Three proposals to build towers in City Centre were moved forward by city council on Oct. 1, and the amount of highrise projects in the area has one resident calling for a “moratorium” until the city conducts a new traffic study.
The “King George Hub” development next to King George SkyTrain took a step forward after council voted to give third reading to phase three of the project on Oct. 1 following a public hearing.
Before the vote, Surrey resident Richard Landale expressed his call for a “moratorium” on city council approving highrise projects in the area, noting that by his calculations council has approved the construction of more than 4,400 dwelling units in City Centre towers this year. He estimated this will generate a 32 per cent increase in traffic volumes.
Phase one of the “Hub” project was the 10-storey Coast Capital building that was completed in 2015, adjacent to King George SkyTrain station.
Phase two — which is under construction after being approved by council on June 26, 2017 — involves the construction of a stand-alone two-storey restaurant, single-storey retail podium, two residential towers (40 and 29 storeys) and a 15-storey office building. Although the developer has recently asked for an increase in density for this phase, and in lieu, to reduce the maximum floor area ratio in phases one and four.
Developer PCI Group now proposes ground-floor commercial retail units and a residential tower instead of the originally proposed office tower.
This third phase — on a 7.1-acre property at the northeast corner of King George Boulevard and Fraser Highway — is “intended to complete the Coast Capital Plaza on the ground plane” and “enclose the plaza with a podium street wall.”
This tower will have 471 residential units and 9,322-square-feet of ground-floor commercial retail units. The developer sought a reduction in indoor amenity space (from 11,980 to 11,453 square feet, and will pay $19,200 to the city to address the shortfall) and needed council’s approval to rezone the property to allow for multiple unit residential.
Proposed amenities for the tower include an outdoor dining area, a playground and climbing play feature, a theatre, two lounges and an “extensive green roof.”
In a recommendation to council, city staff note the development “conforms to the goal of achieving high density, mixed-use development nodes around SkyTrain stations,” noting the proposed tower is 525 feet from the King George stop. ‘
As part of the overall project, several lots were conveyed to the city to create an internal road network, to be called George Junction, as well as the widening of Whalley Boulevard and for future light rail infrastructure adjacent the SkyTrain corridor.
A forthcoming fourth phase of the project is planned.
In a report, city staff said there were no concerns raised by locals after pre-notification letters were issued on July 10.
But at the hearing, a handful of people spoke against it before those behind the project spoke in favour.
Engaged resident Richard Landale addressed council, and presented his calculations that the entire “Hub” project will see 1,107 dwelling units built, and 2,297 parking stalls, with 1,236 of those designated to be used for commercial use.
Landale – as well as Surrey council candidate Roslyn Cassells (who is running under the Green Vote banner) – took issue with the loss of parking next to King George SkyTrain, as a result of this large development.
“Anbody who wants to use King George Station will have to drive down to somewhere like Scott Road (Station) to park…. How you allowed that to happen is beyond any possible understanding. Anyways, it’s happened. It’s destroyed,” Landale lamented.
The developer’s engineer later responded that there will be more than 300 public parking spaces in the project, in all, and that PCI Group has commissioned and completed a traffic impact study and is building road connections to relieve some of the congestion pressures.
Putting the matter into a larger context, Landale presented city council with figures he compiled about seven highrise projects approved in City Centre by Surrey council this year. Landale told council that in all, there are 4,419 dwelling units with 6,994 parking stalls have been approved between the developments.
Prior to the Oct. 1 council meeting, Landale emailed Surrey’s Traffic Manager Jaime Boan inquiring why the city didn’t have a recent traffic study for the area.
Landale read to council, and took issue with, part of Boan’s response. “As the city has a clear vision for the transportation network and constantly assesses and modifies intersections and signal timings through our Traffic Management Centre, we do not believe there is any value in requiring traffic impact studies for developments within our city centre.”
Landale told the Now-Leader he finds that response “shocking and staggering” and called for a moratorium on approving any more towers in the area “until a comprehensive traffic volume study with a mitigation plan is accepted by council.”
“You cannot have highrises being built, and then 600 to 700 cars pouring onto King George Boulevard,” he added. “And if council’s project gets built, the Surrey-Newton-Guildford LRT, the combination of all these vehicles and LRT, it’s going to be a nightmare along King George Boulevard. It’s unacceptable.”
On Monday night, council also gave third reading to a separate proposal to build a highrise a few blocks away on King George Boulevard. The project would involve tearing down the Knight & Day Restaurant, at 9677 and 9681 King George Blvd., to make way for a 25-storey, 274-foot-tall tower with 271 apartments.
While a previous 2010 proposal to build an 18-storey tower on the site received city council’s blessing, the new application, submitted on behalf of Square Nine King George Development Ltd., sought to increase the height and density of the project.
Another 44-storey proposed tower in the area was moved forward by Surrey council on Oct. 1. This project, at 10297 and 10327 133A St., is said to be “in keeping” with phase five of the “West Village” development.
City council voted on Oct. 1 to give this revised, previously endorsed project third reading and for a development permit to be executed. It includes a 13-storey podium as well as ground-level retail, and is located within 450 metres of Surrey Central SkyTrain Station. City staff note in a report that the development “conforms to the goal of achieving high-rise, high density development around three SkyTrain stations.”
The previous WestStone Group application for the site to rezone the property from single family residential to comprehensive development, which received third reading on in 2017, proposed to construct a 44-storey tower and 13-storey podium that would be rental housing. Later, Aoyuan Group purchased the property with the intention to complete the project, a report notes, but they decided “to not proceed with rental housing in favour of a market strata development,” resulting in council denying final adoption this past June.
The new application “closely resembles” the prior one, with 539 apartments and 11 townhomes proposed.
Phases one to three of WestStone Group’s development is complete and occupied, with phase four currently under construction, fronting 133rd Street and Central Avenue (a 36-storey apartment tower with 402 units, and three storeys of commercial).