Vancouver Commercial Real Estate: The Evolving Tenant

If you read our recent blog post, then you’re up to speed on just how much the technology sector is growing in Vancouver. With close to 9,000 tech jobs added to Metro Vancouver over the past three years, global brands and promising startups are moving to the west coast -- and not just for our mountain peaks and waterfront views. With America’s current political landscape and the growing attractiveness of the Canadian dollar, culture, and community, many are wondering whether tech has become Vancouver’s market segment.  

“Tech has found us in a lot of ways, given the type of people here. The lifestyle, the city itself is certainly attractive, and has lot of similarities to tech cities in the States. A lot of that has come our way as a result,” said NAIOP panelist Jeff Rank, Senior Vice President at Quadreal, at our May Breakfast event.

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“Most recently I’d say that I wasn’t a fan of Donald Trump when he was first elected, but some of the things he’s done and the instability he’s caused has certainly benefited this region when it comes to bringing talent to Canada versus the United States. So for that I’m grateful.”

New Builds vs. Existing Product. What Do Tech Tenants Want?

With a reputation for wanting innovative office spaces, developers are creating buildings that are thought to attract tech giants like Microsoft, Facebook, and Sony. However, Rank notes that new shiny buildings are actually not what these tenants want. New may not always mean better, as more tech companies are gravitating towards retro interiors.  

“The war for talent is being fought with space right now,” notes Kevin Nelson, Senior Vice President at CBRE. “In fact, HR has a bigger role at touring real estate right now than the real estate department, because if you don’t have space for new hires, what’s the point? I agree with Jeff; new is cool, but that’s not everything. It’s about geography and proximity, and quite frankly we have a lot of steps to learn from our markets down the coast from us.”

Move Over Tech…

Despite the hype around this sector, some experts say there are signs that other industries will start to compete for square footage in Metro Vancouver, including a very strong resurgence from natural resources.

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“I’m not convinced that we’re a one-trick pony,” said Mark Trepp, Senior Vice President at JLL. “I am convinced that the other sectors that have been more traditional to Vancouver are on the verge of a resurgence. Services, real estate, lawyers; everyone is doing better and expanding, it’s not just one opportunity or industry.”

Do you think technology sector is here to stay, or that the resource industry will soon dominate the marketplace? Tweet @naiopvancouver and tell us what you think!

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