Surrey swaps Sunnyside site for bigger chunk of land
The South Surrey property currently occupied by Sunnyside Elementary has been traded by the school district as partial payment for a larger chunk of land in the Cloverdale/Clayton area of Surrey.
The value of the deal has not been disclosed – it isn't expected to complete until spring of 2014 – but the developers involved, and Surrey School District secretary treasurer Wayne Noye, agree the innovative exchange is a win-win for everyone.
"They're getting about four times the size of the Sunnyside land," said Ted Dawson, spokesperson for the Surrey-based developers, LYPD Holdings Ltd. and Lakewood Madrona Development Ltd.
Noye said the Sunnyside Elementary site was also very attractive to the developers, and that the exchange was based on appraised values, with a difference still to be made up by the district.
"When you go to try to find land and assemble land, particularly with the market the way it is, you have to think outside the box and be creative," Noye said, noting that Clayton, like Grandview, is a current "hot spot" for the district, which, given Surrey's population growth, faces a constant demand for new schools.
"It didn't come easy – you've got developers in there, everyone in there," he said of the Cloverdale/Clayton parcel.
"There was give and take on both sides – it took a long time, about three to five months, to put together," he added, noting that Surrey school board has expressed its appreciation of the work district staff put in.
The 18.5 acre Cloverdale/Clayton parcel is the same land that was highlighted in a Feb. 15 announcement by the province as the site of a new high school. No other properties are involved in the agreement.
The province is committing $10.5 million toward a $16.7 million new high school with the district to fund the remainder.
The school district approached the developers regarding the site about a year ago, Dawson said. The group had purchased the property to hold it for future development, and was initially reluctant to get involved in the deal, he said.
"It's very difficult to get developable land in Surrey that makes sense," he said.
Noye said having the old Sunnyside Elementary property to put on the table was an advantage for the district.
"When dealing with developers, cash is nice, but they really like land," he said.
"Lakewood was very understanding of our predicament – it was a case of let's talk and see what we can do. Lakewood was a real class act through all of this. The social good they're bringing to the table will also be beneficial to them in the long run."
Both Noye and Surrey School District spokesperson Doug Strachan told Peace Arch News they do not know what the developers have in mind for the current Sunnyside Elementary site at 15250 28 Ave.
Dawson said no moves to develop the property will be made until the new Sunnyside Elementary, currently under construction at 2828 159 St., opens. The school is slated for occupancy in January 2014.
"We were not going to jeopardize the school community and they (Lakewood) were very understanding of that," said Noye.
Dawson promised that nothing for the old Sunnyside Elementary site will be initiated without community consultation first.
"It is important to us to have a positive impact on the community," Dawson said.
"We're going to look at everything."
-with files from Tracy Holmes