Vancouver mayor hails $200-million Credit Suisse office tower project for downtown financial district
TIFFANY CRAWFORD (VANCOUVER SUN) Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson helped break ground Thursday on a new $200-million, 31-storey Credit Suisse office tower in Vancouver’s financial district.
Robertson heralded the project as an end to the city’s business vacancy woes, as Vancouver remains one of North America’s tightest markets for office space.
Vancouver’s vacancy rate for class A office space is 5.3 per cent. That’s compared with 8.7 per cent in Montreal and 9.7 per cent in Edmonton. But according to commercial real estate specialists Cushman and Wakefield, Vancouver’s vacancy rate is projected to jump to 7.7 per cent this year and to 10.5 per cent in 2015.
The Exchange, which will be joined with the old Stock Exchange building at 475 Howe Street, built in 1929, will be the first LEED Platinum conversion of a heritage building in Canada. LEED Platinum is the highest designation for sustainable building design from the Canada Green Building Council.
It is the first B.C. venture for Credit Suisse and will provide 369,000 square feet of office space, or enough space for 1,700 workers.
Robertson said the tower will add much-needed office space in the downtown core and contribute to the city’s goal of becoming the greenest city in the world.
The six other office towers under construction are: Telus Garden at 448,000 square feet; 745 Thurlow at 365,000 square feet; 980 Howe at 250,000 square feet; The MNP Tower at 270,000 square feet; 725 Granville at 300,000 square feet; and Aqulini’s Tower at 180,000 square feet.
“When it comes to the strength of Vancouver’s office market, we’ve come a long way in the last five years,” Robertson said. “A few years ago our economy was being held back by a lack of space, we had a critical shortage, and it’s wonderful to see the market respond.”
He said the city has approved as much office space in the past four years as in the previous decade.
Until recently, the city was projecting a critical shortage of office space by 2031 if land-use policies remained the same. Robertson said new zoning bylaws enacted in 2009 helped get the new towers off the ground.
The seven new towers under construction downtown will provide 2.18 million square feet of new office space.
Robertson said Credit Suisse’s decision to build from the ground up in Vancouver signals that international corporations realize Vancouver is one of the strongest office markets in North America.
Franz Gehriger, CEO of SwissReal Group, said: “We are creating jobs in heart of Vancouver’s financial district and building one of the most sustainable workplaces in Canada.”
Renowned Swiss architect Harry Gugger, who is best known for the Tate Modern Gallery in London and Caixa Forum in Madrid, said he wanted to create a building that respects its immediate environment.
Gugger added that the old Stock Exchange building is “a refined and handsomely crafted building,” and said they tried to respect the heritage building as much as they could.
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