Amazon and Oxford Properties have inked a long-rumoured office lease in Vancouver which will allow the e-commerce giant to double its workforce from 1,000 to 2,000 in the West Coast city.
The announcement isn’t the highly coveted second headquarters Amazon is planning to build – the so-called HQ2 which received 238 bids from cities and regions across North America – but it is a significant addition to the city’s office market.
The new office at the downtown intersection of Dunsmuir Street and Homer Street is scheduled to open in 2020 and will be Amazon’s second in Vancouver. Designed by B + H Architects, the new building will feature 150,000 square feet of office space.
“People are what make places; we are proud that Amazon’s talented team will keep growing in Vancouver with Oxford,” said Claire McIntyre, vice-president of Oxford Properties, when contacted by RENX.
However, McIntyre said she was not able to discuss any details of the lease or Oxford’s relationship with Amazon.
5,000 Amazon employees in Canada
Amazon currently employs more than 5,000 across Canada at sites in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.
It’s the second major announcement by Amazon in the past week – both in Western Canada.
The company is also expanding its operations into Alberta, where it will build a 600,000-square-foot distribution centre in Balzac, just north of Calgary. That facility, which will be in the Nose Creek Business Park, will create up to 750 full-time jobs.
It is expected to be built in about a year.
“Amazon is excited to continue growing our workforce throughout Canada,” Alexandre Gagnon, vice-president of Amazon Canada and Mexico, said in a release Friday announcing the Vancouver office lease. “We are among the largest employers of software engineers in Canada and look forward to continuing to create new job opportunities for Canadians.”
The Vancouver operation is staffed mainly with software development engineers, and Gagnon said Friday the bulk of the new hires will also work in this area.
Rumours of a major expansion by Amazon in Vancouver have been circulating for several months.
Major presence in British Columbia
In addition to its existing office in Vancouver, Amazon employs more than 500 British Columbians at its fulfillment centres in Delta and New Westminster and also operates subsidiary Abebooks.com, based in Victoria.
It has also leased 76,000 square feet of space from WeWork, according to multiple published reports.
Friday’s confirmation of the expansion of the software engineering operations is another major boost for Vancouver, where office vacancy rates continue to plunge and the bulk of a new cycle of office projects is several years away from coming into the market.
In its Q2 Metro Vancouver office report, Colliers International said the vacancy rate had dipped from 7.5 to 7.3 per cent in just the past three months. The city had a net absorption of just over 850,000 square feet of space during Q1 and Q2.
In the downtown, vacancy is even tighter at 5.7 per cent with 140,510 square feet of absorption during Q2.
“Vancouver’s innovation economy is booming and it’s exciting to have Amazon expand here, adding valuable job space for 1,000 more employees,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson in the release.
“Vancouver’s leading the way with the fastest-growing, most resilient and greenest economy in Canada, and companies from all over the world, like Amazon, are moving to Vancouver with well-paying jobs to be a part of our success.”