SURREY-LANGLEY SKYTRAIN BUSINESS CASE APPROVED
On January 30th, the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation endorsed the Business Case for the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain Project. This is a major milestone for the project, giving the team direction to take it to senior governments for approval and allowing for a timeline to be announced. The first phase of the project, a 7 kilometre extension down Fraser Highway from King George Station into Fleetwood, is expected to be complete in 2025. The second phase of the project, an additional 9 kilometre extension into Langley City, is still pending funding.
The business case outlines how the project will help address issues including climate change, housing affordability, economic development and the region’s increasing population. According to the report, it is expected that “by 2050, the City of Surrey, City of Langley, and the Township of Langley will welcome 420,000 new residents and 147,000 new jobs”. Identifying these areas as a priority for rapid transit improvements will help “address current challenges and support planned future growth”.
The planned growth is already being formalized. After the business case was approved, the City of Surrey immediately started updating the following area plans to support the SkyTrain: City Centre, West Clayton, East Clayton, North Cloverdale East, North Cloverdale and Fleetwood. More about these plan updates and the City of Surrey’s planning priorities can be found in this recent Surrey Council News report.
Generally, the SkyTrain will trigger more density in the areas near future stations. This can already be seen in a new development proposal submitted by Bucci Investment Corporation for a mixed-use, transit-oriented development at 16065-16099 Fraser Highway. The site is immediately east of 160 Street, where a station for the future SkyTrain is planned. The proposal includes 1,320 residential units and nearly 87,000 square feet of commercial space across 3 towers ranging from 40 to 57 storeys, which would be a considerable height for the region.
SKYTRAIN’S IMPACT ON COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE IN FLEETWOOD, CLAYTON & SURREY CITY CENTRE
How the future Surrey-Langley SkyTrain line will, and already has, impacted commercial real estate along the route:
- Increased Property Values
The SkyTrain will bring new high-density development to the area eventually but more immediately both residential and commercial property values are expected to increase due to speculation and, once the new land use plans are adopted, the increased density allowed on certain properties.
- Retail and Office Lease Rates
Rising property values will cause retail and office lease rates to also go up. As development starts to occur, retail and office lease rates will continue to increase due to high demand in the area. How dramatically these rates change will depend on the amount of new commercial real estate coming to the market. Either way, commercial nodes near the SkyTrain will become more sought after due to increased foot traffic and easier accessibility for customers and employees.
- Increase in Population & Accessibility
An increase in residents near your business is an increase in your potential customer/client base. In the next 40 years, Clayton Heights’ population is expected to rise to 75,000 residents, a leap from the 18,000 today. Fleetwood is expected to house 110,000 residents, an increase from the 65,000 in the neighbourhood today. These new residents will require services, shopping and a variety of amenities. The SkyTrain will also connect these neighbourhoods with communities further afield, making your business more accessible to a larger population. This accessibility can also help attract and retain employees.
Construction of the SkyTrain itself and surrounding developments may negatively impact businesses in the short term but, ultimately, the increased access and density will be beneficial.
Considering moving near a future SkyTrain station?
Getting in “on the ground floor” of an up and coming neighbourhood can help you secure lower lease rates or purchase price but there are a few things to be aware of. Current lease opportunities in existing buildings may have demolition clauses included which means that if the owner, or a new owner, wants to demolish the building then the lease is void. For this reason, looking to pre-lease in new, approved developments may be a more long term solution. Retaining a commercial real estate broker to help navigate through this process, and assure you’re protected, is highly recommended.