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Grand Long banks on office with Richmond mixed-use towers

Developer Grand Long is banking on pent-up demand for mid-market office space now that it’s offic...

An artist’s rendering of the One Park development in Richmond being developed by Grand Long. (Courtesy Grand Long)

Developer Grand Long is banking on pent-up demand for mid-market office space now that it’s officially launched the One Park mixed-use residential-office tower at 8119 Park Rd. in Richmond, in Greater Vancouver.

Construction has been underway for 11 months on the three-tower project near No. 3 Road. The complex includes Richmond’s first class-A office development built in more than two decades, with the podium level just about to complete on the mixed-use building.

Once built out, Tower A, as it’s been nicknamed, will be one of three 15-storey terraced buildings, including 47,106 square feet of strata office space on floors four to seven, with condo units from floors eight to 15.

In total, the project will have 333 strata condo units, as well as parking and 31,845,000 square feet of leased retail on the podium levels.

Tower B is almost finished and construction of Tower C is at 10 storeys so far. The expected completion date is July 2023.

New office space for Richmond

The $330-million project is part of a slow-growing trend to build office in the municipality, located a 20-minute SkyTrain trip from downtown Vancouver.

Although Richmond’s office vacancy rate climbed more than any other municipality this year (an increase of 220 basis points to 9.2 per cent, according to CBRE), the developer has been building in the Lower Mainland since 2009 and believes the market will pivot away from urban areas to the suburbs, due to the pandemic.

The Hong Kong-based developer – whose B.C. office is in Richmond – has done “very well” in the Vancouver market, said Ken Kwan, project director.

Grand Long is so committed to the municipality – home to a thriving port, significant industrial warehouse space and some of the region’s largest single-family houses – it began construction before launching commercial pre-sales or pre-leasing.

Residential sales are well underway.

Kwan keeps a core staff that works out of an office in Richmond, and has used ITC Construction crews so often that he refers to the company as his “rock.”

Grand Long has an established reputation for concrete high-rise development in Hong Kong and China since 1992.

“The developer is very seasoned,” said Kwan. “Our team here, we basically looked at the market, and we want to sell when the market is right, or the opportunity is there. So we started the marketing of (all-residential) Tower B late last year and we are basically over 80 per cent sold by about May.”

One Park sales, leasing status

Grand Long launched sales of Tower A earlier this month. CBRE is handling sales for the class-A office in the mixed-use Tower A, as well as retail leasing for One Park.

Kwan said they are hoping to sell the office space for $1,000 to $1,050 per square foot, with unit space as small as 405 square feet and as large as 1,252 square feet.

Amenities will include a common patio area, games room, green roof, meeting room, bike storage, showers, lounge with wet bar and parking stalls. Some units will have private patios.

The one-, two- and three-bedroom residences will have 31,000 square feet of outdoor and indoor amenities on the podium. Kwan said the residential units are “high-quality, mid-market,” which, he added, describes the Richmond market in general.

“Residential is doing fine. As for office, we are not into the swing yet,” “said Kwan. “We will know the result probably in a month or so. . . .

“Richmond caters to the general office market, with quite a few small business people, into consulting and financial, the trades and small business types. That’s why we designed it this way.”

Tower A condo units are priced at around $1,000 to $1,100 per square foot.

“I think the pent-up demand is really there, I think people are looking for that opportunity to own their own office and the suburbanization (of office) is really happening because of SkyTrain,” he said, referring to a nearby Canada Line station.

“And we are cheaper, much cheaper than downtown, or any major area in Vancouver.”

Grand Long’s history with the Richmond site

Grand Long purchased the former strip mall site in 2009, when the company first entered the B.C. market with a residential/retail tower across the street from One Park. That 14-storey tower, called Nova, is at 6733 Buswell St.

The company had previously built 18- to 20-unit townhouse projects in the region.

Today it also has a 47-storey condo tower undergoing rezoning in downtown Vancouver and another 20- to 25-storey residential tower proposed for the Broadway corridor.

A major new City of Vancouver plan is underway to significantly densify the Broadway arterial, the location for the new SkyTrain line.

Kwan said Grand Long has been preparing the strip mall site for redevelopment since 2016 and it’s finally come to fruition. Richmond is encouraging more mixed-use projects along No. 3 Road, said Kwan, and he knows of a couple of others underway in the vicinity.

“I think that is one of the background forces for the city’s planning. We agree with it, and SkyTrain (will) bring a lot of growth to the Richmond area.”

Combining office, residential and retail makes sense as people choose to work remotely or outside of congested urban areas and use transit instead of cars to get to work.

One Park is a seven-minute walk to the Richmond-Brighouse SkyTrain station, a couple of stops from the airport and is near CF Richmond Centre shopping mall and community centre.

“And we are cheaper, much cheaper than downtown (Vancouver) or any major area in Vancouver.”

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