Vancouver’s Tallest Office Tower Proposed for 1133 Melville Street

Proposed Building at 1133 Melville in Downtown Vancouver

Proposed Building at 1133 Melville in Downtown Vancouver

The Proposal
The proposal for 1133 Melville calls for a building with a maximum height of 524 feet (159.9m) and with a total floor area of 658,687 SF. It is worth noting that the tower will contain 287 parking spaces, it will also achieve a floor space ratio (FSR) of 22.46. The building will have a sustainability target of LEED Platinum and contain floorplates that average 19,978 to 16,673 SF in size.i At the proposed height, the building would be the fourth tallest building in the City of Vancouver and also the tallest office building in the city. Park Place on Burrard Street would be the next tallest office building in the city at 450 feet (137m). One reason that the building will be so tall yet only 33-storeys is that it will feature high floor heights with ceiling heights of about 13 feet (4m). ii

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Heights of the Buildings Adjacent to 1133 Melville Street

What is it Replacing?
The site is currently occupied by a 10-storey office and parkade building which was built in 1982. The building features 79,236 SF of Class B office space on its upper floors, with a typical floorplate of 21,000 SF.iii It is also home to 291 below ground parking stalls and 286 above ground. Currently, 1133 Melville is home to AMEX Americas Limited, Flight Centre, Air G and BCBC. iv The fact that a 10-storey building which was completed as recently as 1982 is now being demolished for to make way for a much larger tower is a good indicator of just how valuable land in and around Downtown Vancouver has become. Expect to see similar redevelopment of low-rise buildings in the future as developers seek to maximize the potential of underutilized downtown sites.

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Current 10-Storey Building at 1133 Melville

Is There a Market?
With British Columbia leading GDP growth among Canadian provinces in 2015 and 2016, it would seem that development of new office space is a no brainer.v All of this economic good news however comes against a backdrop of extensive building in the Downtown Vancouver office market. According to Colliers International, the overall vacancy rate for office space in downtown has gone from 8.6% in Q2 of 2015 to 9.9% in Q3 of 2015. This increase has been especially pronounced in the market for Class AAA office space which currently sits at 14.7% in Q3 2015. vi According to Jones Lang LaSalle there is a total of 2,720,000 of Class A office space that will be added to Downtown Vancouver by the end of 2017. They also forecast that during this time the market will only absorb a total of 1,450,000 SF which will drive up vacancy rates. vii It remains to be seen of the buildings of all these new office buildings will be able to find tenants to fill them.

JLL Analysis of Office Buildings Under Construction in Downtown Vancouver

JLL Analysis of Office Buildings Under Construction in Downtown Vancouver

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View of 1133 Melville from Vancouver Harbour

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Building Within the Downtown Core

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Lobby of 1133 Melville


 
i http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/planning/rezoning/applications/1133melville/index.htm
ii http://www.vancouversun.com/mobile/story.html?id=11249684
iii https://spacelist.ca/p/bc/vancouver/1133_melville_st
iv http://www.oxfordproperties.com/Buildings/main.aspx?bu=31190#
v http://www.rbc.com/economics/economic-reports/pdf/provincial-forecasts/provfcst-dec2015.pdf
vi http://www.collierscanada.com/en/commercial-property-research?office=vancouver&proptype=Office&rpp=5&page=2
vii http://www.jll.ca/canada/en-ca/Research/LookForward-Vancouver.pdf

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Balanced Communities : Commercial space makes a comeback in Vancouver


It appears as though Vancouver has gotten over its near anaemic growth in new office space.  4 new projects promise to add enough commercial space to at least attempt to keep pace with new demand in the downtown core. What is certain is that Vancouver will have to develop several more projects if it is to begin to try to re-establish a balance between residential and commercial space that has been made unbalanced by the condo boom of the 1990’s.

Past conversions of such well known commercial architectural gems as the Duke Energy building and the BC Hydro building should never again be allowed to happen. While government intervention to promote public transit and higher density are examples of good things, conversions of these buildings have shown us the government mistakes. Keeping taxes significantly higher on commercial space has already added the soft market; going ahead with the conversions was almost a death blow to downtown office space. What they need to now do is lower these taxes and further encourage offices to locate downtown Vancouver and not out in some suburban office park.

With downtown office vacancy currently hovering around 3.7% there is not a growing push on to build new commercial towers. Almost all of the newly planned AAA office space in the Vancouver area appears to be headed for downtown. A cluster of new developments are being proposed to meet the growing demand for space. One can only hope that these new developments signal a future where downtown development is more balanced between residential and commercial interests. Before these new projects, Vancouver was at real danger of becoming one of the few North American cities with a reverse-commute out of downtown.

It’s an encouraging sign to see most of the new office space is going in around existing skytrain stations. While perhaps not most of the new development will take place downtown Vancouver it does serve much of the same purpose to have this development occurring at high density rapid transit stations complementing high density residential in those areas. There is a hungry and talented pool of young urban professionals in these condo buildings downtown who are craving jobs which are close to home. The addition of these buildings has the potential to make such newer downtown neighbourhoods as Coal Harbour and Yaletown much more complete communities where people do not drive to work.

Figure 4 from City of Vancouver clearly shows the Office building boom of the 70s and 80s followed by the Condo Boom that followed.