Commercial Real Estate: MEC move a natural for Vancouver's vibrant Olympic Village area

 

New flagship store will replace the aging West Broadway location

 
 
 
 
Artist rendering of MEC’s new space near Olympic Village in Vancouver.
 

Artist rendering of MEC’s new space near Olympic Village in Vancouver.

Photograph by: submitted MEC, Vancouver Sun

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VANCOUVER -- Mountain Equipment Co-op’s plan to open a 45,000-square-foot flagship store at 2nd Avenue and Quebec Street will add yet another shot in the arm of Vancouver’s False Creek and Mount Pleasant neighbourhoods — a node that is quickly becoming one of the city’s key commercial and residential districts, local commercial real estate brokers say.

The two-storey shop, announced last week, would replace the MEC’s aging location at 130 Broadway, a few blocks to the south of the new site. If approved, construction is expected to start in early 2017 with a mid-2018 opening.

The store would occupy most of a 60,000-square-foot three-storey mixed-use building proposed by Beedie Development Group. The developer has set a target of LEED Gold certification and the building would feature a green roof that captures water.

“The [new] site needs a major refresh,” MEC’s CFO Sandy Treagus said in an interview. “I think it was previously touted for some other purpose, but I think our use is a fantastic choice.”

He said their current leased location on Broadway had changed hands recently and they expected that the new owners would eventually redevelop it. He said the new location would provide the ideal shopping destination in a burgeoning district for their 400,000 members in the region.

“For us it would be impossible to stay [in the existing building] during a redevelopment so we suspected at some stage there would be a need to relocate and we wanted to do it on our terms,” he said.

Treagus said the relocation would not result in MEC’s closure in Vancouver for any period of time.

Just last October, MEC opened their new headquarters in nearby False Creek flats, where some 300 staff now work out of a state-of-the art four-storey, 112,000-square-foot glass, wood and steel building on Great Northern Way.

The company and building designers claim it is one of Vancouver’s greenest and most innovative offices.

Treagus said roughly half of their current 18 stores in Canada are leased spaces and they were comfortable being tenants in False Creek.

MEC was an early entrant in the Mount Pleasant/False Creek community, said Chris Newton and Matthew MacLean, a pair of commercial brokers in Vancouver for Cushman and Wakefield, in an interview last week.

Before MEC’s office relocation to False Creek Flats, they held a long-term lease at the Radia Block building on West 4th Avenue owned by Hungerford Properties.

“It’s a vibrant and lively spot,” Newton said, referring to the area in and around Olympic Village. “You’ve got grocery and drug(store) amenities and Steel Toad [brewery] and all the breweries are doing really well. The developments are coming to fruition.”

He said the area has emerged as a strong residential and commercial periphery around the downtown core.

“From a real estate perspective, I think you could see that this was an area that was going to bloom,” Newton said.

“I think [MEC] has always been pioneers of what they do,” added MacLean. “I think moving their headquarters there was a pioneering move and you’re seeing a lot of people follow suit. Some of the major developers are now buying … land down there.”

Olympic Village is now more than just condos, MacLean said.

“There was initially a lot of negative publicity surrounding it, with not only the developer but also the city of Vancouver, and a lot of finger pointing,” he said. The influx of residents has brought “an enticing level of interest from the retailers, who really are going to be benefiting from that demographic change, density change.”

MEC’s Treagus said Vancouver remains their strongest market. “They’re all of equal importance to us, but just given the amount of time we’ve been in Vancouver, we’ve had such a loyal member base and for us it’s all about serving the member.”

Beedie Group’s Houtan Rafii said MEC provides them with a high profile brand with a long history in the city and the area.

“They’re recognized nationally and almost internationally for their dedication to their customers, for their sustainable development, for their sustainable lifestyle,” he said in an interview.

He said the building will be designed and constructed to MEC’s requirements.

“What’s also very exciting for us is to build a world-class sustainable retail building,” he said.

The existing building houses a “variety of smaller businesses,” including storage space and a dental lab, Rafii said. All of the businesses were aware that the building was slated for redevelopment, he added.

evan@evanduggan.com

Twitter.com/EvanBDuggan

 
 
 
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Artist rendering of MEC’s new space near Olympic Village in Vancouver.
 

Artist rendering of MEC’s new space near Olympic Village in Vancouver.

Photograph by: submitted MEC, Vancouver Sun

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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