Vancouver’s Office Boom?

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Last week we announced that Telus is planning to move its headquarters back to Vancouver. After decades straddling the Vancouver/Burnabyborder, one of B.C.’s largest companies plans on building a 22 floor office tower in downtown Vancouver

(see the article and renderings for the $500 million development here).

That isn’t the only office tower being touted for the City of Vancouver. In downtown alone there are plans to build five, possibly six office towers in the next five to 10 years. That is quite the significant statement being made by the marketplace.

Microsoft, who two years ago opened up an office in Richmond, just finished a move to Yaletown. HSBC is another company that consolidated its suburban workforce to a centralized downtown location.

During the boom times there was office space added to the core, however the majority of it was in the form of mixed commercial/residential developments. For instance, the Jameson House development and the Private Residences at Hotel Georgia both contain office components but the majority of the project was residential. Thus, further perpetuating the bedroom community myth (c’mon 400,000 people work in Vancouver, majority downtown, hardly a bedroom community). Therefore, the recent announcements are definitely a step in the right direction and could once and for all squash the notion that Vancouver is a bedroom community.

While office vacancies are at 4% in Vancouver, they are nearing 20% in the suburbs like Richmond and Surrey. Conclusion, the future doesn’t live in Surrey, it leaves there. No matter how hard Dianne Watts tries to make it a desirable place it is unlikely it will happen in the next 100 years or so.

Downtown Vancouver isn’t the only beneficiary of this office boom, as part of the Marine Drive Gateway project in South Vancouver contains a 15-floor office tower. Furthermore, the Broadway Tech Centre in East Vancouver continues to steal business from Richmond as BCLC has joined Nintendo of Canada in moving to the office development near the Renfrew SkyTrain Station from its previous suburban Richmond location.

The writing is on the wall for the suburbs. In the new knowledge-based economy, people prefer to work in a desirable location. Surrey is far from desirable, it isn’t deplorable, but you couldn’t pay me enough to work there and many of my colleagues feel the same.

No doubt the City of Vancouver’s recent policy changes have played a major part in bringing office work back to Vancouver. Let’s hope they don’t mess things up.

Source (Globe and Mail)

image: http://www.tombodhireeves.com/newsletter/

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