Sneak peek at Surrey's tallest building shows some great views

Surrey’s tallest building won’t open its doors for more than three months but it already dominates the city’s skyline.

The 3 Civic Tower, which is more than 50 storeys tall, is nearing completion

It's quite a view from the top of the 3 Civic Tower, now the tallest building in Surrey. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

Surrey's tallest building won't open its doors for more than three months but it already dominates the city's skyline.

The 3 Civic Tower, which is right next door to city hall, stretches more than 50 storeys into the sky.

It will feature a hotel, five floors of space for Kwantlen Polytechnic University and condo units.

Mayor Linda Hepner says the building is the centrepiece of the downtown core she's trying to build up on the north end of King George Boulevard.

"We will be a regional core, financial district with the financial growth we've seen over the last few years and a university district," Hepner said.

Hotel general manager Franklin Jackson says he's hoping to cash in on the increasing number of corporate offices that are moving to Surrey.

Southeast view from the top of the tower. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

"It's a growing neighbourhood. It's the future and it's an uptrend," he said.

"We reckon that as businesses are growing and the city is expanding, the hotel is looking at more business travellers."

Building challenges

Building a skyscraper isn't easy, and the construction crew ran into two major challenges with the project.

"The city has a geothermal system and its well is 300 feet deep," said project manager David Bowyer.

"When we were doing our excavation, we have to shore it and we had anchors that were coming into that well system. We had to make sure we threaded 300 anchors through their system without hitting any geothermal wells."

Bowyer says another issue was one portion of the building was so close to the SkyTrain track that they could only work on it in the early morning hours.

View from the ground outside the 3 Civic Tower. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

Project critics

The tower is being built a block and a half away from Surrey's notorious 135A Street strip, where poverty, drug use and mental illness are rampant.

Homeless advocate Erin Schulte says the city should be less concerned with shiny new towers and more concerned with providing affordable housing and social services.

"I didn't even know there was a hotel being built and I just am like, yet another building being put up and we can't do one thing to house even a fraction of the people on 135A," Schulte said.

"I just don't see any of my people moving off the street."

Hepner says she is working toward finding solutions to those problems.

"We're looking at supportive models that aren't necessarily the same as they have been traditionally," she said.

"I'm very encouraged that the provincial government is now talking about the numbers of supportive housing units that are needed around this region, and we are going to be a very steady player in helping them achieve what they're trying to do."