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Richmond office market shows ‘slow but steady’ rebound

Signs have gone up around 8451 Bridgeport Rd., the site of the proposed International Trade Centre, which includes hotel and office space.  - Matthew Hoekstra photo
Signs have gone up around 8451 Bridgeport Rd., the site of the proposed International Trade Centre, which includes hotel and office space.
— image credit: Matthew Hoekstra photo

Richmond’s sky-high office vacancy rate has fallen to a five-year low but remains the highest in the region, according to a new report from Avison Young.

The firm’s Mid-Year 2013 Metro Vancouver Office Market Report pegs the vacancy rate at 17.3 per cent—4.5 per cent less than one year ago—demonstrating the local market’s continued slow recovery.

“Continued tightening of the Richmond vacancy rate remains a good news story for the market, which has seen a slow but steady rebound since 2010,” said Darrell Hurst, Avison Young principal, in a news release.

Surrey’s vacancy rate is close behind, at 16.7 per cent. The lowest rate belongs to downtown Vancouver, at 4.6 per cent, while Metro Vancouver’s average stood at 7.5 per cent after the first six months of 2013.

In its semi-annual survey, Avison Young noted vacancy in the Richmond market is at its lowest point since 2008 after peaking at 24.6 per cent.

Numerous concepts and proposals exist for new office space in Richmond, but developers are proceeding with caution.

Vancouver Airport Authority has plans to build an 800,000-square-foot business park, along with a 250-room hotel, within two transit stops of the airport terminal. Original plans called for construction to begin in 2012, but shovels have yet to hit the ground.

Near the Oak Street Bridge, Ampar Ventures has plans for a multi-phase development near the Oak Street Bridge that will include a 12-storey office tower and two hotels. The $100-million project is called the Ampri International Gateway Centre.

Other projects in the proposal stage that would bring new office space include a $150-million development at Sea Island Way and No. 3 Road called Global Education City. That project includes a nine-storey office and campus building, a 15-storey dormitory building for foreign students and a six-level parkade and amenity building.

Across the street is a proposal for “Richmond’s next epicentre of business,” dubbed the International Trade Centre. The proposal calls for a hotel and office development with three high-rise towers.

Also nearby is Duck Island, current home of the Richmond Night Market, where Jingon International Development Group is proposing a massive phased development boasting up to four million square feet of floor space. Office space is among the planned uses, which also include room for retail, entertainment, hotels, a conference centre and parks.

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