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Block 10 plan includes housing, retail, office space in Vancouver tower

Hot on the heels of the groundbreaking ceremony for the Vancouvercenter’s fourth tower, developer Holland Partner Group is already moving forward on its next big project for downtown Vancouver: a new office and residential tower on Block 10, which would also serve as a new headquarters for the company.

Holland submitted a pre-application packet earlier this month outlining its tentative plan for the block, which includes approximately 150,000 square feet of office space, 125 units of housing, structured internal parking and approximately 12,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

The company’s initial pitch — outlined by Vancouver Community and Economic Development Director Chad Eiken at a May 6 Vancouver City Council meeting — was an 11-story tower with about 110,000 square feet of office space that would be divided between Holland and separate tenants, plus a seven-story residential tower that would be geared toward workforce housing.

The version in the pre-application packet is similar but appears to have grown larger, adding 40,000 more square feet of office space. The building’s total gross square floor area is listed at 374,192 square feet. In an email on Tuesday, Holland Development Manager Jamison Loos confirmed the new 150,000-square-foot office space number, but said that the vision for the block is still an 11-story office tower and a seven-story residential tower with workforce housing.

The project will also include an “incubator” space for small startup companies and a possible flexible-use space for co-working, he said.

The packet lists the building height at approximately 154 feet, which would make it the second-tallest building in downtown Vancouver after the nearby 158-foot-tall Smith Tower, although it would be the third-tallest in Vancouver overall — the record-holder is the 160-foot Firstenburg Tower at the Vancouver PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center.

The main residential lobby would be on the side facing West Eighth Street with a separate office lobby opening out onto Washington Street, according information filed by Holland with the city. The remaining space on those two sides, as well as the entire side facing Columbia Street, would be used for the retail and restaurant space and some residential amenities, such as a fitness center. The parking garage entrance and loading areas would both be on West Ninth Street.

A diagram of the proposed building’s first floor shows the parking garage in the center of the building with the other spaces wrapping around the perimeter. The apartments would include a mix of two-bedroom, one-bedroom and studio units, and would include residential amenities on both the ground floor and roof.

Notably absent from the packet narrative was any mention of a grocery store. Residents have long sought a full-service grocery option in the downtown area, and the city-owned Block 10 was at one point seen as the prime candidate by both residents and elected officials. The block is one of the former Lucky Lager Brewery blocks that the city purchased in the early 1990s. The others have all been redeveloped, but Block 10 has remained empty.

The city began negotiating with Gramor Development in 2017 to reach a sale and development agreement that would bring a grocery store to the site, but the process dragged on and the city council officially abandoned the negotiations in May after concluding that the downtown area still doesn’t have enough density to convince a major grocer to sign on to the project.

The council instead began negotiating a new sale and development agreement with Holland, which viewed the site as a potential location for a new corporate headquarters. The development company is based in Vancouver but has a large national presence, with a portfolio of more than 15,000 owned residential units and another 25,000 managed units as of 2017, as well as about $10 billion in development projects over the past 18 years.

Block 10 is already fenced off and full of construction equipment, but it’s not for the Block 10 project — under a separate agreement, Holland is leasing the southern half of the block to use as a staging ground for construction of the fourth Vancouvercenter tower. That project is slated to be completed in late 2020, but there could be some overlap with the Block 10 project — when Eiken outlined the proposed deal with Holland to the Vancouver City Council in May, he mentioned that it would include a commitment to begin development by the end of the year.

The pre-application packet was received July 5, and a conference with the city is scheduled for 9 a.m. Aug. 1.


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