A preliminary sketch of Albert Svab’s plan to develop land that he purchased in 1970.

Landowner defends South Surrey highrise proposal

The landowner behind three proposed 18-storey residential highrises and an eight-storey commercial building has responded to concerns.

The South Surrey resident behind three proposed 18-storey residential highrises and an eight-storey commercial building in Morgan Heights has responded to concerns about the project.

Some – upset with a boost in residential density – have commented online with concerns regarding the project’s proximity to Sunnyside Elementary school, which has reached capacity, and an online petition against the development started Monday and had 200 supporters by 8 a.m. Tuesday.

In an interview with Peace Arch News Monday, land owner Albert Svab said there will be little impact to the school because the condominiums will be high-end units, suitable for empty-nesters, baby-boomers, retirees and people that “have some dollars.”

“The baby-boomer is a big class and a lot of them have money. They are selling their homes, they are selling their properties. They are downsizing,” Svab said.

Svab said he believes the units will be out of the price range for most young families.

“That’s the big thing I want emphasized. The school situation is terrible, it’s overcrowded. This, we feel, will not impact the schools.”

As well, Svab noted the proximity to retailers at The Shops at Morgan Crossing and Grandview Corners, which he believes is now the largest shopping area in all of Surrey.

“We’re the last holdout here, it’s time,” he said of recent development in the area.

Svab purchased the property, located at 2660 Croydon Dr., for $27,500 in 1970. A portion of the 9.4-acre lot is used by his soil company Alnor Excavating Ltd. If his plan goes forward, he plans to relocate his business.

To the west of the proposed development is Highway 99, to the east runs BC Hydro power lines. Svab owns the 6.32 acres of land underneath the power lines. If the project is approved by the City of Surrey, Svab said he will gift the 6.32 acres to the city as greenspace. Svab said it would be a great opportunity and location for the city to build a park.

The application was submitted to the city as a community plan amendment to rezone the land, to be followed by request for a development permit. Surrey council has yet to see the application.

Each apartment, he said, would feature a large balcony with a built-in fireplace, barbecue and infrared heater.

Svab estimated that there would be 600 units, most of which would be two-to-three bedroom suites. Each residential building would have its own amenities including a pool, workout facility and common area.

The plan is that the fourth storey and below would be bachelor units. Svab believes some of the purchasers may want to buy a bachelor suite for an elderly parent.

“The baby-boomers are having to look after that parent. We did, both parents. They want to be close instead of tucking them into an apartment and you get an alert. Wouldn’t it be better if you were just there and can help when needed?”

Each of the residential buildings would have underground parking. There would be outside parking for the office building.

Svab believes the office building would be used by service providers such as lawyers, accountants and doctors.

Critics have also noted the proposal’s potential impact on traffic and services.

Svab noted that when a project as big as this one is proposed, the automatic response from the community tends to be unfavourable.

“Because it’s impacting on a neighbourhood,” he said. “Who would we be impacting? We have the freeway on one side. We have hydro on the other side. We’re not impacting anybody’s living conditions, which is important.”

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