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New 32-storey office tower set for Vancouver

Joint venture with Reliance Properties is first step into Vancouver by Texas-based mega-developer Hines
New tower for 1166 West Pender opens in 2024 or 2025. | Reliance Properties

Reliance Properties of Vancouver has teamed with Texas-based Hines, one of the largest private real estate developers in the world, to announce a new 32-storey office tower at 1166 West Pender Street in downtown Vancouver.

This will be Hines’ first project in Vancouver, and the partnership is seen as the most notable office activity in Vancouver since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak more than a year ago.

“Reliance and Hines initiated and completed the partnership during the global pandemic, and our joint project will be the first post-COVID-19 office tower delivered in Vancouver that prioritizes health, safety and wellness into the design in a way not yet seen,” said Jon Stovell, president and CEO of Reliance Properties.

The site is the former Vancouver office for the Canada Revenue Service. That 140,000 square foot building will be demolished to make way for the new 361,000-square-foot Class AAA tower.

One of the major focal points of the project,and unique to Vancouver, will be the tower’s uppermost floors. The V-shaped top nine levels will feature private outdoor terraces, increasing new health, safety and wellness protocols. Underground parking will prioritize employee wellness with more bike stalls than parking stalls.

“Hines is one of the premier office builders in the world,” said Robert Levine, a partner and office specialist with commercial brokerage Avison Young, Vancouver, “I know Hines has been looking at the Vancouver market for years. I think it is a great testament to Vancouver that they are coming into the city now.”

Hines, headquarterd in Houston, currently has 165 developments underway around the world. Its property and asset management portfolio includes 576 commercial and residential properties, representing more than 246 million square feet, including approximately 13 million square feet in Canada.

“We chose Vancouver because we believe in its world-class economy and future, and this partnership was a natural fit because of Reliance Properties’ commendable track record and our shared values,” said Syl Apps, senior managing director for Hines. The company currently has Canadian operations in Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton.

A CBRE official called the announcement “a major boost in confidence.”

“Vancouver’s downtown office market activity has returned to approximately 85 per cent normal, albeit mostly small transactions,” said Blair Quinn, vice chairman of CBRE’s Vancouver commercial brokerage office.

According to Avison Young, the downtown vacancy rate as of the end of 2020 was 6.6 per cent, up from 4.4 per cent a year earlier, with more than 1.5 million square feet vacant, including about 560,000 square feet of excess space shoved back onto the market as subleases since the pandemic began.

“We know how important [safety and wellnes] will be to employees as they return to the office post-COVID-19 – and our objective was to design a building in partnership with Reliance that best helps our tenants attract and retain the highest-quality employees and talent in the Vancouver market,” Apps added.

The tower will target LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) WELL (a standard for advancing health and well-being in buildings) and WiredScore (improving tenant health through sustainable design and operational strategies) certifications.

There is no pre-leases signed as yet in the new tower, which is scheduled to complete in late 2024 or early 2025.