An artist’s rendering of a proposed highrise at the corner of 100th Avenue and King George Boulevard. The rendering is from the viewpoint of King George SkyTrain Station looking northwest. (Image: City of Surrey)

Resident voices concern for tree loss in Surrey’s City Centre during highrise public hearing

The 25-storey Central City office tower was at council for public hearing

It seems height was not a concern during the public hearing for a 25-storey office tower on the Central City Mall site.

Three people got up to speak during the public hearing Monday (Nov. 4), including Downtown Surrey BIA CEO Elizabeth Model and environmental advocate Deb Jack.

The proposal is for 25-storey office tower on the southeast corner of the site (100th Avenue and King George Boulevard).

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.

READ ALSO: Developer looks to build 25-storey office tower by Surrey mall, Sept. 14, 2019

Model said that, if approved, the office tower would bring “a huge amount of economic development” to the area and a “much-needed” commercial space,”which is extremely hard for a developer to do without an anchor tenant, so going out on a limb at this point in time has been very forward-thinking on their part.”

“Not only will it create economic development, the jobs and obviously the resulting spinoff which will be taxes for the city base, but also the much necessary employment opportunities and new commercial that will come into our City Centre.”

For Deb Jack, it was about the ecological considerations for the site.

“This building is going to require the killing off of 89 trees,” Jack told council. “The 89 trees were all planted at a time when urban structures were being built, and they were supposed to be, I assume, trees that were to grow until maturity and eventually die off at the end of their lifetime — could be 100 years, but that’s clearly not going to be the case.

“It seems to me that in the longterm, everything that will go into this building, and there are some really good ideas, there are some really good plans with regards to putting in trees, landscaping at different levels. It answers a lot of things that Surrey environmental partners have been talking about in terms of needing for buildings, but it’s going to require the loss of 89 mature trees.”

Jack said there’s a need to consider what is being done with trees in urban areas.

“I think that when we’re looking at these things, consideration needs to be made for what is there already and how that might be conserved.”

This office tower 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 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.

Council previously referred the proposal back to staff after the Sept. 16 council meeting, when Mayor Doug McCallum said the height of the office tower was “way too low” for City Centre.

READ ALSO: Surrey council sends back 25-story highrise proposal, asks for more height and density, Sept. 20, 2019

Staff had encouraged the applicant, Blackwood Partners Management Corporation, to come back with a taller proposal, but the applicant declined, “noting that the building had been sized for anticipated market needs.”

Council ended up passing first and second reading at the Oct. 21 regular council meeting, without any further discussions on height or density.

READ ALSO: Surrey developer says second Central City office tower doesn’t need to be taller, Oct. 21, 2019

On Monday (Nov. 4), Council passed third reading for the proposal and it will come back for final adoption at a later meeting.

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