Surrey city council referred a proposal for a 25-storey office tower back to staff, with the mayor saying 25 storeys is “way too low” for City Centre.
The proposal, according to a planning and development report that was at council on Sept. 16, is for a 25-storey office tower on the southeast corner (100th Avenue and King George Boulevard) of the Central City Mall in City Centre.
The proposal, which is still in the planning stages, is asking for council’s approval to amend the road network on the subject site, rezone a portion of it to comprehensive development zone (CD) from community commercial zone (C-8), and a development permit.
Because of the proposed tower’s location, staff “encouraged” the applicant to increase the height of the proposed tower, the report reads. But the applicant declined, “noting that the building had been sized for anticipated market needs.”
Council unanimously referred the development back to staff, seeking additional height and density.
At the Sept. 16 council meeting, Mayor Doug McCallum said said he had “a number of concerns” about the proposal.
“Our City Centre has been developed with high-rise towers in it. We encourage everyone to build in our City Centre, but we want to see highrises. This is not a highrise development,” McCallum said.
The biggest concern, McCallum said, was the 25-storey tower was “not high enough.”
“Twenty-five storeys in our City Centre is way too low.”
On the opposite corner of the Central City Mall site is the original Central City tower, which is 25 storeys as well.
McCallum pointed out that kitty-corner to the proposed development are other, taller highrises.
“To put one right across the street at 25 (storeys) is not, in my opinion, a good way to encourage our City Centre to build. We have only a certain amount of land in our City Centre and it’s really important to make sure we use that land appropriately and use as much development that we can in our City Centre, which has transportation in it.”
Councillor Mandeep Nagra said he had similar views to McCallum, and also made a motion amendment for staff to work with the applicant to be more aligned with the building across the street. His amendment passed.
Councillor Steven Pettigrew said that regardless of the current 25-storey proposal or a taller proposal, he wanted to commend the applicant for “targeting the LEED platinum status and for also targeting Step Code 3.”
“If they do go for a higher height, I hope they maintain those standards,” said Pettigrew, adding that it sets a “good example” for the rest of the city.
Bill Rempel, vice-president and general manager of Central City, said Blackwood Partners Management Corporation (the applicant) is “currently reviewing the direction from Mayor and Council regarding Central City Tower 2 with all stakeholders.”
This office tower, according to the report, would be phase one of the “ultimate redevelopment of the Central City Mall site.” The future redevelopment of the rest of the site “will be addressed through a subsequent Master Planning process tied to a future development application.”
Each phase will be subject to rezoning and development permit applications.
The report also says the proposal, which is 656 feet from King George SkyTrain Station, “conforms” to the goal of achieving highrise, high-density, mixed-use development around SkyTrain stations.
The office tower will include 567,114-sq.-ft. of commercial office space and 16,168-sq.-ft. of ground-floor commercial retail space fronting King George Boulevard, Old Yale Road and future City Parkway.
The staff report says the proposed development “will add significant, AAA-quality office space to the City Centre,” which is “currently underserved with quality office space, as demand exceeds supply.”
Office and commercial uses, according to the report, will “help diversify the city’s tax base, allow people to live in proximity to where they work, and increases vibrancy in the City Centre.”
The proposal includes five levels of underground parking, for a total of 982 parking stalls. It will also include electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and EV-ready parking spaces.
The report says that pre-notifications were mailed out on March 7 to 1,369 addresses.
One resident wrote in to oppose the project, citing concerns that the highrise would “impact views from their property and therefore negatively affect the value of their property.” Staff says there was one letter received in support of the proposed tower.