HP, a software company with a corporate campus in east Vancouver, is in negotiations to purchase 68 acres of industrial land in an area key to future development in the city.
The city of Vancouver announced Wednesday afternoon that HP was planning to move out of its current leased facilities at the Columbia Tech Center and build a new location from scratch at what was once the English Pit gravel mine.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Chad Eiken, the city’s community and economic development director. “They’re looking to sort of control their destiny. They can do that, with room to grow.”
The first phase of the move would only take up about 28 acres and involve initial development of two office buildings with 330,000 square feet of office space. Subsequent phases would see the company’s presence grow to encompass an estimated 1.5 million square feet, including more room for offices, research and development and manufacturing.
HP has been in negotiations with the city for about a year, Eiken added. The company currently employs around 1,100 people in Vancouver — 700 badge-carrying employees, and another 400 full-time contractors.
Specifics of the sale, including the land’s price, were worked out between the company and the English family, which still owns the land, Eiken said.
“We are fortunate that HP, which has had a significant presence in Vancouver for almost 40 years, wants to stay and grow right here in our community,” said Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle in a press release.
The company’s move to the area is significant because it marks the first step to developing Section 30, an area the city’s been planning to fill with offices and light industrial uses for more than a decade. Vancouver adopted a subarea plan for the entire 553-acre region back in 2009, seeking to add development potential in an area largely vacant.
Today, the area remains undeveloped. Previous mining operations have left the land with different elevations, further complicating any development.
“The parcel that they are purchasing, it will involve some fill but it’s really much closer to being construction-ready than some of the other mines out there,” Eiken said. “It will take some time to get the infrastructure in place. That’s one of the reasons why Section 30 hasn’t developed sooner — there’s really no street network, there’s no water, sewer, (or) storm infrastructure.”
According to a tentative timeline of the project, HP plans to continue design work until 2023, when the first phase of construction is scheduled to begin. The company is aiming to move into the new buildings in late 2025.
The development agreement between the city and the company will be the subject of a workshop before the Vancouver City Council on Dec. 9. A follow-up public hearing is scheduled for Dec. 16, where citizens can provide feedback.