The massive King George Hub transit-oriented development in Surrey has reached another milestone as PCI Developments moves forward to complete the project, which it says is responding to burgeoning housing demand in the region.
Upon full build-out, King George Hub will comprise 370,000 square feet of office, 140,000 square feet of retail, 1,624 condo homes, and 771 rental homes – all within steps of rapid transit.
Tim Grant, the president of PCI Developments which is spearheading the five-phase, mixed-use project, said King George Hub has 738 condo units and 371 rental homes complete so far. Also delivered are 350,000 square feet of office space and 130,000 square feet of retail space, including Save-On Foods, Rexall and a wide range of food and beverage and service businesses.
Office anchors include headquarters for Coast Capital Savings and Westland Insurance.
The first three phases have been completed and were celebrated on Wednesday at a news conference.
Meeting Surrey’s housing demand
Currently under construction, King George Hub’s fourth phase will bring an additional 886 condos and 30,000 square feet of office and retail space. Grant said the fourth phase is expected to be complete in 2025.
In early 2023, construction will start on the fifth phase that will deliver an additional 400 rental homes. Grant said the fifth phase should be completed in 2026.
Grant said the overall project is about a $1.1- to $1.2-billion investment.
“Surrey is one of the country’s fastest-growing cities and is projected to surpass Vancouver in terms of population within the next 10 years,” he said. “King George is in the heart of what they call Surrey City Centre, which is a quickly developing downtown core for Surrey.”
The project was named best mixed-use development by the NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Awards for 2022.
PCI Developments purchased the land, about 11 acres, adjacent to the station 10 years ago when it was a single oversized block consisting of a parking lot and two small, obsolete buildings. Grant said the property was purchased from a family that had owned it for many years.
“By all measures, this land was under-utilized, even though the Expo Line started service in the area in 1994,” said Grant. “Now and into the future, King George Hub will be an active, desirable community that exemplifies how progressive land-use planning and stakeholder collaboration can utilize scarce rapid transit infrastructure to catalyze vibrant, complete and connected communities that encourage sustainable lifestyles and transportation choices with significant opportunities for housing and job space.”
Encouraging transit usage
On Wednesday, a community celebration was held and PCI and TransLink launched a unique joint pilot program to encourage and understand transit usage.
PCI will purchase and distribute 250 fare cards to people who live and work at King George Hub. The cards will be preloaded with $150, and TransLink will study whether this program incentivizes increased transit use among participants. This data will help TransLink and municipalities draw conclusions about the benefits of subsidizing transit use for transit-oriented communities across the region, said officials in a news release.
“TransLink is always looking for creative opportunities to promote transit use and build more sustainable, transit-oriented communities,” said Kevin Quinn, TransLink CEO, in a statement. “This innovative pilot will give us vital data that can be applied to potential future partnerships throughout Metro Vancouver.”
Grant said PCI, based in downtown Vancouver, has been in business for 40 years.
“All of what we’re doing is in the Lower Mainland,” Grant explained. “Really, the work we’re doing is largely the City of Vancouver but also in the City of Surrey and our real key focus is transit-oriented development. We’ve been . . . one of the early adopters of that and really been very focused on that throughout Vancouver for the last 20 years,”
PCI’s focus on mixed-use development
He said the company is predominantly focused on mixed-use developments in an urban context, but it also has both office and retail developments.
Grant said when the company examined regions around the world with similar characteristics to Vancouver, with a constrained land mass and a relatively urban lifestyle and population, the importance of rapid transit was emerged as being critical.
“Generally, people wanted to live and work and shop right on transit as much as possible. That really is, in our view, a real anchor to thriving communities. As the world’s evolved and climate and environment become increasingly important, that anchor that’s provided at a transit station is as important as ever,” he said.
Grant said the company will have a few rezoning applications coming up this fall for other transit-oriented development along some of the new stations on the Broadway Line extension.
“We’re also involved in a number of rental developments in the City of Vancouver on arterial streets . . . And we’ve got a planning process kicking off in another development in Surrey later this fall,” he said.