Westbank's new BC Place office tower gets Toronto-based investor

Aug 6 2019, 7:40 pm

The local developer behind a significant office building proposal at 720 Beatty Street — at the southwest corner of the intersection of West Georgia Street and Beatty Street, next to BC Place Stadium — has received construction financing from a Toronto-based investment firm for the project.

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Allied Properties Real Estate Investment Trust has announced it will provide Westbank with up to $185 million to fund the pre-development and initial construction costs of the 264-ft-tall, 17-storey office tower on the existing site of the Creative Energy steam plant.

In return, Allied will receive a 50% ownership stake in the building, which will entail 620,000 sq. ft. of gross leasable office and retail floor area, including some of the city’s largest office floor plates (32,000 sq. ft.), making it suitable for tech firms.

The project is anticipated to reach completion in late 2023, providing much-needed office space capacity amidst record low office vacancy rates.

720 Beatty Street Vancouver Creative Energy

January 2019 artistic rendering of the Creative Energy redevelopment 720 Beatty Street, Vancouver. (Bjarke Ingels Group / HMCA Architecture & Design / Westbank)

720 Beatty Street Vancouver Creative Energy

January 2019 artistic rendering of the Creative Energy redevelopment 720 Beatty Street, Vancouver. (Bjarke Ingels Group / HMCA Architecture & Design / Westbank)

“Providing this funding to Westbank will enable us to generate an accretive return from the outset,” said Michael Emory, president and CEO of Allied, in a statement. “As importantly, it will in time enable us to serve knowledge-based organizations more fully in Vancouver’s thriving urban workspace market.”

The project is currently being evaluated through the municipal government’s rezoning application process, and its design — by Bjarke Ingels Group and HCMA Architecture + Design — has already received approval from the city’s Urban Design Panel (UDP).

Meeting minutes for the UDP’s April 17 meeting indicates the panel was highly supportive of the design elements, including the curvature of the facade, unique rooftop, and public realm treatment that expands and enhances the exterior concourse of the stadium.

720 Beatty Street Vancouver Creative Energy

January 2019 artistic rendering of the Creative Energy redevelopment 720 Beatty Street, Vancouver. (Bjarke Ingels Group / HMCA Architecture & Design / Westbank)

Additionally, the project includes a five-storey, circular-shaped entertainment pavilion wedged between West Georgia Street and the stadium concourse on the south side of the office building. To enhance the area’s designation as an entertainment district, it will include a restaurant, sports bar, brewery, virtual reality sports experience, karaoke, and a rooftop patio.

The redevelopment also necessitates a new replacement facility for Creative Energy, located across from the existing site within an unused void space underneath the stadium. This is made possible by a new partnership with Pavco, the provincial crown corporation that operates the stadium.

The new steam plant will be constructed first, before work begins on the redevelopment of the existing plant on the primary development site. Components of the new steam plant utility will also be located within the base of the new tower, when it is complete.

720 Beatty Street Vancouver Creative Energy

January 2019 artistic rendering of the Creative Energy redevelopment 720 Beatty Street, Vancouver. (Bjarke Ingels Group / HMCA Architecture & Design / Westbank)

720 Beatty Street Vancouver Creative Energy

January 2019 artistic rendering of the Creative Energy redevelopment 720 Beatty Street, Vancouver. (Bjarke Ingels Group / HMCA Architecture & Design / Westbank)

After an initial rejection in February, Westbank submitted revisions to BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) in April for its proposed changes to Creative Energy, which include revisions that address the commission’s earlier concerns. BCUC is currently in the process of re-evaluating the proposal to build a new and renovated steam plant to accommodate the office building.

Creative Energy currently provides economical, mass-produced heating to over 210 buildings, totalling 45 million-sq-ft of floor area, across much of the downtown Vancouver peninsula.

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