A new community development has changed a once isolated station into a thriving anchor for Surrey’s downtown development plans.
King George Hub has officially opened after almost a decade of work to create Surrey’s first comprehensive transit-oriented development just as the adjoining Skytrain station transforms from a terminus to a connecting station for the upcoming Surrey Langley Skytrain extension.
The hub currently has 738 condo units and 371 rental homes completed along with 350,000 square feet of office space and 130,000 square feet of retail space. The project’s fourth phase is currently under construction and will add an additional 886 condos, 30,000 square feet of office and retail space and is expected to be complete in 2025. The fifth phase begins in 2023 with an additional 400 rental homes.
PCI Developments president Tim Grant said as plans changed around the King George Skytrain station’s role in the community the King George Hub adapted in kind.
“The transit planning and the transit discussion has been a really lively discussion over 10 years, and so we’ve always been having to make accommodations for what the future of transit looks like. At one point it was going to be an entirely new line that people get off the train here and then take an additional light rail train out to Langley, so we had to make provisions for that in our first phase,” Grant said.
“(In) the second phase there was potential for a King George line along King George, and that became the priority, so he had to bridge to that. Ultimately, we’ve landed at the Skytrain extension which we think it’s the best, with an existing extension, existing transit infrastructure and good provisions for future growth,” he added. “We think this is going to be the gateway to the Fraser Valley which is where a huge chunk of our population growth is in the region. We’re really excited about that.”
PCI Developments has created other community developments such as the transit-centred Marine Gateway in south Vancouver and the Crossroads at Cambie and Broadway near downtown Vancouver.
“We learned a lot from both those projects and put them into play here,” Grant said. “I think a big part of that is working directly with transit authorities and understanding the different inputs they have. T That’s evident today by TransLink’s really prominent role in the project,” Grant said.
“Our biggest takeaway is that you need all the users. It really has to be a complete community in Vancouver, the residential is almost insatiable demand, office (space) is a bit more of a challenge and they collectively both support retail. If you take one of those out of the mix, particularly if you take residential out of the mix, it’s very, very difficult, if not impossible, to make the users work independently.
“This ties into Surrey’s larger project to make a new downtown, which they started years ago. It seems like this is kind of one of the keys to it,” Grant said.
When the King George station opened in 1994 it was an isolated terminus station with a parking lot and two older buildings. PCI Developments purchased the land 10 years ago, Grant said, and invested upwards of $1 billion to create a mixed-use hub of commercial, residential and educational structures.
Grant added while Simon Fraser University has had a presence in the area for the past 15 years, other educational institutions plan to move into the area and take advantage of the community hub and its proximity to major health care infrastructure.
“University of British Columbia (UBC) has actually bought the property across the street and so their plans for Surrey are really going to be headquartered out of that property,” he said. “And you know, it’s exciting as Simon Fraser University has expanded a lot of what they’re doing across the board in their programming. It seems that Surrey Memorial Hospital and UBC and B.C.’s health care future is very much under consideration, so we think it’s a great location to be at.”