“We recognized that in the land-constrained Metro Vancouver area, there’s not just pressure on residential land but also pressure on employment-generating land,” said PC Urban principal Brent Sawchyn. “There’s a particularly interesting market to service for small to medium-sized businesses that prefer to own their properties.”
With Vancouver seeing a 30-per-cent decline in its supply of industrially zoned land over the past four decades, and the average price of industrial strata increasing by 90 per cent over the past 10 years, IntraUrban presents a rare opportunity for small businesses.
It should appeal to businesses and entrepreneurs who recognize the value of building equity over leasing and wish to be located in the city as opposed to the suburbs. It is expected to attract service firms such as engineering, architecture, construction and wholesale businesses.
IntraUrban will offer 170,000 square feet
IntraUrban will transform an obsolete, 20,000-square-foot building on a 4.6-acre site in South Vancouver just south of SW Marine Drive at 8811 Laurel St. into 170,000 square feet of new commercial space. The location, purchased by Vancouver-based PC Urban for just under $11 million, was formerly occupied by a manufacturing facility used by False Creek Industries and a TransLink bus storage area.
IntraUrban is in an industrial-zoned area in the Cambie Street and Marine Drive area that’s in the midst of a major transformation, with 8,500 new homes planned or under construction and the introduction of 380,000 square feet of new retail space in the Marpole neighbourhood.
The location is three blocks away from a SkyTrain stop on the Canada Line and a 15-minute drive to downtown. It offers easy access to a bicycle path, Highway 99, Vancouver International Airport, Port Metro Vancouver, the cities of Richmond and Burnaby, and the United States border.
Once completed, IntraUrban will be composed of three buildings ranging in size from 44,000 to 69,000 square feet. Its units will have 22-feet clear height with grade level roll-up loading doors, high-efficiency lighting, separately metered utilities, handicapped-accessible washrooms and air-conditioned second-floor mezzanines for office space. The customizable units will be sold individually at a price in the range of $300 per square foot.
Sawchyn said IntraUrban is similar in some ways to his real estate development and investment company’s recently completed and award-winning warehouse and office space project for owner-occupiers in North Vancouver called 1515 Barrow Street that’s completely sold.
IntraUrban being built on spec
IntraUrban is being built on spec, though Sawchyn said there are already interested parties and he anticipates that all of the units will sell quickly.
Subject to obtaining building permits, PC Urban expects to start work on the foundation of the first building in March. Its units will range in size from 3,207 to 5,043 square feet and should be ready for occupants by late 2017 or early 2018.
“We’ll begin with phase one and then immediately roll into the phase two building,” said Sawchyn. “Phase three will get delivered at a slightly later stage subject to our sales in the first two phases. Phases one and two will essentially be seamless in terms of time.”
IntraUrban should triple the building site’s existing tax base, and it plays into the Metro Vancouver governing body’s goal of creating employment-generating space in an area restricted by land constraints.
“I suspect that between TransLink and False Creek Industries, there might have been two dozen employees,” said Sawchyn. “By the time we finish, I suspect there will be upwards of 200 or 250 people working out of there.”
Sawchyn said a lot of industrial buildings in South Vancouver, East Vancouver and Mount Pleasant were built in the 1930s and ‘40s and have exceeded their life span. Many either require major capital improvements or need to be repurposed like the IntraUrban site, and their transformation could compensate for the lack of new land available to build on.
“We’ve identified some other opportunities in the Vancouver and Burnaby areas,” said Sawchyn. “What the market’s willing to pay now for light and strata units will give us an opportunity to be more creative in terms of where we can look and the types of properties we can find.”