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Brand spanking Newton

Festival Street in Newton is part of an vision unveiled for the Town Centre two years ago. - File
Festival Street in Newton is part of an vision unveiled for the Town Centre two years ago.
— image credit: File

The city is coordinating a full-court-press for the redevelopment of the troubled Newton Town Centre, with its vortex at about 72 Avenue and King George Boulevard.

It's been two years since Surrey unveiled a bold new vision for the troubled area, but since then, not much has happened by way of private development required to make the vision a reality.

The plan called for rows of canopy tents to line Festival Street, which would lead south from Newton Wave Pool.

The yet-to-be built Main Street will stretch from what is now 137 Street (north of 72 Avenue) to a new bus exchange integrated with a new urban neighbourhood.

Part of the freshly completed concept is to have a walkable, pedestrian-friendly community created out of what is now primarily home to the car.

The southern anchor to the area includes a 3.2 hectare (eight acre) green space to the south which will provide an area for a detention pond, walking trails, a riparian area and a 1.3 hectare (three acre) park.

The challenge has been attracting investors to the area to help make it happen.

The first significant development promised in the area came two years ago in the form of a casino. The proponents flipped the land after rezoning, but now the new owners are talking about something bigger than previously thought.

And Mayor Dianne Watts is planning to launch civic initiatives to attract investment to the area.

She has instructed the city's Investment and Innovation Committee to explore how an Economic Investment Zone would work in Newton.

Three years ago, Watts announced similar zones in City Centre and Bridgeview.

Under the scheme, business-related developments of $10 million or more received three years free of municipal property taxes and a reduction in development cost charges (DCC) and building permit fees.

Residential developments of $50 million or more in those areas also got a break on DCCs and building permit fees.

The committee will discuss what the required investments would need to be for a similar break in Newton.

Coun. Marvin Hunt chairs the Investment and Innovation Committee and says it's time for some "good positive development in Newton."

Some has occurred and some is on the books, but the committee will see if it can spark some redevelopment.

The committee will decide what the investment threshold needs to be, but Hunt thinks it will likely be something less than the $10 million required in City Centre.

"I would be thinking Newton would be a little be lower than that, that would be my thoughts on that," Hunt said. "It would have to be something substantive, it couldn't be somebody doing a one-storey tilt-up thing."

Watts said it's high time something is done to attract some investment into Newton.

"We've been limping along with Newton for quite some time," she said. "And for me it's very frustrating."

As to what the boundaries of the zone will be, Watts said that will largely be up to the committee, however, she believes it will stretch down to 64 Avenue and King George Boulevard to include the old Surrey Public Market, which is currently under redevelopment.

The Investment and Innovation committee will be discussing the plans on May 24.

@diakiw

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