Weekly Buzz: New residential and office developments

Western Canada's top commercial real estate stories, featuring coverage on Lower Mainland and Saskatoon commercial projects

Western Investor
March 22, 2019



The week’s top stories cover new developments from Vancouver to Saskatoon. In the Lower Mainland, two large-scale residential developments in their proposal stage are received mixed opinions from their respective city council, while a site sale near a future pipeline is sparking talks of revitalization in Fort St. John. In Saskatoon, a major office development is in the works.

Here is Western Investor’s pick of the most buzz-worthy commercial real estate stories published this week.


Burquitlam development will deliver 1,200 new housing units – Tri-City News

Four towers and one low-rise building has been proposed to be built at Clarke Road and Como Lake Avenue in Coquitlam.

A development company has revealed plans for a four-tower project with nearly 1,200 units at one of Burquitlam’s busiest corners.

Although its application is in the early stages, Intergulf Development Group presented its initial plans for a land assembly it is doing for the northeast corner of Clarke Road and Como Lake Avenue to Coquitlam council on March 11.

Although Intergulf has yet to make a rezoning application, its initial proposal is for three condo towers of 40, 33 and 26 storeys containing 842 units. In addition, Intergulf is proposing to build a 30-storey tower with 293 market-rental apartments and a five-storey building containing 44 non-market rental apartments. It would also have a 5,000 sq. ft. private child care facility with space for 37 children, and ground-floor retail.

Most of council’s concerns about the project centred around parking entrances and exits, especially since it’s at a heavily used intersection on a triangular-shaped property.

“I suspect we’re going to end up with traffic being a main point of contention,” said Mayor Richard Stewart.

Intergulf vice president of development Michael Mortensen told Stewart the site currently has low-rise apartment buildings containing 161 rental units and a strata building with about 40 units. He also said although there has not been a neighbourhood meeting about the company’s plans the current residents are being kept in the loop.

Mortensen said the high density is appropriate since it’s only a block away from the Burquitlam SkyTrain station.

Coun. Bonita Zarrillo said what Intergulf is proposing resembles lifeless high-rise projects in Eastern Canada.

“This development is reminding me of some of the ones around Toronto,” said Zarrillo. “This is one of the things that frustrates me. We hear about how many units, but we don’t hear about who lives there and how they are going to afford to live there.

“There’s not a sense of ownership for the public space, and they get disconnected with the space when it gets taken over by entities.

[Tri-City News]


Vancouver Heritage Commission critical of Holy Rosary Cathedral reno proposal – Vancouver Courier

The Heritage Commission has raised concerns about redeveloping the non-church portion of site.

It’s unclear what will happen to a Holy Rosary Cathedral proposal to seismically and structurally upgrade the church, located at 646 Richards St., after the Vancouver Heritage Commission raised concerns about the project during a recent review. Holy Rosary’s renovation plan includes building a 23-storey tower on the portion of the property behind the cathedral, for office and church uses, to help fund the upgrading work.

The proposal is only at the development permit inquiry stage, so a formal application hasn’t been filed. The commission reviewed the project Feb. 25 after City of Vancouver staff determined it had enough merit to go before the panel, which serves as an advisory body to city staff and council.

The commission concluded, among other things, based on the minutes of the meeting, that it couldn’t support plans to redevelop the non-church portion of the Holy Rosary site where the rectory and Rosary Hall are located.

It passed a resolution with several clauses, including that the applicant “explore means by which at least partial retention of the rectory, the Rosary Hall and the elevations along Richards Street can be retained.”

It’s now up to the church whether to incorporate the commission’s advice or proceed with an application. City staff only make recommendations and do a full review of a project once a formal application is received.

In response to several questions the Courier posed about the proposal and next steps, Holy Rosary’s rector, Rev. Stanley Galvon, emailed this statement:

“We are reviewing the comments and suggestions from the Heritage Commission with our consultants and City staff and intend to prepare a response within the next few months. Once that is complete, we will be able to identify a path going forward, including the timeline, preliminary costs, etc.,” he wrote.

The project

The property at 646 Richards St. is zoned Downtown District – Comprehensive Development. The maximum height permitted in this part of downtown is 300 feet.

Holy Rosary’s proposal involves seismically and structurally upgrading the Cathedral and redeveloping the portion of the property where the rectory and youth activity centre (Rosary Hall) are located. A 23-storey tower, featuring five storeys for church activity space, and 18 floors on top of that for commercial space, would help fund the upgrading and heritage conservation work.

The property has been associated with the Catholic Church for more than a century.

A small wooden church was built on the site of the current rectory in 1885, according to information on Holy Rosary’s website. In 1899, the parish began building the current Cathedral to accommodate growth. The Gothic Revival building opened Dec. 9, 1900, but hasn’t had any major structural work done on it since then.

[Vancouver Courier]


Fort St. John clears old hotel site for sale and potential development – Western Investor

The surplus land sale is located near the LNG pipeline project.

Real estate investors looking for a foothold in the path of the biggest pipeline project in B.C. may want to check out at a surplus land sale in Fort St. John.

Fort St. John city council has formally declared the former Condill Hotel property as “surplus” and directed city staff to secure a real estate agent to ready it for sale and redevelopment.

Putting the land on the market is the final stage in the property’s redevelopment, staff say.

 “The revitalization of our downtown is a key strategic objective for the citizens of Fort St. John,” city manager Dianne Hunter wrote in an administrative report. “The purchase and subsequent demolition of the Condill Hotel was a generational opportunity to start the transformation of our downtown.”

The property has been vacant since the hotel, built in 1942 to house American soldiers during Alaska Highway construction, was demolished last spring.

The city bought it in 2017 and increased its spend on the project from $1.5 million to $2.15 million, though a final report on the demolition has yet to be brought before council.

The Condill land, covering three lots, is valued at $426,000, according to the latest BC Assessment records.

Jennifer Decker, the city’s economic development manager, will administer the sale of the property. Any new development will be subject to new downtown zoning and building rules.

The city’s old fire hall is also on the market, priced at $758,000.

Fort St. John is considered a pivotal city for development of the Coastal GasLink pipeline being built to supply LNG Canada’s massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal at Kitimat.

[Western Investor]


$300-million River Landing project to redefine Saskatoon office space – Western Investor

The project will bring about 360,000 square feet of triple-A office space to the city’s downtown from 2019 to 2022.

Saskatoon’s $300-million River Landing project will bring about 360,000 square feet of triple-A office space to the city’s downtown from 2019 to 2022, and is expected to create a ripple effect the sector has rarely – if ever – seen before.

The pending “seismic” changes expected in the market have convinced Colliers International to reclassify Saskatoon’s office inventory and include medical office buildings for the first time.

Triple-A space is defined as being a landmark property with more than 100,000 square feet, and with the highest-quality materials and finishes, a unique architectural design and commanding the highest rents in the market.

It’s safe to say River Landing qualifies on all fronts.

Its East Tower will add 156,000 square feet of prime space to the inventory in late 2019 while sister building Nutrien Tower will bring another 206,000 square feet when it opens its doors in 2022. Combined, they will increase office space in the city’s downtown by more than 13 per cent.

Saskatoon’s office market has an overall vacancy rate of 10.5 per cent, which compares favourably with many other cities with populations less than 1 million. Both Halifax and Waterloo, for example, are more than 15 per cent while Winnipeg is less than 8 per cent.

[Western Investor]

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