Vancouver’s Office Squeeze

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With Crossroads on Cambie and Broadway set to open up soon, it brings up a good question. Where have all the offices gone? The suburbs? Definitely not, if you look at the vacancy rates of class A office space in Surrey (near 20%) it’s clear that class A office space users prefer to stay within the urban core of Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond and the North Shore.

Even though the past several years we have witnessed an economic boom in our proovince, the number of office tower projects were few, Shaw Tower and the addition to Bentall 5 being the most notable. Most notably downtown Vancouver, which adopted the living first strategy in the 1990’s has seen close to 60,000 new residents move in. This has led to a resortification of our fair city. Is this a good thing? Or do we need a more balance of jobs and condos in the downtown core and Uptown?

Realizing this, the city has come up with a metro core jobs initiative to ensure that office projects can be done in the central business district (CBD). Also this has led to an expanded the CBD. There is a need for more office space now and into the future, regardless of how the economy is doing. There are many rumoured projects as well as possible tenants looking for space.

For instance, Lululemon a proud Vancouver start-up that has done exceptionally well in North America was expected to take the 8 floors of office space at the nearly completed Crossroads development. That’s roughly 80,000 sq ft. and 350 employees. However there are rumors abound that City Hall needs the space and has approached Lululemon to sublease it to them.

This is understandable as our art deco city hall is far too small to keep up with the bureaucracy of our fair city.

Founder Chip Wilson is adamantly wanting to keep the Global headquarters in Vancouver. Thus, Lululemon may possibly be seeking Office space at the recently approved Bentall 6 tower on Alberni and Thurlow (across the Shangri-La Hotel, currently Sport Mart). Whatever the case may be, the office squeeze that we have experienced the last little while seems to be loosening up. With Tenants like Lululemon, EA and others looking for AAA office space within the city.

Fact is the city is growing and we need to have more better paying office jobs. Our small businesses that have thrived are now growing up as Lululemon’s of the world demand more space. The last thing you want to see is the companies bolt to Calgary like they did this past decade. Chalk that up to unfriendly business practices by our previous provincial government. Thank the Liberals for trying to reverse the trend. The city has also shifted the tax burdens on residents to create a balance between business and residential taxes.

There is no doubt in my mind that Vancouverites are extremely talented, just look at our small business, some of the best run in the country. We need to nurture their growth from small to mid to large corporations. Other notable office developments are in the pipeline but I can not speak on them right now. Developing…

(photo courtesy of SFU Vancouver)

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