‘You won’t recognize it in a year’s time,’ says Mayor Doug McCallum
Evidence is mounting that Surrey‘s long-sought vision for a dense, mixed-use downtown in the Whalley neighbourhood is finally taking shape.
“Two years . . . ago, we had zero development permits for this area. Today, as we stand here, we have 26 development permits, which means 26 projects that are going ahead,” said Mayor Doug McCallum, appearing Monday at the opening of Korean developer Jung Ventures’ sales centre for the five-tower Central City residential project alongside the King George SkyTrain station.
Moreover, the list of green-lit building projects shows a healthy balance between residential, retail and office development, McCallum said in an interview.
“You won’t recognize it in a year’s time,” he said, gesturing toward the still mostly low-rise, low-rent landscape surrounding the seven-acre Central City site.
The obvious exception is the 20-storey Central City office tower a few blocks away. Regarded as an NDP-era white elephant just a few years ago, the architecturally striking complex adjoining the old Surrey Place shopping mall is now more than 90 per-cent leased after 212,400 square feet of space was snapped up in the first quarter of this year.
Jung and marketing partner MAC Real Estate Solutions, meanwhile, will begin selling suites in “Infinity,” the first of a planned five residential towers with a “VIP” opening this Saturday. About 850 prospective buyers have registered to tour and possibly bid on 345 condominiums in the 36-storey structure, said MAC’s Jason Craik, and that doesn’t include real estate agents who will also attend the VIP launch.
“We haven’t seen a demand like this since three years ago. In fact I don’t think we’ve had a demand [like this] on any of the projects we’ve seen. For Surrey, it’s unprecedented,” said Craik, who is Greater Vancouver’s top realtor so far this year with 387 units worth $62 million sold.
Although the project has a number of selling points (unobstructed views, SkyTrain access, its own shopping arcade), Craik said the interest is clearly driven by the price. One-bedroom suites start at $140,000 and two-bedrooms at $180,000, compared with $218,000 and $260,000 for comparable units MAC is selling for another developer in Burnaby.
Rather than encourage the kind of lineups seen at other developments, the sales will be by appointment, 30 buyers at a time, he said. The sales centre will open to the general public two weeks later.
Construction is set to begin this June with completion two years later, said Jung Ventures president and CEO Miyung-Soo Jung. Depending on how quickly the first building sells out, the second and third could be put on the market as early as August or September, he said.
Jung said he needs to pre-sell 40 to 50 per cent of each building before starting construction.
In addition to Infinity, there are currently three condo towers breaking ground soon to the northwest near 104th Avenue, the RCMP is moving its regional headquarters to a site a few blocks to the east, and the city itself is developing the urban-style Holland Park across King George Highway to the west, McCallum said.
“There’s a really positive mood around here,” echoed Central City leasing manager Jeff Burton.
“This particular project was an anomaly,” Burton said of Central City, which was part of the former NDP government’s plan for a new technical university and ICBC headquarters, later abandoned. But the combination of Surrey‘s population growth, retail synergies with Surrey Place and SkyTrain access ultimately worked in Central City’s favour, Burton said.
“Where it was located ended up being a positive.”
AGENT OF CHANGE?:
The Central City residential development is being called the lynchpin of Surrey‘s downtown revitalization.
Developer: Jung Ventures Ltd.
Cost: $350 million
- 5 residential towers, each more than 30 storeys
- 1,400 units total
- 150,000-square-foot retail mall
© The Vancouver Sun 2005