Plans underway for Surrey Public Market property

Friday, March 9th, 2012

Amy Reid

SURREY – The Surrey Public Market property, which has been sitting empty for over a decade, is getting a new lease on life.

A numbered company purchased the property at King George Boulevard and 64th Avenue for $7.3 million earlier this year and the new owners have plans to revitalize the corner.

Many Newton residents say the property should be home to a community space.

Jude Hannah, who started a “ReNewton” group on Facebook last November, which stands for Revitalize Newton, has been fighting to get another public market going on the site.

When Hannah purchased her Newton home in 1986, she said the public market was part of what drew her to the area.

“It was a really bustling, funky market,” she said, adding that new tenants would come and go, until finally, it became vacant in the late ’90s, and has been that way ever since.

Hannah said revitalizing the corner at 64th Avenue and King George Boulevard is the first step to revitalizing the area.

“I see the revitalization of this corner as a jumpstart to getting Newton back on track,” she said. “We need a place that can be used and enjoyed by all segments of the community. All cultures, all socio-economic groups, all ages. A public market is a place that brings people together, no matter who they are.”

Hannah said the corner is an eyesore, which is particularly concerning for her, as it’s what people see as they head into South Surrey.

“The unappealing corner unintentionally calls out a very visual ‘Welcome to Surrey,'” Hannah said.

Another Newton resident, Jen Robbins, who runs the website, would like to see the property turned into a community gathering place. Robbins said people from the area often head into South Surrey or Cloverdale to shop, because there aren’t a lot of options nearby. Creating something community-oriented on this corner would allow residents to shop in their own backyard, she added.

Hannah, Robbins and another dozen Newton residents took part in a Newton community meeting at Surrey city hall Thursday night, facilitated by Coun. Barinder Rasode. MLA Harry Bains also attended the meeting to show his support for the new group.

Rasode saw what Hannah was doing with her ReNewton initiative, and thought it would be a good time to look at forming an official community association.

“Historically, most of Surrey’s 38 community associations started around an issue in the community, often relating to development, and grew from there,” Rasode said.

During the meeting, the Newton community group formed, and members voted Hannah and Robbins as co-chairs. The group hasn’t confirmed what their exact boundaries will be, but have decided they will start with southeast Newton.

The group’s first order of business is having its say in what happens with the Surrey Public Market site.

In discussing the 64th Avenue and King George Boulevard site with the Newton group, Rasode said she doesn’t see the viability of having the site be solely dedicated as a public market, but added that having something like the Surrey Urban Market on a portion of the site would be a great idea.

Rasode also told the group she doesn’t support a social service agency on the property, because Newton is already “carrying the brunt of them” for the rest of the city.

But for now, the property still sits vacant.

The numbered company that purchased the property is run by Daisy da Silva.

Her husband, Manuel da Silva, who is helping develop the property, said the company has plans to have the northern portion of the property developed.

The City of Surrey’s planning department has received an application to rezone the north side of the property to allow for a combination of retail and commercial development.

As for the vacant building on the site, the owners hope to keep it and fix it up, which is expected to cost between $500,000 and $1 million.

The structure is just five feet short of being a full-sized ice rink, the owners pointed out, an idea they would be open to.

The 40,000-square-foot building, with 30-foot ceilings, and 134 underground parking stalls, is up for lease at $12 per square foot.

Todd Bohn, with Frontline Real Estate Services, said his phone lit up like a pinball machine after the “For Lease” sign went up.

Some retailers have approached the owners, as have some assembly groups, such as church groups and schools.

“It’s not very often we see a property that so many types of people are interested in,” Bohn said. “Everyone seems excited to see something on the site. It’s a fun one to be working on.”

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