Vancouver-based CIBT Education Group Inc, the owner of Sprott Shaw College, has achieved approval for its Global Education Mega Centre, a massive residential and school complex that will be one of the tallest towers in Surrey.
Surrey council approved the 49-storey mix of schools and student housing February 7.
The tower will be constructed at 10240 City Parkway, adjacent to the Surrey City Centre SkyTrain station and just steps away from Simon Fraser and Kwantlen Polytechnic campus locations.
The development will include 41 floors of student and market rental housing, a cafeteria-style restaurant, food store and amenity floors available to all students studying and living in the building. Up to 1,000 students will be able to take an elevator to class, according to CBIT.
An estimated 642,000 foreign students contribute $22 billion to the Canadian economy, with more than 100,000 studying in the Lower Mainland. There are hundreds of public and private post-secondary schools in Metro Vancouver, and 72 of them are already using GEC’s rental facilities as their housing provider.
CBIT president and CEO Toby Chu told Western Investor in 2019, as plans for the Surrey tower were being finalized, that he came up with the concept of blending real estate and education on a flight from Toronto when he hit upon the revelation that airlines were making more money on cargo than on passengers.
“I took the same concept,” Chu said. “International students are after education first but housing is the Number 2 priority.”
Although the pandemic has caused a lag in face-to-face learning, foreign students don’t want online learning. They want the experience of interacting with the Canadian culture and students from other countries – not a computer, Chu explained.
Besides social behavior, many programs such as health care, trade skills and hotel management require extensive clinical hands-on learning, according to a CBIT statement.
CIBT Education Group operates, has under construction or is developing 11 projects involving 16 student-centric rental buildings in Metro Vancouver with a total gross area of 1.5 million square feet. The company has seven residential building operational with 19 school campuses. Surrey’s Global Education Mega Centre will be the first fully integrated student housing and school complex.
CIBT’s template is to purchase a site, partner with a developer to build a school campus and residential towers, lease out other space to schools and related businesses and rent hundreds of suites as student housing.
“We build, we fill them and then we sell the property,” Chu told Western Investor. CBIT is then often contracted to manage the real estate. Aside from Surrey, CBIT is also developing a mega global education centre in Vancouver’s Oakridge area.