Members of the public will have a chance to learn about a proposal for three buildings ranging in height from 12 to 24 storeys in Semiahmoo Town Centre. A second virtual information meeting is scheduled for today (Feb. 25) and full details are also available at www.aplinmartin.com/semiahmoo. (First Capital photo rendering)

Members of the public will have a chance to learn about a proposal for three buildings ranging in height from 12 to 24 storeys in Semiahmoo Town Centre. A second virtual information meeting is scheduled for today (Feb. 25) and full details are also available at www.aplinmartin.com/semiahmoo. (First Capital photo rendering)

Public voice concerns about Semiahmoo highrises during virtual meeting

Proposed development could be delayed by ‘marketing philosophy’

A virtual public information meeting Tuesday morning gave fewer than expected residents a first detailed look at a mixed-use development that would bring two highrises and a midrise to the northwest corner of Semiahmoo Town Centre.

A total of 21 people logged on to the Zoom meeting, said planner Anya Paskovic of Aplin & Martin Consultants, who are shepherding the application proposal through the approval process on behalf of client First Capital.

The site – stretching from 152 Street around the curve of 18 Avenue and Martin Drive to past Southmere Crescent – currently includes a Coast Capital Credit Union branch, a Dollar Tree dollar store and a Chevron gas station.

The development would create a 24-storey tower and a 21-storey tower, plus a 12-storey midrise building. It would also involve an extension of Southmere Crescent and would create a community park on Martin Drive.

Concerns raised in questions to a panel including First Capital development manager Simon Bajt, architect Tom Bunting of Formosis, Aplin & Martin planners, and Surrey city planners, were predictable.

READ ALSO: Semiahmoo Centre highrise application discussed

People wanted to know how infrastructure would be upgraded in preparation for the project, what allowance would be made for parking, whether water supply would be sufficient in case of a highrise fire, and whether the development would challenge Surrey Fire’s existing equipment.

They received assurances from City of Surrey planner Keith Broersma and community planner Kristen Lassonde that the project was being prepared in close consultation with the city on infrastructure needs, and that water and fire implications of the development would receive full review by city engineers and the fire department.

Bunting said the project would create 700 parking spaces to serve 600 units, would add improved sidewalks and upgrade trees and landscaping in the area. Aplin & Martin planner Stephen Hallingham also noted the project is being designed not to impact operations of the Semiahmoo Centre mall.

In pre-submitted questions, participants also wanted to know what the timeline for development was, whether all the buildings would be built at the same time, who would be the potential buyers of residential units, and whether rents for commercial tenants in the building would go up enough to create a ‘ghost town’ effect in the town centre.

They were told that First Capital, who filed the development application with Surrey in October 2019, were aiming to receive final approvals for the rezoning and development permit by the latter part of 2022.

But residents heard they might not see construction on the site begin immediately.

“It’s still up in the air,” Bajt said.

“We’re hoping to have third reading by the end of 2021… (but building) is dependent on marketing philosophy. It is market-driven. One building is likely to go (up) at a time.”

He said that while it was likely that commercial rents would go up over existing rates on the site, First Capital makes a policy of creating retail property that is “attractive” to clients.

Bunting said residential units in the building would provide a mix of options, with studio apartments representing around 15 per cent of units, one-bedroom apartments representing around 40 per cent of units. Around 30 per of units would have two or more bedrooms, he said.

Another virtual public information meeting is scheduled for Thursday (Feb. 25) from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., as a Zoom meeting accessible through www.aplinmartin.com/semiahmoo

In addition, the website can be visited any time up to March 11 for more information on the proposal and to fill out a comment form. For more information, email openhouse@aplinmartin.com

For those unable to access the internet, call 604-639-3456 for more information on how to participate.



alex.browne@peacearchnews.com

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