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Richmond office vacancy lowest since 2008: report

2011 rendering of Ampar Ventures
2011 rendering of Ampar Ventures' multi-phase development near the Oak Street Bridge that will include a 12-storey office tower and two hotels.
— image credit: artist rendering from IBI Group

Richmond's office market continues to recover since peaking in 2010 when one in every four offices were empty.

Avison Young's year-end Metro Vancouver Office Market Report for 2013 shows Richmond no longer boasts the worst vacancy rate in Metro Vancouver.

At year's end, Richmond's rate sat at 15.4 per cent—nearly double the Metro Vancouver average of 7.8 per cent, but better than Surrey's high of 17.3 per cent.

Richmond's rate is now at its lowest point since mid-2008, according to the real estate firm. It reached a peak of 24.6 per cent in the 2010 Olympic year.

"While leasing activity remained limited, vacancy continued to decline in all classes as tenants occupied existing properties," says the report.

Class A properties—the most desirable—still have the highest vacancy rate of 19 per cent. The rate for the lesser Class B rests at 7.9 per cent, while Class C properties boast the lowest rate: 5.7 per cent.

Avison Young predicts Richmond's recovery will slow in 2014, and rental rates will remain stable.

"Many class A business parks in Richmond are not ideally positioned to public transit hubs and that may hinder the overall market’s revitalization and raise questions around the value of redeveloping such sites," according to the report.

Several proposals to develop new office space in Richmond are still on hold. One such property taxiing on the runway is Vancouver Airport Authority's proposed Sea Island Business Park, a project that includes 800,000 square feet of office space and a hotel.

Ampar Ventures is also planning a multi-phase development near the Oak Street Bridge that will include a 12-storey office tower and two hotels.

Other proposals that could bring new office space here include a $150-million project 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 the International Trade Centre, which calls for a hotel and office development with three high-rise towers.

Jingon International Development Group is also proposing a massive phased development on nearby Duck Island that includes up to four million square feet of floor space. Office space is among the planned uses.

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