Vancouver remains the strongest office market in North America, as demand for quality office space outpaces supply.
Today, in a joint news conference with Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, Credit Suisse – one of the top 10 largest private real estate investors in the world – confirmed its faith in Vancouver and British Columbia’s economy by announcing that it will break ground on a $200-million LEED Platinum office tower.
“Normally, we would invest in a fully-developed, leased property,” says Rainer Scherwey, Director at Credit Suisse Real Estate Asset Management. “This office tower represents the first time in North America that we are confident enough to build a major project from the ground up.”
The City of Vancouver recently granted a development permit for Credit Suisse’s 31-storey office tower, The Exchange, in the heart of the financial district.
“We are negotiating with a number of tenants at the moment and expect to make announcements soon,” says Mark Renzoni, President & CEO of CBRE, the leasing brokerage for the development.
Independent market analysts expect The Exchange will be substantially leased before completion. “As the global economy recovers, Vancouver is one of the strongest office markets in North America,” says Mark Chambers, Senior Vice President of Cushman & Wakefield. “The downtown Vancouver office market currently sits at near-record low vacancy rates, with mounting pressure on availability of quality space.”
Up until recently, the City of Vancouver was projecting a critical shortage of office space by 2031 if land- use policies remained the same. With a new Metro Core Jobs & Economic Land Use plan in place, there are now seven new office towers under construction in downtown, creating 2.18-million square feet of new office space. More than half of that space is already pre-leased.
In the last four years, the City of Vancouver has approved as much office space as in the entire preceding decade.
“We are excited that a global giant like Credit Suisse has chosen Vancouver for its first ground-up development in North America,” says Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Not only will The Exchange add critical new office and job space, but it will hit the highest green standards and deliver a major economic benefit to our city. The Exchange supports a number of our economic and greenest city policies and initiatives, and it is great to have Credit Suisse put down roots in Vancouver.”
The Exchange will be Canada’s second tallest office tower to achieve LEED Platinum, the highest sustainability rating from the Canada Green Building Council. Energy consumption will be half the load of traditional office buildings, with a 35 per cent reduction in energy costs and an 85 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions.
The Exchange’s Vancouver investor says Credit Suisse Real Estate Asset Management would only consider a ‘green’ project. “The Exchange speaks not only to Credit Suisse’s standard of excellence, but the global impact of Vancouver’s ‘greenest city’ initiative,” says Franz Gehriger, CEO of SwissReal Group.
The development will include Canada’s first LEED Platinum heritage conversion, as the neighbouring Old Stock Exchange building (circa 1929) will be renovated and restored as part of The Exchange.
Renowned Swiss architect, Harry Gugger, is the design architect working in collaboration with lead consultant Iredale Group ofVancouver. He says, “The Old Stock Exchange is a refined and handsomely crafted building. The new tower will not look to compete with this prominent heritage building, but rather to successfully work with it to provide a composition that at once looks to Vancouver’s future without obscuring its past.”
During construction, The Exchange will create 400 jobs. Upon completion in 2016, there will be 1,700 permanent job spaces.
Credit Suisse’s global operations have been greenhouse gas-neutral since 2010. It is now applying this philosophy to its vast real estate portfolio.
Renderings: Credit Suisse
Source: Credit Suisse | Featured Image: Mike Lloyd via Twitter