Reliance Properties has signed retailer Lululemon as the anchor tenant at its new Burrard Place office tower in what the firm calls “the most significant commercial lease agreement in downtown Vancouver since the global pandemic started.”
Lululemon has committed to leasing nine of the 10 floors in the tower portion of the building, taking about 120,000 square feet of space.
“In our 60-year history, this is our first office development from the ground up, so to sign a global homegrown brand like Lululemon is a real win,” said Jon Stovell, president and CEO of Reliance Properties, in Friday morning’s announcement.
Occupancy is to begin later this year, Stovell told RENX in an email exchange. He said all the space being leased by Lululemon is for its offices – there is no retail component to this lease.
When Reliance broke ground on the office building in 2018, Vancouver was facing a serious and growing shortage of space for companies seeking large blocks of office space. Vacancy at the time was around five per cent, making it one of the tightest markets on the continent.
The company noted that while an average tenant in the downtown core required approximately 7,000 square feet of office space, pre-pandemic demand was driven by tenants looking for large blocks of space.
Then COVID-19 hit in March 2020 and slowed the market.
“This transaction signals that large firms are committed to office space, which changes the pervasive pandemic narrative that cast into doubt the need for office space,” said Blair Quinn, vice-chairman of CBRE, the company that brokered the transaction, in the release.
Reliance “bullish” on Vancouver office
CBRE data shows the last major pre-lease was in 2018 when Amazon signed for 1.1 million square feet of space in two phases at The Post redevelopment on Georgia Street.
Reliance said it remained “bullish” during the pandemic, making purchases of large commercial properties and launching construction of new office buildings, including 1166 West Pender, a 32-storey office tower in the Central Business District being developed with Houston-based partner Hines.
In total, Reliance has over one million square feet of commercial space in Vancouver and Victoria in various stages of predevelopment or construction.
“Our vision is to bring job spaces close to homes and all kinds of transit options and amenities, which is the kind of smart growth that defines forward-thinking cities like Vancouver,” said Stovell in the announcement. “Downtowns are the economic engines of major cities and regions and through market cycles they remain resilient, and we need to ensure that by pitching big ideas and making bold decisions.”
The Burrard Place redevelopment
Burrard Place office workers will have access to 30,000 square feet of luxury amenities at the adjacent One Burrard Place. That 60-storey, 444-unit residential building is one of the tallest towers in Western Canada and part of the Burrard Place complex, which is just off Burrard Bridge with its recently enhanced transit, pedestrian, and bike corridors.
Together, they are part of a million-square-foot redevelopment of the downtown Vancouver property.
An extensive showroom for Toyota is taking up the first three floors of the new tower.
It was designed by the late world-renowned architect Bing Thom. The $500-million Burrard Place project (in 2018 dollars) includes two high-rise residential buildings.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to incorrect information contained in the original release, this article was updated to reflect Lululemon is leasing nine floors, not 12 as originally noted.