Surrey City Centre: A Decade in Review

With the new year upon us, it’s time for this blog’s annual review of the past year in Surrey City Centre, as well as a look at what can be expected ahead in 2020. Additionally this year, we will also take a look back at the past decade, which saw accelerating growth and transformation in City Centre, a trend likely to persist as Surrey’s downtown becomes further established, and continues to attract more people, businesses, institutions, and jobs.

Growth in 2019

Construction activity in Surrey City Centre reached record levels in 2019, with many projects approved in previous years entering the construction phase, joining others already under construction, and others completing. Overall 2019 construction activity is summarized below:

6 significant projects began construction

  • One Central | 44 Storeys
  • Georgetown One | 30 Storeys
  • Linea | Residential | 28 Storeys
  • Veterans Village | Mixed-Use | 20 Storeys
  • Camellia | Residential | 5 Storeys
  • La Voda | Residential | 6 Storeys

7 significant projects continued construction

  • King George Hub B | Residential, Office, Retail | 15 + 29 + 40 Storeys
  • Park Boulevard | Residential | 39 Storeys
  • King George Hub C | Rental Residential | 34 Storeys
  • City Centre 3 | Office, Retail | 10 Storeys
  • Fraser Landmark | Residential | 6 Storeys
  • Maverick | Residential | 5 Storeys
  • 13904 102 Ave | Residential | 4 Storeys

8 significant projects completed construction

  • Prime | Residential, Office, Retail | 37 Storeys
  • Evolve | Residential, Office, Retail | 36 Storeys
  • Aspire | Residential | 6 Storeys
  • Porte HQ | Residential | 6 Storeys
  • SFU Sustainable Energy & Environmental Engineering Building | 5 Storeys
  • 9909 140 St | Residential | 4 Storeys
  • Surrey Central Station Expansion
  • West Village Park & District Energy Centre
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One Central under excavation at Central Ave & 133A St
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Linea by Rize under construction at 104 Ave & 133 St
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King George Hub (Phase B) under construction at King George Blvd & Fraser Hwy
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Park Boulevard under construction on Whalley Blvd near 100 Ave
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King George Hub B & Park Boulevard as seen from Fraser Hwy
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Georgetown One under excavation at Whalley Blvd & 102 Ave
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City Centre 3 by Lark Group under construction on 96 Ave
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Aspire recently completed on 101 Ave near Whalley Blvd
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Prime completed in Fall 2019 at University Dr & Central Ave
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HQ by Porte at 140 St & 105A Ave completed early 2019
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Evolve completed in 2019 at Central Ave & 133 St
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SFU Sustainable Energy & Environmental Engineering Building completed in Spring 2019
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Surrey Central Station expansion completed in Spring 2019
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West Village Park & District Energy Centre completed in Spring 2019

As for new Development Applications, 2019 saw a drop from 2018’s record number of 25 applications, to 19 new applications. This is still well above all previous years in the decade between 2010 and 2017, indicating continued strong interest from the development community in 2019. These 19 new Development Applications included approximately 21 towers (>6 Storeys) and 14 low-rises (4-6 Storeys), comprising over 7,200 units and over 300,000 sq.ft. of commercial space in 2019 applications alone.

As of January 2020, in total there are currently 65 significant active applications either under review, approved, or under construction in City Centre consisting of approximately 69 high rises (>6 Storeys) and 44 low-rises (<6 Storeys), representing approximately 23,000 units and over 1,650,000 sq.ft. of commercial space. More info on all active projects can be found on the Active Projects in City Centre page. 

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Looking ahead to 2020

2019’s drop in Development Applications from that of 2018 can perhaps be seen as symptom of the cooling real estate market from its peak in 2017. Despite this drop, Development Application activity in City Centre remains strong, and can be expected to continue in 2020 with many new projects known to be in the early planning stages, likely to submit applications within the coming year. Of these, we’re likely to find out more details on the much anticipated Centre Block redevelopment (former North Surrey Rec Centre), rumoured to include significant office space, retail, and a further expansion of SFU, all integrated within a new transit plaza and revamped Surrey Central Station.

Aside from this, construction activity in 2020 can be expected to include:

7 significant project construction starts

  • University District | Residential, Retail | 28 + 37 Storeys
  • Park George | Residential | 35 + 39 Storeys
  • The Holland (Phase 1) | Residential | 25 Storeys
  • Central City II | Office | 25 Storeys (Potential late 2020 start)
  • Centra | Residential | 23 Storeys
  • Rosewood | Residential, Office | 5 Storeys
  • Parker | Residential | 4 Storeys

10 significant projects continued construction

  • One Central | 44 Storeys
  • King George Hub B | Residential, Office, Retail | 40 + 29 + 15 Storeys
  • Park Boulevard | Residential | 39 Storeys
  • King George Hub C | Rental Residential | 34 Storeys
  • Georgetown One | 30 Storeys
  • Linea | Residential | 28 Storeys
  • Veterans Village | Mixed-Use | 20 Storeys
  • City Centre 3 | Office, Retail | 10 Storeys
  • Camellia | Residential | 5 Storeys
  • La Voda | Residential | 6 Storeys

3 significant projects expected completion

  • Fraser Landmark | Residential | 6 Storeys
  • Maverick | Residential | 5 Storeys (Potential late 2020 completion)
  • 13904 102 Ave | Residential | 4 Storeys

Aside from this, we can also expect to find out more details on a number of high profile applications currently in the initial stages of review as they proceed to Council in 2020, such as:

  • Bosa’s upcoming 104 Ave & City Parkway project
  • King George Hub (Phase D)
  • Plaza 104 redevelopment
  • Holland Parkside by Century Group
  • A revised proposal for the GEC Education Mega Centre

Moving beyond 2020, it’s likely we will see an even further acceleration of the strong growth trend, as 2018 and 2019’s record development applications enter the construction stage, and other yet-to-be announced transformative projects begin to take shape. Accompanying this will be the extension of SkyTrain to Langley by the mid-to-late decade, which should further position Surrey City Centre as a regional downtown, within closer commuting distance to the rapidly growing Fraser Valley than Downtown Vancouver. With all this growth, Surrey City Centre is shaping up to become a remarkably different place by the end of the 2020’s than it is today, with more transformation likely in the coming decade, than in the past, or even past two combined.

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

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/

Surrey invited to MIPIM Cannes – world’s leading property exhibition

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The City of Surrey has been invited to participate at this year’s Les Marché International des Professionels de l’immoblier (MIPIM) – taking place March 13-16 in Cannes, France. Surrey is the only Western Canadian city participating at the conference – but will be joined by Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton, and the Niagara Region who will also have a presence.

MIPIM is one of the largest and most prestigious real estate conferences in the world. It has been the international stage where Toronto’s Waterfront Project and Montreal’s Downtown Arts & Entertainment District have been profiled and attracted investment. It is also where Bing Thom Architects’ won a Special Jury Award in 2004 for the Central City building – as the world’s best overall new development for its architecture and building innovation.

At this year’s MIPIM, Mayor Linda Hepner has been personally invited to speak on behalf of Surrey in a panel discussion on the topic of City as a Service, the New Urban Reality, as well as participate at a number of related events at the conference. Being invited to participate at MIPIM is an indication of Surrey’s emerging recognition as an internationally relevant city for future growth and investment.

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With more than 24,000 real estate investors from over 100 countries in attendance, MIPIM provides a unique platform for promoting Surrey globally as a place to invest, which can help to accelerate the city’s transformation. In addition to Mayor Hepner’s participation at the event, Invest Surrey & Partners will be showcasing Surrey as North America’s ‘Next Metropolitan Centre’ through a presentation centre to be located in the exhibition area of the main venue. Blackwood Partners, the owners of Central City, will also be attending to promote and attract investment in their upcoming ‘Central City 2’ office tower project.

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Invest Surrey & Partner’s presentation centre at MIPIM 2018

For more on Surrey’s invitation to MIPIM:

http://www.surrey.ca/bylawsandcouncillibrary/CR_2018-R023.pdf