storey podium
  • One 22-storey residential tower above a 6-storey podium
  • Two stand-alone 6-storey residential buildings

The site’s current OCP designation of ‘Multiple Residential’ is proposed to be amended to ‘Central Business District’, while site’s City Centre Plan designation of ‘Residential Low to Mid Rise (2.5 FAR)’ is proposed to be amended to ‘Residential Mid to High Rise (3.5 – 5.5 FAR)’

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Proposed development looking south towards existing City Centre
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Proposed development looking south towards future built-out City Centre

In the Planning Report to Council, City staff gave 3 recommendation options to Council on how to proceed. They included:

Option A:

Refer the application back to staff to work with the applicant to develop the subject site in accordance with the “Low to Mid Rise Residential up to 2.5 FAR” designation in the City Centre Plan.

Option B:

Refer the application back to staff to work with the applicant to develop the subject site with a form of development that achieves a 6-storey form along King George Boulevard, a mid-rise (maximum 10-storey) form in the middle of the site, and a 4-5 storey form adjacent to the existing single family residential lots to the northeast of the subject site.

Option C:

Refer the application back to staff to continue to process the application at the density proposed (4.5 FAR), with the consideration of the provision of a significant amenity contribution above and beyond the required City Centre Amenity Charges and City Centre specific Development Cost Charges, which can be allocated towards amenity needs in the City Centre Plan area.

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Proposed site plan with unique angular floor plates and substantial green roofs

Council gives conditional support for increased density

Despite Staff’s recommendation that Council choose option A, which would comply with the site’s OCP and City Centre Plan designations of ‘Low to Mid Rise Residential up to 2.5 FAR’ – Council voted in-favour of Option C, supporting the applicant’s proposal for amendments to the OCP and City Centre Plan for an increase in density to 4.5 FAR, on the condition of provision of a significant amenity contribution.

A presentation by the applicant’s representative and project architect – Musson Cattell Mackey (MCM) Partnership – argued for the higher density based on the site’s location at the northern ‘Gateway’ to City Centre, proximity to rapid transit, and the fact that 5.5 FAR is already permitted directly to south of the site across King George Blvd. Council agreed that such density would also be appropriate for this site given this context, and would help form a gateway straddling both sides of King George Blvd.

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Subject Site at the north end of the City Centre Plan area (Orange = Low to Mid Rise, Purple = High Rise)

Despite the unique design of the towers as proposed, another condition of Council was that the project undergo further design revision to achieve an even more iconic look, suitable for a ‘gateway’ location, if the increase in density is to be allowed. When the project returns to Council at a later date, its possible that we could see a new design all together, or a just a refinement of what is currently proposed.

For more on the proposal:

http://www.surrey.ca/bylawsandcouncillibrary/PLR_7917-0397-00.pdf