The SkyTrain project extending the Expo Line along Fraser Highway to Fleetwood will not reach completion until 2025, but it is already catalyzing transit-oriented developments along the route.
There is a proposal to construct a mixed-use redevelopment at 16065-16099 Fraser Highway in Surrey — immediately east of 160 Street, where a future SkyTrain station as part of the Expo Line extension is planned.
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The rezoning and development permit application by Bucci Investment Corporation calls for 1,320 residential units and nearly 87,000 sq. ft. of commercial space, such as retail, restaurant, and office uses.
The City of Surrey confirmed to Daily Hive Urbanized the proposal entails three towers reaching heights of 40, 44, and 57 storeys, respectively.
But there are no other available details at this time, and no imagery of the design has been provided; both city staff and the developer have stated the application was just recently submitted to the municipal government’s Planning & Development Department and is in the very early application review stage.
However, this has the makings of the largest development project to date on the Fraser Highway corridor east of Surrey City Centre.
The proposed tallest tower at 57 storeys could theoretically reach around 183 m (600 ft) in height — rivalling the tallest buildings in downtown Vancouver — when consideration is given to the higher ceiling heights of the commercial floor spaces in the base of the tower, but only if this tower holds a portion of the commercial component.
A residential use of 100% for the tallest tower may potentially equate to a height of roughly 167 m (550 ft), which is still a considerable height for the area and the region.
The development site is on two lots totalling about five acres combined, and the application seeks to subdivide the site into three parcels. Both lots are currently under-utilized automative properties with an assessed value of about $18 million.
The scale of such a project would align with the City of Surrey’s new commitment to TransLink to significantly densify the areas around the future stations for residential, commercial, and institutional uses. The Surrey-Langley SkyTrain Supportive Policies Agreement, agreed between the municipality and the public transit authority, will be presented to the provincial government to help bolster the business case for the SkyTrain extension to Langley City Centre.
This includes creating new and updated land use plans for five Surrey neighbourhoods along the new SkyTrain route, including the creation of an updated Fleetwood Plan by 2022.
These land use plans will “incorporate land uses, densities and forms of residential tenure which result in planned population and job growth that exceeds the population and job projections used in the approved Surrey-Langley SkyTrain (SLS) business case ridership forecasts for those land use plan areas,” reads the report.
“The agreement provides assurance that SkyTrain-supportive land use will be advanced in the SLS corridor and includes commitments that go beyond those made in the previous agreement for the SNG LRT Project.”
Additionally, in exchange for the investment for the new SkyTrain infrastructure, the City of Surrey is required to consult with both TransLink and the provincial government “as early as possible” in the planning process on applications for developments in close proximity to the future stations in order “to achieve the best possible land use, housing, transportation and design outcomes.”
Major transit-oriented proposals such as 16065-16099 Fraser Highway could be the first of many to come, with the guidance and supportive policies of the municipal and provincial governments and the public transit authority, as well as Metro Vancouver’s growing housing affordability challenges, which has pushed population growth eastward where housing is more affordable.
Unless an additional $1.5 billion in funding is secured for the remaining nine-km-long route of the Expo Line extension between Fleetwood and Langley City Centre, the future station at 166 Street could become the new easternmost terminus for the Expo Line in the south of Fraser for the foreseeable future.
There is currently $1.63 billion in available funding for the first stage of the Expo Line extension reaching 160 Street, reallocated from the cancelled LRT project. But this depends on the provincial and federal government’s approval of the business case, with TransLink anticipating an approval possibly later this spring.
Upon final approval of the business case by senior governments and the Mayors’ Council’s approval of the altered investment plan, TransLink will launch the 18-month-long bidding process for a construction contractor. Construction on the extension could begin sometime in 2022.
The first stage extension between King George Station and 160 Street with four stations will have a travel time of 9.5 minutes. This new route ending in Fleetwood is expected to see 39,900 daily boardings by 2035.
On the other hand, the full 16-km-long extension between King George Station and Langley City Centre with eight stations and a travel time of 22 minutes is forecast to attract 62,000 daily boardings in 2035.