SCDC Seeking additional density for its flagship "Centre Block" commercial redevelopment in the heart of Surrey City Centre.
Simon Fraser University's new medical school to occupy portion of new development.
As the City of Surrey rapidly expands, particularly with Surrey City Centre at its core, there's a growing discussion surrounding the scarcity of new office construction, making it a prominent topic of conversation.
Behind closed doors, the City has been diligently advocating for developers to enhance office and commercial development in the core area. Nevertheless, developers contend that the demand for new space hasn't matched current market expectations. Factors such as the impact of COVID-19 and the emergence of work-from-home trends have further dampened prospects for new commercial space in recent years.
For private, for-profit developers beholden to financial and shareholder responsibilities, this entails prioritizing projects that are financially viable.
That being said, there's a compelling case for increasing the availability of office and commercial space in City Centre.
This is where the Surrey City Development Corporation (SCDC) can wield significant influence by prioritizing this vital facet of urban development. Restarted by the current City Council, SCDC aims to catalyze investment in the City Centre area.
As stated in a letter be the mayor, "SCDC is a for-profit entity whose mandate is to develop City-owned surplus lands in ways that advance the City into a more modern and complete community. The City of Surrey has been the sole shareholder of SCDC."
In its first order of business, the SCDC has resubmitted an application for its Centre Block development, looking to increase density by nearly 200,000 SF for a total floor area of 1.56 million square feet.
Total Density Breakdown:
- 1.21 million square feet of office space
- 329,000 square feet of institutional space
- 24,200 square feet of retail/restaurant space
Centre Block will occupy the former site of the North Surrey Recreation Centre and the current centrally located bus transit shelter, situated between City Hall and the SFU Surrey campus.
Surrey City Centre is undergoing significant growth, with boundless potential ahead. It presents a clean canvas for fresh urban development, and with active involvement from all major players in Metro Vancouver, it's poised to evolve into one of the most dynamic communities in the region.
As noted by the SCDC:
"With more people now living proximate to Surrey City Centre than downtown Vancouver, the region’s distribution of office space and attendant jobs has been much slower to evolve. Specifically, Surrey City Centre has less than 2 million square feet of office space compared to the downtown Vancouver peninsula’s office inventory of over 28 million square feet. The negative social, environmental and economic implications of this imbalance are profound, and the Centre Block project is specifically targeted to address this imbalance and to advance the Surrey City Centre as a major business, education and jobs centre."
Simon Fraser University
With more than 8,000 students enrolled, 30+ programs, and 8 campus locations, SFU has played a major part in the establishment of Surrey City Centre as a young, vibrant, student-centric community.
Its investment into the community has been a major catalyst for the city and its future prospects. Most recently, in 2019 SFU opened its doors to its new Sustainable Energy Engineering building located just across the street from Centre Block.
It is now expected that Centre Block will be home to SFU's new medical school which is anticipated to be ready for enrollment by 2026.
The medical school will be the first to be built in western Canada in over 50 years, with UBC the only other medical school in the province. The school will train the provinces future doctors and nurses.
The target is to have its purpose-built parcel ready for 2029.
As Metro Vancouver's most prominent real estate developers continue to announce new development projects in the City of Surrey, highlighting its significant potential, it strengthens the city's long-term investment appeal for potential investors.
Paired with the city's dedication to enhancing its commercial and economic strength, I remain super optimistic regarding the direction this city is heading.
Once regarded as an overlooked destination for residence, and still perceived as such by some, there are numerous catalysts for Surrey to evolve into one of the region's economic powerhouses.