There are immense plans to redevelop the shuttered North Surrey Recreation Centre and the bus loop and parking lot serving SkyTrain’s Surrey Central Station into a major office and retail development with multiple towers.
Rezoning applications for the two parcels immediately west of the SkyTrain station were submitted to the municipal government last month, and the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association has provided a first glimpse of the proposed designs.
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Both parcels are on publicly owned land, and the redevelopment is spearheaded by the municipal government’s Surrey City Development Corporation (SCDC).
It calls for 1.446 million sq. ft. of office and retail space wedged by Civic Plaza to the north and Central City shopping mall to the south. This represents a major step forward towards establishing a strong core for Surrey City Centre and its Central Business District (CBD).
The amount of total commercial space is equivalent to the combined 1.5-million-sq-ft floor area of the original four office towers of Bentall Centre, which anchored the CBD of downtown Vancouver for decades. It will also be larger than the 1.3 million sq. ft. of total floor area in The Post redevelopment that will be anchored by Amazon.
The redevelopment could generate office and retail employment for nearly 10,000 people, creating a high-density workforce cluster that could catalyze other economic growth and investment. No residential space is planned.
Few details have been released to the public at this time, but the artistic rendering shows a new on-street bus exchange on 102 Avenue adjacent to a new transit plaza.
This transit plaza and on-street bus exchange is also covered by a striking, massive glass canopy, which extends across the development site and over a mid-block crosswalk on 102 Avenue to reach the Central City entrance.
The canopy is part of a larger structure that also provides a new roof for the SkyTrain station, which will be completely renovated to improve the passenger experience and account for the area’s new urban context and the repositioning of the bus exchange onto the street.
Retail and restaurants on the ground level of the buildings will help activate the new public realm created by the projects.
The office towers will be used as a major expansion of Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) Surrey campus. The provincial government has already indicated the SFU Surrey campus will see the additions of a quantum computing institute, and during the recent election the BC NDP promised to open a medical school at the campus — a major policy decision that will create BC’s second medical school for doctors and nurses.
Additionally, in July 2019, the federal government announced its plan to create a major centralized office hub within Surrey City Centre that consolidates the majority of its public servants working in the southern areas of Metro Vancouver. It was stated that new federal office space could potentially be tied in with new academic spaces for SFU.
“This is a great first step to make Surrey Centre an iconic destination for public sector jobs, to advance education, and to create hubs for transit and community spaces. This will help stimulate growth south of the Fraser and make Surrey Centre the centre of one of the largest workforces in Lower Mainland,” said Randeep Sarai, MP for the riding of Surrey Centre, at the time.
“This collaboration will act as a catalyst in making Surrey Centre a central space that enables creativity and creates opportunities. I am happy to see all levels of government and academia collaborating to give Surrey opportunities at its doorstep.”
All of this aligns with the municipal government’s 2017-approved Surrey City Centre Plan, which calls for high-density commercial space and a north-south pedestrian corridor cutting through this property, referred to as the “Centre Block.”
It will provide a continuous open public space between Central City to the south and Surrey City Hall to the north, essentially creating a southward extension of the public realm established by Civic Plaza.
North Surrey Recreation Centre closed in late 2019 shortly after the opening of the new replacement facility at the North Surrey Sport and Ice Complex near Scott Road Station.
As the project is fundamental to catalyzing Surrey’s economic development and is proposed by a city-owned entity, it is expected to see relatively swift approval.
This will be one of SCDC’s final projects before it is dissolved and its assets are transferred to the municipal government, following a decision by city council in June 2020. SCDC was also responsible for the 3 Civic Plaza mixed-use tower just to the north, and it is also focused on developing a major project next to Gateway Station.