Biotech firm PNI to anchor PC Urban’s Evolution Block

The PC Urban Evolution Block stacked industrial development in Vancouver’s False Creek Flats area. (Courtesy PC Urban)

PC Urban’s new Evolution Block stacked industrial development will become the global headquarters for growing locally based biotech firm Precision NanoSystems (PNI), the two companies announced this week.

PNI will lease 75,000 square feet over the top three floors of the 104,000-square-foot, four-storey Vancouver development. It is currently under construction and slated for occupancy in 2022.

Located on the former Able Auctions property in False Creek Flats, Evolution Block is the first stacked industrial project in the area. It includes warehouse, production and office space, common areas and a rooftop patio.

“This area of False Creek Flats was envisioned by the City of Vancouver to be an employment generating zone, and as we’ve seen with pandemic, there is significant growth in the life sciences industry and Vancouver is emerging as a life sciences hub,” said PC Urban CEO Brent Sawchyn in the announcement on Thursday.

“We’re excited to accommodate PNI on the doorstep to the new St. Paul’s (hospital) and the new hub for Vancouver’s life sciences community.

“The nature of stacked industrial so close to the core means that staff, customers and their future talent pool will live close by.”

Evolution block fully occupied

PC Urban is partnering with Nicola Wealth Real Estate on the development, which is now fully tenanted. The 29,000-square-foot ground floor will be occupied by luxury auto repair service No. 1 Collision, which purchased its space in the strata building.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to announce that we now have a fully committed building which is being topped-off with one of Vancouver’s most important and innovative biotech companies, PNI,” said Roz McQueen, director of leasing for Nicola, in the announcement.

“This enhances the Strathcona neighbourhood’s critical mass for medical and bio-related ventures which commenced when the relocation of St. Paul’s Hospital was confirmed in 2019.”

PNI is involved in the development of genetic medicines for infectious diseases, cancer and rare diseases. The firm works with global drug companies to understand diseases and create therapeutics and vaccines.

The rapidly growing firm employs more than 180 life science professionals and is currently hiring additional scientists, engineers and other skilled professionals. PNI intends to expand capabilities to include the clinical manufacturing of RNA vaccines and therapeutics.

“This is a huge leap forward in our mission to accelerate the creation of transformative medicines that significantly impact human well-being,” said James Taylor, PNI’s general manager, in the announcement.

“We are proud to contribute to the Canadian biotechnology industry by enabling them to develop and manufacture the next generation of medicines.”

PNI was recently acquired by U.S. giant Danaher and will move from its existing downtown hub.

The GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) biomanufacturing centre, which is part of the new complex, is being partially funded with $25.1 million from Canada’s Strategic Innovation Fund.

Evolution Block and the Vancouver market

In a highly space-constrained downtown market, Evolution Block was designed to offer flexible commercial and/or industrial space close to the core.

“PNI’s newly slated lease deal highlights the continued strength of this commercial market, and solidifies this location as a growing biotech and health science hub that commands the attention of creatives and professionals looking to establish businesses in this evolving and innovative district,” says Matthew MacLean, senior VP at Cushman & Wakefield.

“This area will continue to thrive given its close proximity to downtown, the new St Paul’s hospital, access to amenities and abundant bike lanes and public parks.

“Evolution represents one of the pioneer developments in the area that will drive one of Vancouver’s oldest industrial neighbourhoods into its reimagined future.”

No. 1 Collision CEO Robert Walker had been searching for suitable space to expand his business, in an area near the downtown, for four years. His preference has always been to own the space his business occupies.

“It’s hard to find space in downtown Vancouver and for us, this area is close to the dealers we work with. And our space requirements are so big and specific, long-term it makes sense to own,” Walker said in a statement.

“We are really excited about the evolution of the area, the quality construction and architecture of this development and our ability to customize the space.

“Multi-storey is a great idea for Vancouver and will soon be the norm.”



Don is a veteran editor and journalist with four decades of experience in print and online news, including 20 years at the Ottawa Sun. Prior to joining RENX, Don was…

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Don is a veteran editor and journalist with four decades of experience in print and online news, including 20 years at the Ottawa Sun. Prior to joining RENX, Don was…

Read more




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