23-storey office tower in downtown approved by Vancouver City Council

Jun 30 2021, 7:22 pm

More office space is coming to downtown Vancouver, following Vancouver City Council’s unanimous approval of a 23-storey office tower proposal on Tuesday.

The site at 450 West Georgia Street and 712-732 Richards Street, the southeast corner of the intersection of West Georgia Street and Richards Street, will be redeveloped into a 375,554 sq ft tower.

Currently, the site is occupied by a surface parking lot and 1923-built, low-storey commercial buildings.

This redevelopment by Austeville Properties will generate Class AAA office space, and offer an indoor privately-owned accessible public space next to the three-storey lobby and 1,500 sq ft retail unit — such as a cafe — on the ground level. The tower’s lower floors are set back to create a generous plaza-like public space along the building’s frontages with both streets.

450 West Georgia Street 712-732 Richards Street Vancouver

Site of the office tower at 450 West Georgia Street and 712-732 Richards Street, Vancouver. (W.T. Leung Architects/Austeville Properties)

450 west georgia street vancouver

Site of 450 West Georgia Street and 712-732 Richards Street, Vancouver. (Google Maps)

Designed by W.T. Leung Architects, this tower strives for a more conventional building aesthetic compared to its neighbours; its simplicity provides contrast with the geometrical complexity of the stacked cubes of Deloitte Summit immediately to the east and the protruding cubes of Telus Garden across the street to the west.

Vertical and horizontal slots are carved into the tower box’s west facade to create the appearance of three distinct upper volumes.

The conventional shape and size of the floor plates makes the tower suitable for the needs of larger companies, including tech firms. Large outdoor amenity decks for office workers are located on the eighth and 23rd floors.

450 West Georgia Street 712-732 Richards Street Vancouver

Artistic rendering of the office tower at 450 West Georgia Street and 712-732 Richards Street, Vancouver. (W.T. Leung Architects/Austeville Properties)

450 west georgia street vancouver

Artistic rendering of 450 West Georgia Street and 712-732 Richards Street, Vancouver. (W.T. Leung Architects/Austeville Properties)

450 West Georgia Street 712-732 Richards Street Vancouver

Artistic rendering of the office tower at 450 West Georgia Street and 712-732 Richards Street, Vancouver. (W.T. Leung Architects/Austeville Properties)

The development site is, of course, located adjacent to Amazon’s future expanded Vancouver basecamp at The Post. The neighbouring Deloitte Summit tower will also see Apple as one of its major tenants.

But just like Deloitte Summit, Telus Garden, and The Post, the site’s ultimate office density potential — based on market forces — is limited by view cone height restrictions.

The tower is 286 ft (87.2 m) in height, restricted by View Cones 9.1 and 9.2.1 from Cambie Street next to Vancouver City Hall. As currently designed, the tower slightly penetrates into View Cone 9.1 by about 10 ft (2.9 m).

City staff have recommended that the tower’s height be reduced in the area not covered by a view cone shadow, which is when another structure intrudes into a view cone, potentially allowing for a building to push for greater heights behind the penetrating structure.

450 West Georgia Street 712-732 Richards Street Vancouver

View cone impact of the office tower at 450 West Georgia Street and 712-732 Richards Street, Vancouver. (W.T. Leung Architects/Austeville Properties)

450 West Georgia Street 712-732 Richards Street Vancouver

View cone impact of the office tower at 450 West Georgia Street and 712-732 Richards Street, Vancouver. (W.T. Leung Architects/Austeville Properties)

450 West Georgia Street 712-732 Richards Street Vancouver

View cone impact of the office tower at 450 West Georgia Street and 712-732 Richards Street, Vancouver. (W.T. Leung Architects/Austeville Properties)

Despite the height constraints, by maximizing the size of the floor plates on the site, the tower will still be able to achieve a relatively high density — a floor area ratio density of a floor area that is 15.3 times larger than the size of the 24,000 sq ft lot.

In exchange for the density, the developer has committed to providing $11.35 million in public benefits, including $5.6 million in city-wide development cost levies (DCL), $1.9 million in city-wide utilities DCL, $3.1 million as a cash community amenity contribution, and $726,000 as public art.

Six underground levels will provide 273 vehicle parking stalls and 230 secure bike parking spaces, which will be accessible by a seamless, two-way bike ramp from the new Richards Street bike lane.

450 West Georgia Street 712-732 Richards Street Vancouver

Artistic rendering of the office tower at 450 West Georgia Street and 712-732 Richards Street, Vancouver. (W.T. Leung Architects/Austeville Properties)

450 West Georgia Street 712-732 Richards Street Vancouver

Artistic rendering of the office tower at 450 West Georgia Street and 712-732 Richards Street, Vancouver. (W.T. Leung Architects/Austeville Properties)

Although the pandemic has had an impact on the office market, downtown Vancouver still has the lowest office vacancy rate of major city centres in North America, according to CBRE. In the second quarter of 2021, downtown Vancouver’s office vacancy was hovering at 6.6%.

The timeline for building the latest approved office tower in the area and potential tenant interest are not known; the project still needs to seek a development permit application. But it is expected to generate 1,200 jobs during the construction process.

Meanwhile, construction on the Deloitte Summit and The Post have progressed considerably over the past year. Deloitte Summit is on target to reach completion later this year, while The Post is scheduled to open in two phases between 2022 and 2023.

450 West Georgia Street 712-732 Richards Street Vancouver

Model of the office tower at 450 West Georgia Street and 712-732 Richards Street, Vancouver. (W.T. Leung Architects/Austeville Properties)

450 West Georgia Street 712-732 Richards Street Vancouver

Model of the office tower at 450 West Georgia Street and 712-732 Richards Street, Vancouver. (W.T. Leung Architects/Austeville Properties)

450 West Georgia Street 712-732 Richards Street Vancouver

Model of the office tower at 450 West Georgia Street and 712-732 Richards Street, Vancouver. (W.T. Leung Architects/Austeville Properties)

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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