January 13, 2016 10:29 pm
Updated: January 13, 2016 11:50 pm

Commercial real estate holds strong in Metro Vancouver

WATCH: A new report says Canada's slumping dollar is giving a big boost to Metro Vancouver commercial and industrial real estate. John Hua explains.


BURNABY – They call her the “queen of converted warehouse space.”

That’s because Diane Cross-Massey is picking up industrial space in Metro Vancouver at a frantic pace, trying to fill the need of a booming film industry.

“I’ve got three spaces right now and two more that I’m negotiating on,” Cross-Massey says outside the Crossing Studios in north Burnaby.

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She says the low Canadian dollar has sent an influx of production north across the border, forcing her to not only find industrial space but offices as well to give production staff and crews somewhere to work.

Colliers International points to a strong industrial market in the fourth quarter of 2015 with lower vacancies and larger inventory compared to the previous year. It says that despite more than 5 million additional square feet of industrial space currently under construction, it is not expected to keep up with the growing demand.

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A diverse and evolving office market is also holding strong. The vacancy rate rose only 0.1 per cent since the third quarter despite the market seeing an influx of 2.1 million additional square feet in the past 12 months.

“Many experts were forecasting Armageddon, high vacancy rates and plunging rental rates,” says Colliers International managing director Maury Dubuque. “That hasn’t been the case.”

Dubuque says a big reason was timing. The building cycle for many office spaces had surpassed 25 years, leading many professional and tech firms to look for new space.

Bull, Housser and Tupper LLP is nearing its 125th anniversary. It’s new offices in downtown Vancouver eschewed perimeter offices and grand oak doors in favour of an open concept, clean lines and minimalist aesthetic.

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The low loonie is also attracting many tech firms like Amazon, Microsoft and Sony to Metro Vancouver.

“Where it’s at now, Vancouver and Canada in general are a very, very attractive choice for global capital,” Dubuque said.

The final part of the equation is the evolution of certain spaces. Owners are retrofitting different spaces to fit the needs of new tenants.

Roundhouse Radio is located in an old warehouse in Railtown where safety equipment was once manufactured.

“Most radio stations are in small little cubicles and very tiny spaces,” said Don Schaefer, the station’s general manager. “We’ve been careful to make sure it was a really collaborative space.”

“There’s no doors on any of the offices,” he added.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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