Real estate in Vancouver boosted by strong BC retail sales

The first half of 2016 saw record transactions of retail properties in Metro Vancouver, as the sales volume hit $1.1 billion, according to Altus Group.

This could soon double as part of a single deal expected to be announced in the new year as Cadillac Fairview, the real estate arm of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, completes the projected $2 billion sale of 49% of its Metro Vancouver portfolio, which includes the 1.6-million-square-foot Pacific Centre, Vancouver’s biggest and most profitable shopping mall, and Richmond’s 760,000-square-foot Richmond Centre.

While there are persistent rumours the sale has been completed, CBRE Group Inc.’s Jim Szabo, the sale’s lead broker, said in early December, “I cannot confirm or deny, but I can say that it has not happened.”

The real estate demand is fuelled by B.C.’s roaring retail sales. In 2016, consumer sales volumes in B.C. were projected to reach $74.9 billion, up 6% from a year earlier. This would be the highest growth rate in the country, according to Statistics Canada.

And, even with the opening of Canada’s largest new indoor shopping mall in South Delta in 2016 (Tsawwassen Mills by Ivanhoé Cambridge), Metro Vancouver remains under-supplied with retail. The region’s 14.3-square-foot per-capita shopping space is the lowest among all big Canadian cities. Toronto’s is 21.6 square feet; Calgary’s is 22, according to Colliers.

The largest Metro retail projects planned or in progress, Brentwood Town Centre in Burnaby and Lougheed Town Centre on the Burnaby-Coquitlam border, both led by Shape Properties, and the Oakridge Centre in Vancouver by Ivanhoé Cambridge, all have a strong component of highrise condominiums.

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