Developer plans to transform former Stardust site into 50-storey Surrey education centre

Free reunion skate expected to be held before iconic Surrey building torn down.

A digital rendering of a proposed 50-storey education centre in Surrey City Centre on the former Stardust roller rink site.

CITY CENTRE — A developer has announced plans to replace the former Stardust roller rink building with a $200-million, 50-storey education centre.

The 550,000-square-foot “GEC Education Mega Center” project, subject to city approval, is a partnership between developer WestStone Group and CIBT Education Group (rendering pictured).

It would cater to international students.

“International student enrolment across British Columbia has been growing at an astonishing rate of 25 per cent since 2014, generating over $5 billion in gross income for the province,” said CIBT Education Group President and CEO Toby Chu.

“This is despite the fact that B.C. not only has some of the most expensive real estate in the country but also vacancy rates of 0.3 per cent forcing students to live in expensive buildings that aren’t necessarily close in proximity to their school,” he added.

CIBT is an “education management company focused on the global market since 1994,” according to a release. It owns and operates a network of business, technical and language colleges in North America and Asia, such as Sprott Shaw College, offering programs in 12 countries with campuses, recruitment offices and training centres enrolling more than 8,000 students a year.

The company offers recognized business and management degrees, programs in college preparation, healthcare, hotel management, tourism, English language training and more.

Chu said with WestStone’s experience in developing residential and commercial high-rise buildings, the proposed education centre will help students across the province find “affordable, high quality student housing that is central to public housing.”

The would-be education centre is set to be located in City Centre, between SFU Surrey and the future Kwantlen Polytechnic University at 10240 135th Street.

Levels one to three would offer amenities including a food court, student lounge, computer centre, electronic library and conference rooms as well as office space for education consultants.

Levels four to 20 would be leased to educational institutions as their satellite campus in Surrey.

Residential suites on levels 26 to 35 would be designed for long-term stay international students and the remaining levels 36 to 50 would be “flagship student hotels” for short-term stays students and visitors.

Brian Regehr, president and CEO of WestStone Group, said he is “delighted to be adding an exceptional education component to the city centre to complement and enhance those already here.”

“We are proud to be building in the city and watching it evolve into British Columbia’s next great metro centre,” said Regehr in a release. “In a few more years Surrey will overtake Vancouver in terms of its population, the momentum is happening now and through exciting new developments and infrastructure, such as our proposed Education Mega Centre, a true 21st Century city is emerging.”

Regehr suspects many people will be interested to learn the proposed education centre will be built on the former roller rink site (pictured left), which was etched in the memories of many Surrey residents since it first opened in the 1970s.

SEE ALSO: Surrey’s Stardust rolls again for reunion skate

“I hope that before we take it down, we are able to offer the citizens of Surrey one more chance to relive some Stardust memories and enjoy a free skate,” said Regehr.

Whalley’s Stardust roller rink drew huge crowds for decades. Before closing in 2005, it was a landmark for generations, the place to be for thousands of kids.

In its prime, hundreds of teens flocked to the venue on a typical Friday or Saturday night to strap on a pair of roller skates and glide around the polished floor.

Earlier this year, longtime rink manager Bonnie Burnside, who now serves on the Downtown Surrey BIA, told the Now the rink meant something to the community.

“When we first announced we were closing, people were writing petitions and sending it to the city because they didn’t want us to close,” Burnside said.

A reunion skate last February in what’s now called Central City Arena drew massive interest, said event organizer Krissy Williams.

“There’s a lot of people that miss Stardust.”

amy.reid@thenownewspaper.com

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