Bosa’s BlueSky towers heading to Public Hearing

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Bosa’s BlueSky Properties received 1st & 2nd readings by Council on Monday night for their upcoming, recently re-branded, ‘BlueSky’ project at 104 Avenue and University Drive. The project, previously thought to become the next phase of ‘University District‘ is now set for Public Hearing and 3rd reading (preliminary approval) on July 9.

Released in the Planning Report to Council on Monday were updated renderings for the project, superseding a previous design from the original 2011 application on the site. As part of the new 2018 application, tower heights have increased to 28 & 37 storeys, and incorporate a more contemporary ‘box-shaped’ architectural design. In addition, a new north-south lane will be dedicated along the site’s eastern property line, as per the City Centre Plan, helping to achieve a finer-grained road network.

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View of proposed towers facing west
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View of proposed towers facing east
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Rendering of 3-storey townhouse podium fronting University Dr
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Rendering of amenity podium with ground floor retail and rooftop pool at 104 Ave & University Dr

Designed by Vancouver’s ZGF Architects, the two condo towers will contain a total of 742 units above a 3-storey townhouse base fronting both 105 Ave & University Dr, and 4-storey amenity podium with ground floor retail and rooftop pool at the corner of University Dr & 104 Ave. The project will create a strong urban streetscape along both University Dr and 105 Ave, and help transition density further northward from the city’s emerging civic core. The project is targeted for completion and occupancy by summer 2022.

For more on the application, the full Planning Report to Council can be found here:

https://www.surrey.ca/bylawsandcouncillibrary/PLR_7918-0058-00.pdf

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

Concord proceeds to Council with next phase of ‘Park’ towers.

The next phase of Concord Pacific’s ‘Park’ community near King George Station is moving forward to Council on June 11 seeking approvals to develop a pair of 35 & 39 storey towers at 13778 100 Avenue. Located just to the east of their recently completed ‘Park Avenue’ towers, this latest, so-far unnamed project, will be the 4th phase of Concord’s ‘Park’ community following Park Place, Park Avenue, and the now under construction Park Boulevard. The 2 new towers will bring the total number of Concord towers in the community to 8. The ‘Park’ name refers to the community’s setting surrounding Quibble Creek Park.

From the Planning Report to Council, Concord is proposing to subdivide the site into 2 lots – the north lot to contain the 2-tower project, and the south lot to be conveyed to the City as an addition to Quibble Creek Park. The northern-most tower fronting 100 Avenue will be 35-storeys (348 ft), while the southern tower will be 39-storeys (377 ft.), containing a total of 676 units, above a 2-storey podium consisting of indoor and outdoor amenity space, as well as 7 ground-oriented townhouse units fronting 100 Avenue.

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As for design – the towers feature balconies that vary in size, shape, and materials, to create visual interest. Vertical blue strips run down the towers fading from dark to light blue – referencing a waterfall. Other references to water include blue paving patterns containing in-ground lights and glass bricks within the pedestrian walkways leading from Quibble Creek Park to a water feature in the centre of a plaza. This water feature serves as a focal point that can be seen from the 100 Avenue entrance, the tower lobby, and greenway to the east.

The two towers will connect and integrate with Quibble Creek Park to the south, as well as the Park Avenue towers to the west through an expanded greenway / path system. A generous sized lawn along the greenway will be provided as flex space for residents. Large planting areas with naturalistic character will help to integrate the greenway into the naturalized landscape of Quibble Creek Park.

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In addition to the project’s access to and integration with its natural park setting, other outdoor amenities to be provided on the podium’s roof include a sunbathing deck, outdoor yoga area, children’s play area and putting green. Indoor amenities include a gym, study and meeting room, pilates and exercise room, indoor pool, hot tub, steam room and sauna, change rooms, and table tennis.

The project is targeted to be constructed and ready for occupancy by March 2022.

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For more on the project:

http://www.surrey.ca/bylawsandcouncillibrary/PLR_7917-0363-00.pdf

Updated plans and station concepts unveiled for Surrey LRT

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The City of Surrey began a series of 3 open houses on Thursday for Phase 1 of the upcoming Surrey LRT project. This latest public engagement is the 3rd round of open houses on Phase 1 the project, providing refined plans based on public input from previous consultations. Presented at the open house were preliminary station designs, road designs, information on construction planning, environmental and socio-economic study results, and more. A full set of the Open House Boards can be found here.

Station Designs

Overall, stations are designed to be highly visible, well-lit, and well integrated into the community – accessible by well-marked pedestrian crossings providing universal accessibility for all riders. Lengthy platform shelters protect riders from weather, and include space for ATM’s, information boards, seating, and more – while maintaining a clear line of sight to the street and approaching trains. Stations will in most cases be located in the centre median of the street, with the exception of King George, Surrey Central and Newton Town Centre – where they will be plaza oriented, or off to the side. Public art will also be integrated into stations along the route.

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Roadway Design

LRT will run on its own dedicated track for the entirety of the line, with the exception of City Parkway where it will be integrated into a pedestrian plaza. Placement of the LRT track will vary – typically located in the centre median for most of the route, but off to the side in some sections.

Roadway design for 104 Avenue will consist of LRT in the centre median, and 1 traffic lane in each direction, widening to include an additional turning lane at major intersections. The 104 Avenue design will also provide upgraded and enhanced sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, and connections to stations. Currently 104 Avenue functions as a non-pedestrian friendly, busy arterial for cars. A re-purposed 104 Avenue with LRT will transform the street into a calmed, pedestrianized and transit-oriented corridor, supported by multi-family housing and streetfront shops along the route. The newly widened 100 Avenue and existing 108th Avenue corridors will become the new car-prioritized east-west routes between City Centre and Guildford while 104 Avenue will be the pedestrian/transit prioritized corridor.

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Roadway design for King George Blvd will retain 2 traffic lanes in each direction while allowing for LRT in the median for the majority of the route. Sections of King George in City Centre will see LRT routed off to one side. New separated bike lanes, enhanced sidewalks, and pedestrian crossings will also be a key component of the re-designed King George.

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Pedestrianized Plazas at Surrey Central & King George Stations

Taking inspiration from leading cities around the world, Surrey Central and King George Stations in City Centre are designed to be integrated into new pedestrianized public plazas. These plazas will help to create vibrant transfer points between LRT and SkyTrain’s expo line, similar to plaza’s found throughout Europe with multi-modal rail connections running through them. 

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Socio-Economic Study: Improved Travel Times

A key finding of the socio-economic study released at the open house, was the improvement in travel times that LRT will offer over the existing 96 B-Line bus service, as well as private automobile. Under Section 7.2 of the study it was found that the existing 96 B-Line service between Guilford-Newton currently takes 29 minutes under ideal conditions. During periods of congestion however, this trip can take longer than 50 minutes. Further, this travel time is expected to worsen as population grows. LRT is able to cut this travel time by up to half, taking a consistent 27-minutes every time, on opening day, and a decade later, due to its dedicated track. In addition to this, LRT offers faster service and improved experience due to:

  • More doors for boarding, significantly reducing stop times at stations, and travel times overall.
  • Nearly twice as frequent peak service as the existing 96 B-Line peak bus service.
  • A smoother, more comfortable ride than B-Line bus, with less stop and go.
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96 B-Line subject to traffic congestion – travel times between Guildford and Newton up to 50 mins during peak hours.

Integration with the Community

One of the key benefits of LRT is its integration with the community and streetscape compared to SkyTrain. While SkyTrain serves well as a long distance commuter rail service, LRT is better suited to more localized routes in the region – similar to other cities where there are various tiers of rail transit making up the regional transit network.  Not every line in a city needs to be the same type of rail transit – LRT, Subway, and Commuter Rail are often combined to compliment each other and serve different needs. The introduction of LRT to Metro Vancouver represents a maturing of our rail transit network into a multi-modal system, and it is very likely we will see LRT implemented elsewhere in the region following Surrey.

In Surrey, the 104 Avenue and King George Highway corridors that make up the ‘L’ line are much better suited to urban-style LRT than SkyTrain. Not only is this route more localized than regionally serving, but SkyTrain just doesn’t make sense from a cost perspective, and the impacts that such guideways would have on the streetscapes. Looking at a comparison between SkyTrain guideways in Richmond City Centre and Coquitlam City Centre, it is clear to see how much better LRT integrates with the streetscape and community it passes through, rather than bisecting it with an obtrusive, shadowing, and noisy concrete structure. LRT can transform a streetscape into an inviting, pedestrian friendly, vibrant urban environment – whereas SkyTrain does the opposite. 

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Impact of SkyTrain guideways on the urban environment/streetscape vs urban-style LRT

For more on Surrey LRT:

https://surreylightrail.ca

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