City of Vancouver to Abandon CAC Negotiations on Commercial and Low-Density Rental Rezonings

Somewhat hidden behind the news of the Housing Vancouver Strategy announcement, is a new policy proposal for CACs for commercial and rental-only residential developments. The overall plan proposed in the policy report entitled “CAC Policy Update: Simplifying CACs on New Rental Housing and Commercial Development” is to cease negotiating CACs on commercial rezonings and some rental rezonings.

The City’s proposal is intended to “simplify the City’s development contribution system which includes DCLs, CACs, density bonusing and other mechanisms. The proposed changes will provide greater clarity and certainty on development contributions for rezoning applicants. The recommended changes will streamline the CAC process for both secured market rental and commercial-only rezoning applications to enable a majority of these project types to be brought to market sooner.”

The recommendations in the proposed policy include the following:

Recommendation A – Exempt routine, lower density secured market rental rezoning applications from CACs

The City would exempt rental applications from CAC negotiations where the density proposed is low, or consistent with area zoning. The table below shows where CACs would be exempt for rental based on height guidelines:

Recommendation B – Remove CAC negotiation on commercial-only rezoning 

The City intends on removing the CAC negotiation process (which can prolong the application timeline significantly) for commercial applications in the Downtown, Metro Core, Grandview Employment Area and South Vancouver Industrial Lands. This would not apply for proposed stratified commercial space.

The City will also introduce commercial linkage targets, which are intended to show the correlation between additional commercial space and workforce related childcare spaces and affordable housing. The commecial linkage targets will be fixed $/SF amounts calculated on the net additional density for commercial rezonings in the Downtown and Metro Core areas. 

The interim Commercial Linkage Targets will be as follows:As industry consultation has already occurred for these items, they could take effect almost immediately after Council adoption.

A full copy of the policy report can be viewed here:

Market Snapshot: 2016 Commercial Assessments

After media reports this week about large assessment increases for residential properties in Vancouver, a quick look at commercial property assessments reveals a similar trend, with rapidly rising values, particularly in certain “hot” areas.

Below is a summary of a random sample of 20 properties within the City of Vancouver with a commercial or multifamily zoning, and the % increase in their respective assessment values this year over last.

(click the chart to view more clearly)

Data source: bcassessment

Data source: BC Assessment

While this analysis is not intended to be exhaustive by any means, it does show some pretty substantial increases in various areas, particularly on or near the Broadway Corridor. Elsewhere, in zones that allow residential development, assessment are rising quickly to reflect sales comparables that are reaching new records on an almost monthly basis. In most cases, it is the land component of the assessments which has risen dramatically in recent years as a result of heightened demand for condo development.

There are likely to be implications for existing commercial tenants in many of these properties as property tax increases flow through to tenants dependent upon their lease structure.

City Backtracks on Towers at Broadway and Commercial

It appears as though there has been heavy public opposition to the idea of towers near Broadway and Commercial as proposed in the recently presented Grandview Woodlands Community Plan.

The preliminary plan, presented at open houses last month suggested a dozen tower sites of 22-36 storeys within a 5-minute walk of the Commercial/Main Skytrain Station.

Grandview Woodlands Plan

Here is an excerpt from a recent planner update:

We are still in the process of gathering input on all aspects of our Emerging Directions work – and many of you have already taken the time to share your feedback on the DRAFT policies.That being said, we have heard clearly from the community that there is serious concern about the extent and height of tower building forms in the vicinity of the station area. In light of this, I wanted to let you know that we will not be proceeding with the proposal as presented in the sub-area policy for Broadway and Commercial.

While we’ve heard support through the planning process for additional density in the Broadway & Commercial area, we know that community members would like to see options of building forms explored that are different than the concentration of tall towers proposed in June.”

Source: City of Vancouver

Market Snapshot: Top Commercial Properties in 2013

To start off the new year, we have compiled a summary of Metro Vancouver’s most valuable commercial real estate assets. The summary is based on a survey of the top 25 commercial properties ranked by asssessed value.

Top Owners 2013While assessed values can often vary significantly from market values (take Bentall 5 for example, which sold for $400M last year), the survey provides a glimpse into who controls the larger commercial assets in Metro Vancouver and yields some interesting observations:

  • Metrotopolis at Metrotown is by far Vancouver’s most valuable commercial property. The nearly 1.8M sq ft shopping centre is assessed at $725M ($406 per sq ft). This value does not include the adjacent office towers, also owned by Caisse de depot, which is Quebec’s largest pension fund manager.
  • The top 25 are almost all retail or office, or both. One apartment and hotel property each cracked the top 25.
  • Pension funds control the vast majority of these larger core/trophy assets. (76% to be exact)
  • A group of 6 pension fund managers (some in partnership) control well over 50% of the top 25.
  • While the top 3 are super regional shopping centres, 15 of the top 25 are Downtown office towers.

Top Owners 2013_1

Top Owners 2013_2

Top Owners 2013_3Where does Vancouver rank next to other cities in terms of commercial property valuations? While Vancouver valuations are among North America’s highest on a price/sq ft and cap rate basis, due to scale we’re not quite in the same league as others for total values… For reference, Scotia Tower in Toronto sold in 2012 for $1.27 Billion. The Bow office tower in Calgary cost $1.4 Billion to construct. Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board acquired a 50% stake in a 2.5M sq ft. Manhattan office tower in 2012 for $576M.

Metro Vancouver Commercial Real Estate Sales Reach Record $1.42 Billion

Metro Vancouver commercial real estate sales reach record $1.42 billion.

Commercial real estate transactions in Metro Vancouver reached an unprecedented six-month total of $1.42 billion during the first half of 2012, breaking the previous record of $1.03 billion set during the first half of 2010, according to a report released Wednesday.

The figures point to a longer-term surge and confidence in commercial land investments, experts say, but belie anxiety over diminishing industrial land availability as it gives way to more apartments and office towers.

Brentwood Centre Commercial Site Sold

A commercially designated site near Lougheed and Willingdon in the Brentwood town centre area has sold.

4488 Halifax Street is a 18,299 sq ft site that is located mid-block on Halifax Street west of Willingdon Avenue.

The property, which has been vacant for several years, sold for $3,313,000. Previous development inquiries for the site included office & commercial schemes at densities up to 6.0 FAR.