cambie corridor

Investor-driven condos forecasted to fill housing gap through 2021

According to a report from Central 1 Credit Union, Ontario’s housing market is forecasted to grow through 2021, and that includes the need for investor-driven condos in downtown Toronto.

“In higher urban markets, condos should remain a viable investment vehicle because there are a lot of people coming in who will need a roof over their heads,” said Central 1’s regional economist, Edgard Navarrete, the report’s author.

“Population growth is still at about trend, or even slightly above trend, over the next three years and that’s because, even though the housing market is at times relatively unaffordable in the region as a whole, the economy is still attracting a lot of people for work and to education institutions, particularly in urban centres.”

The supply of purpose-built rentals, townhomes and condo apartments has been on the rise throughout Ontario due to strong population growth. Navarrette added that Ontario’s population is forecasted to grow 1.7% this year, 1.7% next year, and 1.8% in 2021.

“With an influx of people coming in, there will be increased demand for condo apartments, townhomes and single-detached homes in secondary markets to meet that demand,” he said.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, according to the Central 1 report, will help buyers gain entry into the housing market, but it may be short-lived as demand will likely result in bidding wars, thereby driving prices skyward.

“Part of the reason they put this in place is to help people get into higher-density housing, but, unfortunately, with the program starting in September the increased demand for entry-level condos will start raising the prices in that segment, and you can expect bidding wars,” said Navarrette.

Although Central 1’s report is, overall, optimistic, it warns of headwinds blowing from the U.S.-China tariff war.

“We’re also expecting the economy to slow down a bit over the next couple of years,” said Navarrette. “It won’t be below negative growth, but it will grow below trend because of our trading partners, not our economy. The U.S. has put in protectionist measures, which could slow down their economy, the global economy, and we’d be affected through trade channels, which will affect consumer confidence, business confidence, and business investment, as well as spending on big ticket items like cars.”

www.canadianrealestatemagazine.ca | by Neil Sharma | 24 Jul 2019

Market rental tower going up on Robson Street

Vancouver mayor welcomes pet-friendly West End highrise, citing need for market rental buildings

To emphasize that the new highrise being built at 1500 Robson St. will be pet friendly, two dogs — Hazel and Trink — made an appearance at the Feb. 20 ground breaking. They're pictured with (left to right) Mayor Kennedy Stewart, as well as Ralf Dost, Steve Marino and Jeff Fleming from GWL Realty Advisors.

It’s unusual to see a pair of dogs — in this case Hazel and Trink — at a press conference packed with developers, real estate types and politicians. But not when you’re trying to underscore the fact a new development will be pet friendly in a city where it's notoriously difficult to find an apartment that accepts animals.

That was the case Feb. 20 at a ground breaking for a 21-storey market rental building going up at 1500 Robson St. in Vancouver’s West End.

The pooches got a front-row seat to hear speakers, including Mayor Kennedy Stewart, praise the tower, which will produce 128 rental units, a third of which (42 units) will be two- and three-bedroom family-sized apartments ranging from 753 to 978 square feet.

London Life Insurance Company is the owner of the project, which is being developed by GWL Realty Advisors and designed by IBI Group

The tower is being built on Robson at Nicola Street and is expected to be completed in 2021. | Rendering IBI Group

The tower is being built on Robson at Nicola Street and is expected to be completed in 2021. | Rendering IBI Group

It’s one of the first rental towers to be built along Robson in decades, “in a city that’s in need of rental housing and in a neighbourhood of luxury condominiums,” according to GWL Realty, and the first rental project on Robson to be approved under the city’s West End Community Plan, which was adopted in 2014.

Ralf Dost, president of GWL Realty Advisors’ real estate portfolio, said it’s important to create more purpose-built rental apartments given Vancouver’s tight vacancy rate and the fact much of the existing stock is dated and in need of upgrades.

“We also know how challenging it is to make financial sense of multi-residential developments, especially in this West End neighbourhood, so all of these factors make the launch of this project today that much more gratifying,” he said.

Stewart agreed that increasing the supply of secured market rental apartments “is more important than ever” when more than 50 per cent of residents are renters and vacancy rates are at an all-time low.

“It’s the kind of ground-breaking we all like to come to because it is helping us with our key problem of [increasing] market rentals. We need all kinds of rentals in the city — we need affordable rentals, but market rentals are also a key part of fixing our supply problem,” he said, while adding that residents have also been pushing for the construction of units big enough for families.

“Increasing the supply as well as diversity of rental housing in our city will benefit all Vancouverites, especially young families. I used to rent right across the street so I know how vibrant this neighbourhood is, and bringing 128 more families in here is just going to really help the local merchants.”

The highrise, located at the corner of Robson and Nicola streets, is expected to be completed in 2021. It will feature “substantial” bicycle storage and maintenance facilities, as well as indoor and outdoor amenities, including fitness, yoga and lounge rooms, a rooftop patio and a common area for tenants on the penthouse floor.

It’s replacing a low-rise commercial building that used to face Robson, which featured a few residential units, as well as a residential building behind it that was mostly rented to international students. The 12 tenants who lived in the two buildings were relocated elsewhere with some assistance. GWL Realty Advisors provided tenants with the equivalent of two or more months’ rent based on length of tenancy, and support with moving expenses.

It’s too early to say what rents will be in the new building, but they will be at market rates.

The average rent for a bachelor suite in the West End was $1,254 in 2018, according to CMHC data, while a one-bedroom was $1,566, a two-bedroom was $2,330 and a three-bedroom was $3,368 — tough rates for the average Vancouverite to afford.

Stewart told the Courier the city is focused on ensuring both market and affordable rental units are created.

“We need rental for all income levels. I’m a renter. My wife and I are renters, and we can afford to live in market rental housing, and that’s what we live in. There’s lots of employment in this city that’s coming in where you have folks that have a higher income level that need this kind of housing too,” he said. “[While] our focus is going to be on making sure we maximize the number of the non-market housing units that we have built, we also have to encourage this kind of build... That’s why I’m here at this announcement today. [It's] because this kind of housing is also needed.”

When asked what he would say to West End residents who’ve complained the community plan bumped up land values so high that it’s pushing people out of the neighbourhood due to redevelopment, Kennedy said: “The West End area plan is full of protections for folks living there now and into the future, so we just have to make sure we get the balance right. It is these developers and these construction companies that are building all the housing in the city. We are living in a market economy. However, we have to do everything we can to incentivise non-market housing development and get the federal and provincial governments back into the housing game so they can help us provide much more affordable units. But the focus is on rentals of all levels here at the city.”


The 21-storey tower at 1500 Robson St. will feature 128 market rental units. Rendering IBI Group

The 21-storey tower at 1500 Robson St. will feature 128 market rental units. Rendering IBI Group

Naoibh O’Connor Vancouver CourierFebruary 20, 2019 | westerninvestor.com

Future Broadway Corridor shopping hub comes into focus

Cambie at West Broadway eyed for long-term redevelopment plans

Retailers are looking at 2019 as a year when a strong B.C. economy will keep sales growth robust, even as e--commerce continues to chip away at bricks-and-mortar store sales.

The future of retail space in both traditional and emerging spaces near Vancouver transit stations will likely gain clarity, while established prime shopping strips in the city struggle to remain relevant.

And while some of those strips have endured plenty of empty storefronts, there will be a collection of new retailers staking territory and vying for success.

One emerging retail area in Vancouver that is likely to be a high-traffic hub in a decade is unlikely to be on many people’s radar in 2019, as its transformation is largely in a conceptual stage.

Work crews, however, are gutting longtime retail spaces on the northwest corner of West Broadway at Cambie Street, where a second-floor Original Joe’s restaurant has long had prominent signage.  A ground-floor Starbucks and a string of other businesses stretching west all vacated space months ago to make way for a mixed-use building that will have five storeys of office space above two storeys of retail.

Pacific Crown Management Co. Ltd. gained a development permit earlier this year for the Yorkson Investment Co. Ltd.-owned site at 510 West Broadway, which is across the street from the Broadway-City Hall Canada Line station.

The project is significant because it is the first of many projects that are in various stages of conception. Those projects are expected to transform the area into a hub because it will in future be home to the intersection of two transit lines. Work on the Millennium Line Broadway Extension is expected to start in 2020 and complete in 2025.

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation told Business in Vancouver that work to determine exact station locations is underway, and the ministry is now initiating discussions with property owners.

Rumours have circulated in retail circles about the possibility of a shopping centre being built under city hall and its lawns, which are south of the Canada Line station. The City of Vancouver is allotting $2 million for “master planning for the city hall precinct” in its 2019 budget.

Other potential projects in the neighourhood could be on sites such as 310 West Broadway, about a block east, where there is now a No Frills grocery store, said Retail Insider Media owner Craig Patterson.

“It’s safe to say that there are multiple proposals for development based on the fact that transit is being expanded in that area,” Patterson said.

The city’s current shopping hub servicing two transit lines is at the corner of Granville and West Georgia streets, where the landmark Hudson’s Bay Co. (HBC) building has been subject to much speculation over its future.

HBC and joint venture partner RioCan REIT put the store’s real estate on the block in 2017 and were rumoured to have been close to a sale in 2018. That deal fell through, however, prompting a reassessment of the site’s future and possibly the severing of an agreement between HBC and workspace company WeWork.

WeWork had been slated to lease the top two floors so HBC could consolidate in the rest of the building.

“I don’t know what will happen with WeWork,” Patterson said. “That was to be the sublease agreement. They were supposed to come in. The Bay was going to move menswear into the basement. We’ll see if that happens.”

Retailers along longtime prime shopping streets such as Robson and Alberni, meanwhile, will have their work cut out for them in the new year.

Robson Street in 2018 suffered a lot of rotation and plenty of empty storefronts in prime blocks east of Bute Street.

 “I was told that some stores’ sales on Alberni Street, in the luxury area, are down,” Patterson said, adding that he has heard that the reason for the sales decline is a drop in traffic from Chinese tourists – and this was before Canada arrested high-profile Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou.

Rumblings about boycotts of Canadian goods and anti-Canada sentiment in Chinese media may stem the flow of wealthy Chinese tourists to Vancouver in 2019, and that could hurt shopping strips such as Alberni Street, Patterson said.

Nonetheless, he expects new retailers such as Warby Parker, Vacheron Constantin, Montblanc and Cartier to open Vancouver stores and to do well.

Hermès’ future two-storey flagship store is under construction on the southwest corner of Burrard and West Georgia streets. Retail sales in B.C. in 2018 are expected to grow by less than 4 per cent, which would be less than half of the 9.6 per cent retail sales growth in the province in 2017 – the highest annual rate since 1994, and the largest increase among provinces.

B.C. has the lowest unemployment rate among provinces and the economy is strong, however, and those are positive indicators for retail sales growth in 2019.

Copyright © Western Investor  Glen Korstrom Business in Vancouver January 24, 2019