Vancouver Rail Extension Heightens Developer Interest in Langley.....

Train Line Set To Boost Already Fast-Growing Residential Area, Bring 50,000 Jobs Within Commuting Distance

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One of Vancouver’s fastest-growing suburbs is set to get another boost, and developers are taking note. Langley, a small city and surrounding township about 40 kilometres southeast of Vancouver, is on track to join the city's rail network by 2028 after a 16-kilometre extension saw its funding authorized by the provincial government last month.

Official estimates say the new TransLink line could bring upwards of 50,000 jobs within commuting distance of the suburb, which will link smaller Langley to Vancouver's urban core via nearby Surrey with an overall commute time of about an hour.

Developers and brokers say the line is already energizing growth in the area. "It's definitely a good thing for the region," said Jonathan Meads, vice president of StreetSide Developments, a Surrey-based subsidiary of Winnpeg developer Qualico, and a longtime resident of the area.

Interest in the area has intensified significantly since details of the extension became public, Meads said, with developers now actively looking for sites near future stations along the line.

“Especially along the SkyTrain route, ever since the concept was announced sites have been getting scooped up," said Shiv Garg, co-owner of Unimark Developments, a Surrey-based residential developer. "It will definitely boost the rental market."

Ravi Mann, director of finance and development at Surrey-based Isle of Mann Property Group, said the firm had recently launched a real estate investment trust specifically focused on land development in Surrey and Langley.

“We have seen through COVID a significant shift in people’s habits. People that lived in condos wanted to move up to townhouses, because there’s more outdoor space," said Meads, whose company developed Willoughby Town Centre in Langley in partnership with Chow & Li. "As a result of it, they're moving out of the downtown core.”

Population Growth

With preparations already in progress and major work slated to begin in 2024, the extension arrives with growth well underway in the Langley area, where multifamily vacancy rates had fallen below 1% by the start of 2022 after steadily dropping from above 4% in 2015, according to CoStar data.

The period saw Langley notch the steepest population growth of any of Vancouver’s suburbs, according to Statistics Canada census data released in February, growing just over 13% between 2016 and 2021.

Langley Township, which surrounds Langley’s own separate small city center, grew at the second-fastest rate of any municipality in the province, attracting about 132,600 new people, the census found. The line will connect Langley to the larger Vancouver area’s rail network, including making a direct connection to downtown Vancouver. The heart of the larger city’s commercial district will still be almost an hour away by train, according to TransLink service estimates.

As significant as the connection to the downtown core is the connection the link will provide to nearby Surrey, which will be cut by a more dramatic margin.

With a population of more than 500,000, Surrey is the nearest significant employment center to Langley. Travel times between Langley and Surrey will be halved thanks to the new service, which will cross the distance in about 22 minutes. The line will replace a bus journey of more than 40 minutes, according to TransLink.

That will put the total trip time to downtown Vancouver at just over an hour, even with the train.

"It's immeasurably quicker than a bus, which can be caught in traffic, and the other part is the volume of people you can get on a train," Meads said. “It’s just a no-brainer."

Beyond commuting all the way to the city's downtown, Meads also pointed out the line allows commuting to commercial centers in between, as well as reverse commutes, noting that even within his company's own Surrey office, some people commuted outward from the city to reach their jobs.

“It’s not something we’d originally foreseen, but it is happening," Meads said.


Source: CoStar News

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