Surrey city council rejects office tower proposal for being too short

Sep 20 2019, 2:50 pm

In the City of Vancouver, proposed buildings — even office towers in downtown, and on sites near SkyTrain — are consistently being rejected or asked to go back to the drawing board for being “too tall.”

But the same certainly cannot be said for the City of Surrey, which is well known for its appetite for economic development and strong desire to create a vibrant city centre.

Earlier this week during a public meeting, Surrey city council unanimously approved a motion proposed by Mayor Doug McCallum to reject a proposed design for a 382-ft-tall, 25-storey office tower at 10045 King George Boulevard — the northwest corner of the intersection of Old Yale Road and King George Boulevard.

Central City II 10045 King George Boulevard Surrey

Site of the Central City II office tower at 10045 King George Boulevard, Surrey. (City of Surrey)

The office tower development site at the northwest corner of King George Boulevard and Old Yale Avenue. (Google Maps Streetview)

The site is owned by Blackwood Partners, which submitted a development application to develop the prominent location currently occupied by a former Best Buy store and ground-level parking.

With 567,114 sq. ft. of Class AAA office space and 16,168 sq. ft. of ground-level retail and restaurant space, the tower is envisioned as the first phase of the site-wide redevelopment of the developer’s Central City indoor mall property. The tower is designed by ZGF Architects.

Central City II 10045 King George Boulevard Surrey

Artistic rendering of the Central City II office tower at 10045 King George Boulevard, Surrey. (ZGF Architects / Blackwood Partners)

However, McCallum and other councillors lamented that the proposed height is too short — not an appropriate fit for the heart of the emerging downtown area, and a site just 200 metres away from SkyTrain’s King George Station.

“Our city centre has been developed with high-rise towers and we encourage everyone to build in our city centre. But we want to see high-rises. This is not a high-rise development,” said McCallum. “It is also right in the entrance of our city centre, literally at the corner if you are coming from the south. The major concern I have with this is it’s not high enough.”

“We only have so much land in our city centre, and it’s really important to make sure that we use that land appropriately and use as much development in our city centre, which has transportation infrastructure in it.”

Central City II 10045 King George Boulevard Surrey

Artistic rendering of the Central City II office tower at 10045 King George Boulevard, Surrey. (ZGF Architects / Blackwood Partners)

Both McCallum and councillor Mandeep Nagra called for the tower design to be more in line with the towers across the street from the development site. However, these Concord Pacific towers — roughly 40 storeys in height — are residential towers, not office towers.

Councillor Pettigrew also added that he wants to see the tower’s LEED Platinum and Step Code 3 building design standards retained if Blackwood Partners decides to go for a taller height.

“I hope that they maintain those standards as it’s a very good example for the rest of the city,” said Pettigrew.

Central City II 10045 King George Boulevard Surrey

Artistic rendering of the Central City II office tower at 10045 King George Boulevard, Surrey. (ZGF Architects / Blackwood Partners)

Central City II 10045 King George Boulevard Surrey

Artistic rendering of the Central City II office tower at 10045 King George Boulevard, Surrey. (ZGF Architects / Blackwood Partners)

With the rejection, city council instructed city staff to return to the proponents and ask them to build higher and with more density.

A city staff report reviewed by city council ahead of the meeting highlighted that the municipal government already requested the developer to pursue a taller tower prior to the submission of the rezoning and development application, but the developer was not interested.

“The 25-storey tower is located in a high profile location in the City Centre, in the southeast corner of the Central City Mall site at the intersection of Old Yale Road and King George Boulevard and overlooks Holland Park to the south,” reads the city staff report.

“Staff encouraged the applicant to increase the height of the proposed tower, due its central, prominent location in City Centre. However, the applicant declined, noting that the building had been sized for anticipated market needs.”

With the land to be dedicated for road space accounted for, the proposed floor area ratio density of this tower is 5.3 times the size of its lot.

Central City II 10045 King George Boulevard Surrey

Artistic rendering of the Central City II office tower at 10045 King George Boulevard, Surrey. (ZGF Architects / Blackwood Partners)

Current condition of Central City mall:

Central City Surrey

Existing condition of the Central City property. (Google Maps)

Future potential Central City mall redevelopment concept:

Central City Surrey

Future redevelopments on the Central City property. (Blackwood Partners)