SURREY — It’s been 10 years since the City of Surrey created the Surrey City Development Corporation (SCDC), and the organization has just welcomed a new president and CEO.
Michael Heeney — an internationally recognized city builder, architect and urban strategist — has been appointed to serve at the helm of SCDC, which is Surrey’s for-profit real estate development corporation. The SCDC aims to “assist in realizing and advancing the transformation of the City of Surrey into a more modern, vibrant, sustainable and complete community.”
Through its real estate development activities, SCDC aims to help the city achieve “strategic community objectives by optimizing the use and value of city-owned lands and civic facilities and encouraging high quality private-sector development in Surrey.”
Heeney has roots in Surrey’s development world, largely due to his 28-year role as managing principal of Bing Thom Architects that saw him work on the Chan Centre for performing Arts at UBC, some international projects, but also several in Surrey, including the iconic City Centre Library, Guildford Aquatic Centre and the new SFU Sustainable Energy and Environmental Engineering building.
The city says he was involved in many “visionary” projects in the City Centre core and was “instrumental in bringing together a myriad of public and private stakeholders to create and execute Central City.”
Heeney told the Now-Leader he was drawn to the job because he’s interested in projects that “make a difference in the community.”
“Both the quality of the projects, and the location… to help improve the sense of the community and the economy and improve the social life of the community,” he said. “I want to do meaningful projects, kind of like the Century Group (3 Civic Plaza) project but also the ones I’ve been involved with.”
From his City Centre office Tuesday, Heeney gazed upon the 3 Civic Plaza project. SCDC partnered with Century Group and Delta West Developments in the project, a 52-storey mixed-use building that will be home to the Marriott Autograph Collection Civic Hotel, Kwantlen Polytechnic University and new residents in City Centre.
“A lot of what SCDC does it quite appropriately in partnership with other developers. So SCDC acts as a catalyst to encourage development in certain places. This is a perfect example of that,” he said of the hotel. “It’s a real landmark. The quality of the building is remarkably good. And even more significant, or as significant, is the design of the building and its mixed use.”
Components of that project are set to open later this year.
Heeney said one of his first jobs will be to help lead a strategic planning process to establish what SCDC’s goals and objectives are going to be over the next three to five years.
“Surrey is just at such an exciting period in its development and to be involved in a city that’s growing so quickly and so positively is just a privilege. I think it’ll be an exciting few years,” Heeney said.
It’s been an interesting journey, he said.
“Up until Monday, I’ve been working for Bing Thom Architects. A large portion of my career is in Surrey so… there’s a lot of continuity. I’m in an office now in Central City. So it’s full circle.”
Mayor Linda Hepner said she is “delighted” that Heeney is joining SCDC and said she looks “forward to him bringing his vision to build on the strength and successes of SCDC as it enters its second decade.”
SCDC provides an annual dividend to the City of Surrey.
According to SCDC’s 2016 annual report it had an annual surplus from operations of $18.7 million, the most since its inception in 2007.
“Strong financial returns in 2016 enabled the Corporation to pay a dividend of $4.5 million to the City of Surrey for the fourth consecutive year,” according to former interim president and CEO Emily Taylor.
In its first decade, SCDC worked on many projects.
SCDC is behind the Campbell Heights North Project, and has undertaken zoning, subdivision and servicing of the 250-acre light industrial park in an effort to “create opportunities for new jobs and economic growth for the city.”
SCDC also partnered with Beedie Development Group to develop a 114,000-square-foot facility in Campbell Heights North, and is behind The Grove at Clayton, a 141-unit townhome complex in a joint venture with Townline Homes.
The corporation also contributed to the development of Surrey City Hall; is exploring opportunities to develop a mixed-use project that would include residential, retail and arts space in Semiahmoo Town Centre; and worked on remediation of the former Cloverdale Plaza Mall before selling the property to Townline and Mosaic, who are now developing the Cloverdale West Village residential project.
A high profile project of SCDC’s was the Central City Brewers + Distillers building in Bridgeview, a built-to-suit 60,000-square-foot building, which received the 2014 Award of Excellence in the Fraser Valley Industrial Commercial Building Awards in 2014. It was sold to the company in 2016.