March 5, 2013

Reaching new heights in Surrey

At 50 storeys, new mixed-use project will be the tallest building south of the Fraser River

3 Civic Plaza

Project location: On the civic plaza in Surrey City Centre on City Parkway and 104th Ave.
Project Size/scope: A 50-storey multi-use project, one of the five tallest buildings in the Lower Mainland, featuring 353 residential units, a 144-room hotel and 50,000 sq. ft of commercial office space. There are 333 parking spaces allocated to residents, with negotiations underway with Modo for car-sharing facilities.
Prices: 1-bedroom/ 1-bedroom + den (510 sq. ft and up) from mid-$200,000s; 2-bedroom and 2-bedroom + den (875 sq. ft and up) from upper-$300,000s
Contact: Bill Szeto, Colliers International
Telephone: 604-681-4111
Builder and developer: Century Group/Surrey City Development Corp.
Architect: Cotter Architects, Richmond
Interior Design: ZGF Architects, Portland, Ore.
Presentation Centre: 10277 King George Boulevard, Surrey
Hours: noon to 6 p.m., Mon .to Fri.; noon to 5 p.m., Sat. and Sun.
Occupancy: 2015

Michael Bernard
Special to The Sun

It used to be that seeking panoramic views of mountains and water meant hunting through the highrise towers clustered almost exclusively in downtown Vancouver. Not anymore.

When sales begin later this spring for Century Group’s new 50-storey 3 Civic Plaza in Surrey, those looking for highrise living will be able to choose from among 353 one- and two-bedroom suites from the 15th to the 50th floors of the tallest building south of the Fraser River. The bonus is that the per-square-foot sale prices are about 40 per cent lower than for comparable suites in downtown Vancouver, says Scott Brown, head of residential marketing for Colliers International, which is working with Century Group on marketing the residences.

During a recent pre-opening tour of the company’s presentation centre off King George Highway, director of development Joanna Kwan stressed that prospective buyers won’t have to imagine what the view is like from a particular suite. Using touch-screen controls on a LCD screen attached to a scale model of the building and site, visitors can click through a series of computer-generated series views from the highest point in Surrey. “You can really see forever,” Kwan says.

The multi-use building features a 144-room full-service hotel and 50,000 square feet of office space occupying the first 14 floors and sharing a lobby with a second offset tower housing 35 floors of one-and two-bedroom units. As awesome as the vistas are — they stretch west to the Gulf Islands and north to the downtown Vancouver skyline and south to Mount Baker, and everything in between — buyers get a lot more than just a view for their money. They will be living Surrey’s bold plan to create a formal centre in a city that has been better known for its sprawling neighbourhoods than leading the way in urban planning.

Project architect Patrick Cotter says 3 Civic Plaza is a “building that is well ahead of its time,” adding that with the density and population growth planned for the area, its height and location will make much more sense as time goes on. As with many cities — Vancouver included — Surrey has struggled to define a place that would act as its centre. After several years of careful planning, it is now succeeding. Now under construction is the new Surrey city hall, and there are plans in the works for a performing arts centre with a 1,600-seat main stage and 300-seat studio theatre. Both will join the recently opened Byng Thom-designed library.

However, planting one of Western Canada’s taller residential buildings in a suburban setting is not without its risks, Cotter says. “They (city officials) were very concerned, as we all were, that that space after 5 p.m. — when city employees go home — could be a fairly lonely place,” said Cotter. The mixed-use building helps to address that issue by creating “a lot of animation,” Cotter said. Adding to that liveliness is the proximity of Surrey’s most well-used SkyTrain Station, the Surrey Central Station. The transit line puts future residents within 37 minutes of Vancouver Waterfront station and 70 minutes of the airport.

The lobby of the 3 Civic Plaza will a hub of activity within the plaza area. Under its 30-foot ceiling is a total of 10 high-speed elevators — four for residents, four for hotel guests and two for office workers. A front desk area provides check-in, security, and concierge services for hotel guests and residents. The east-facing side of the tower is dedicated entirely to one-bedroom homes, while the west-facing side features the two-bedroom suites and a distinctive angled facade that gives the building a unique signature profile. All units feature nine-foot ceilings with floor-to-ceiling windows allowing for maximum light, and four-foot wide balconies.

Cotter notes that the building is also unusual in that two concrete walls at each end of the tower provide the structure’s strength, a design enabling the builders to use less concrete in building it. It also gives the windows at each end a unique futuristic appearance. Both Cotter and Kwan noted that there was a lot of “cross pollination” in designing the suites and the hotel rooms: the custom millwork inspired by the boutique hotel character is carried over to the cabinetry and closet space with built-in lighting in the residences’ bedrooms and bathrooms. “It means you really don’t have to purchase much furniture,” Kwan said. The open floor plans feature hardwood flooring in the living space, carpet in the bedrooms and 12-inch by 24-inch porcelain floor tiles in the bathrooms.

The kitchens have distinctive vertically patterned mosaic glass backsplashes, quartzstone counters and European-style flush overlay cabinets with indirect LED accent lighting. Standard appliance packages feature a premium quality Blomberg refrigerator, AEG black ceramic glass cooktop with easy to clean touch controls and wall-mounted convention ovens by the same manufacturer (apartment size in the smaller units). Also included is a Panasonic stainless steel microwaves and a slim-profile slide-out range hood in many of the homes. In some units, there is the added convenience of a flexible kitchen island that can be moved around as desired. Also featured in some two-bedroom units is a workspace that can double as a computer station.

In the bathrooms, LED accent lighting positioned under cantilevered vanities provides a dramatic impact and glamour one normally associates with higher-end hotel facilities. In all master bathrooms, as well as in some larger two-bedroom suites, the toilet is separated from the sink and shower/bath spaces. Units also feature built-in linen closets. All homes feature Maytag front-load washers and dryers. The complex also includes a fitness centre, indoor lap pool and hot tub with a sundeck and a garden terrace. A plus for residents is that these amenities are optional for residents and are maintained by the hotel and not through strata maintenance fees.

That arrangement helps to keep resident costs down to about 33 cents a square foot a month or about $170 a month for the 510-square-foot one-bedroom suite. The same opt-in option is available to residents who would like to rent co-working office space, the rooftop garden for events and such à la carte services as housekeeping and room service. A building utility will provide heating and hot water that is separately metered to each of the residences, rather than included in strata fees. Supplementing that, Century Group proposes to connect to Surrey’s District Energy System, which uses a geo-exchange field constructed underneath the civic plaza.

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