For the future of urban industrial development, one Vancouver company is looking into the past.
PC Urban unveiled its latest project, Evolution. The stacked industrial design will transform a 1920s building into a four-storey, 104,000-sq-ft industrial park with 18-foot-tall ceilings and customizable warehouse space. It also will feature three large freight elevators.
“Though we would like to view this as entirely new, the reality is that 70 to 80 years ago this was how they used to find accommodation,” said Brent Sawchyn, principal and CEO of PC Urban Properties Corp.
Sawchyn explained one of the clearest examples of this is in Winnipeg where the textile industry was on the fringe of the downtown core in large masonry buildings six to eight stories high with a massive freight elevator on one side. But as the suburbs grew, those businesses moved out into traditional industrial parks.
“However, as cities have intensified, businesses want to establish a foothold where their employees live, where transit is, where decision makers are,” Sawchyn said. “We are seeing a marked increase in demand for businesses to be closer to the inner-city part of Vancouver much like it used to be 70 or 80 years ago.”
PC Urban believes that the rarity of urban industrial spaces as well as the opportunity to buy into a strata rather be left to the whims of the changing lease market presents an opportunity that soon may be gone. Sawchyn explained that industrial land could be completely spoken for by 2025 in Vancouver, which is forcing developers to be creative.
“What’s old is new again,” said Sawchyn. “In places like Vancouver, we recognize that there is a constant influx of people into urban centres where there is a lack of land, lack of opportunities. And what really appeals is that we sell the units rather than lease them. Strata now gives purchaser control of their destiny.”
He added that this stability allows businesses greater ability to plan for the future. It is the sixth in a series of industrial strata projects called IntraUrban which aim to provide industrial solutions in cities. The first was on Laurel Street in Vancouver. Four others have been built in Richmond, Burnaby, Kelowna, and Calgary.
“There is an urgency here that the ability today to buy something today as opposed to waiting later is starting to resonate,” said Sawchyn. “All of the IntraUrban projects so far, I know this will be same for Evolution, sold out the entire project in a couple months of starting construction, which historically is unheard of for an industrial project.”
Following demolition and hazardous material remediation, PC Urban expects to begin construction this summer. They expect it will take around 20 months to build.