In many ways, Vancouver has entered the city’s golden age of its development.
For Gryphon Development, this stage of evolution means the downtown peninsula has started to reach its saturation point, and opportunities are emerging elsewhere in high-density neighbourhoods that present rival downtowns that blend a vibrant balance of services, offices, entertainment and homes — all well connected to the rest of the city by mass transit.
The Oakridge District and Cambie Corridor are together emerging as one of those leading alternative downtowns in Vancouver, says Jason Hsu, CEO of Gryphon, which is building Marco Polo by Gryphon, a mixed-use 11-storey building located just across the street from the Langara-49th Canada Line Station, one stop south of the emerging Oakridge District, or a five minute walk.
With Marco Polo, Gryphon aims to flip mixed-use development on its head, focusing 70% of the building on a blend of in-demand commercial uses including three levels of medical and health offices, in addition to other professional, educational and financial services. It also features a 8,000-square-foot private members club-style amenity venue known as The Curator Club that will include co-working spaces with top-grade meeting rooms and events space available exclusively to strata members and residents.
The building will mix traditional offerings such as a lounge and casual workspaces with innovative amenities like content creator rooms, a communal kitchen, and a double-height atrium space. It’s expected to contribute to an overall package that promotes luxury and convenience for all of its commercial and residential strata members.
Marco Polo taps into office market right-sizing
Hsu said there is an office right-sizing happening in the Canadian market with many businesses seeking to reduce their overall office footprint as employees adapt to a hybrid work environment.
More than 50% of global corporations have plans to downsize their office space, and there’s a rising trend of office relocation from urban to suburban areas, Hsu said. Businesses are progressively seeking smaller to medium-sized offices due to the prevalence of flexible work models.
The growing demand for flexible office space suggests it will encompass 8% of total office inventory in the Canadian market, according to Colliers’ New Age of Hybrid Work report, published earlier this year.
That shift will make the co-working space a key draw for owner-professionals at Marco Polo who need an attractive, professional environment to conduct business and host clients or business partners.
Amenity package inspired by Asian private club concept
Office users, residents and co-workers at Marco Polo will have full access to all of the amenities. "This strategy was inspired by the private club concept in Asia, including the likes of the Soho House Hong Kong,” Hsu said, noting that Gryphon’s parent company is based in Taiwan.
A 4,000-sq.-ft. fitness centre is equipped with sauna and steam rooms, yoga and Pilates rooms, massage chairs, and more. “Gryphon Lifestyle Concierge will take care of all the details, planning meetings and events at the functional and flexible Curator Club is effortless,” Hsu said. “Rounding out amenities, an abundance of dedicated parking spaces in more than 1:1 ratio, and an onsite daycare centre, ensure a sense of ease.”
The remaining 30 percent of Marco Polo will feature luxury-grade homes that will start sales in 2024. The planned daycare will have space for 37 children and be operated by the City of Vancouver.
The neighbourhood’s growth has already excited investors, business owners, and homebuyers alike, Hsu said. Marco Polo is situated well within the orbit of Oakridge, an urban centre redevelopment that’s now emerging at the former site of Oakridge Centre. That master-planned community will eventually have 2,600 homes for 6,000 residents and roughly 3,000 workers in retail stores and office space.
Marco Polo also falls within the Cambie Corridor Plan, a 30-year plan by the City of Vancouver to promote and manage growth along the redeveloping corridor that will see the population double in coming decades with the arrival of 30,000 new homes.
“We took reference from what happened when leading cities in Asia, such as Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Area, Shanghai’s Pudong Area, and Taipei’s Xinyi District, expanded their downtowns,” Hsu said. “We also saw companies shifting from urban to suburban areas, and an increasing demand in modern, premium medical office spaces in Vancouver West. These opportunities align precisely with what Marco Polo is bringing to Oakridge, revolutionizing the future of work and living in this desirable location.”
Marco Polo’s commercial and retail units are now available for private previews.
Medical use a key to office space
Hsu said a key part of the building will be the three levels designed especially for medical uses. A chronic challenge in B.C. is a lack of family doctors and specialists and certain redevelopments, including at Oakridge, will displace healthcare services, Hsu said. “Where are these doctors going to go?”
Marco Polo’s levels six through eight will be medical-use ready and ideal for family doctors, specialists, dentists and other healthcare services. “There’s definitely potential for family doctors to purchase space in the building,” Hsu said.
Betty Ng, an award-winning architect and founder of Hong Kong-based COLLECTIVE architecture studio, designed Marco Polo, incorporating a column grid and horizontal expansion that naturally blends Eastern and Western classical and modern designs. Vancouver-based CLVR Studio will be handling the interior designs for the building.
The building is slated to complete in late 2027.