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Old Vancouver Stock Exchange becomes part of the City of Glass


Published on: November 8, 2017 | Last Updated: November 8, 2017 7:39 PM PST 
Architects Harry Gugger (left) and Graham Coleman inside the lobby of the restored old building at The Exchange tower in Vancouver.

Blending a heritage building into a new project can be tricky. In many cases, developers simply keep the facade, then build a new building behind, because it’s a lot cheaper.

But the art deco Vancouver Stock Exchange at Pender and Howe is designated Heritage A by the city, Vancouver’s highest ranking. So any redevelopment had to be more than just a facade. It also had to blend into a site that intruded into the city’s view corridors, which protect vistas of the North Shore mountains.

The initial design for a new Exchange Building was announced in 2011. It showed a glass tower that shot up alongside and then over top of the 11-storey Exchange — and promised to be Vancouver’s first LEED Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) platinum office tower, a poster child for Vancouver’s ambition to become the world’s greenest city.

But there were problems with the design, so Swiss architect Harry Gugger was brought in as part of a “peer review” of the project. The owners (Credit Suisse Asset Management in Switzerland, SwissReal Investments in Vancouver) liked his ideas so much that he was brought in as the main architect.

Five years later, the 31-storey Exchange building will be officially unveiled Thursday at 485 Howe St. It’s being hyped as Credit Suisse’s first North American development in its 161-year history, and Canada’s first LEED Platinum heritage conversion.

“There are lots of aspects which lead to (LEED Platinum certification),” said Gugger Wednesday, shortly after jetting into town from Europe. “The building services are highly energy-efficient. We have a new ceiling system which has not been installed before here, a cooling and heating system which works on ground drilling, a heat pump.”

Harry Gugger in front of the Exchange project, where a glass tower was built atop the 1929 Vancouver Stock Exchange building. 

Local project architect Graham Coleman of Iredale Architecture said the green technology will cut energy use dramatically.

“This building is going to use more than 50 per cent less energy than a typical building,” said Coleman. “In its lifetime, it’s going to produce 85 per cent less greenhouse gases than a typical building.”

The project cost $240 million, and includes 372,000 square feet of office, retail and hotel space. The offices are in the new glass tower, the hotel is in the brick heritage building. Sixty-five per cent of the office space is already leased, with National Bank as the anchor tenant. The 202-room hotel will be run by Executive Hotels and is to open in June 2018.

Gugger’s design is subtle, given it’s a massive structure. The 1929 Stock Exchange building remains the dominant architectural feature, even though it’s only 11 of the 31 storeys. The glass tower on top almost recedes into the sky, like fog or clouds.

“The fog — I like that idea, that’s a big compliment,” said Gugger, 61. “We did not want to contribute to the skyline, we really wanted (to contribute) to the streetscape, to the cityscape. The old Stock Exchange should be as before, the building which defines the streetscape, and the new tower should blend in with that.”

Gugger’s design incorporated mullions, vertical bars between panes of glass, to integrate with the Stock Exchange, which was designed by Townley and Matheson, the firm that did Vancouver’s art deco city hall.

“On the one hand (the mullions) help the building to look more slender, the pinstripe principle,” said Gugger. “At the same time they blend in with the pilasters of the old building, the Stock Exchange. They act like (horse’s) blinders towards the Jameson House (a condo across the lane), providing privacy.”

Gugger has worked on many heritage conversions in Europe, including the Tate Modern in London, which turned an old power station into an art gallery. He stresses that the old Stock Exchange isn’t just a facade in the new development.

“The whole building was kept, with bones and skin,” he said. “It wasn’t just the skin; the floors are the old floors. They just continue into the new building.”

The project hasn’t been without controversy, however. Vancouver’s former heritage planner Robert Lemon was the original heritage consultant on the development, but left when he found out the tower was only 10 metres from Jameson House, where he had purchased a condo. Lemon said the standard for highrises like this is a 25-metre separation.

Lemon also questions why the city gave the project additional density, handed out $18 million in heritage density incentives and let the developer build over top of the Heritage A Stock Exchange.

“Heritage Vancouver came out to the public hearing in support of it being good heritage conservation,” said Lemon, who sold his Jameson House condo.

“Well, in my humble opinion, it was not necessary (to have) the beautiful Stock Exchange building with this hovering tower on top of it, making the whole project so expensive that it needed $18 million worth of (heritage) incentives.

“The city could have used $18 million worth of incentives to preserve all the heritage and character homes on the west side, but it’s all going into one office building, which is 65 per cent occupied. It’s a sad state of the city’s heritage program, I must say.”

The Vancouver Stock exchange building at 485 Howe, after it opened in 1929. 

The original design for the Exchange project in 2011. This was nixed in favour of Harry Gugger’s design which de-emphasized the new glass tower. VANCOUVER SUNLink to article:


Opening of New Landmark Office Building The Exchange in Vancouver

Credit Suisse Real Estate Asset Management
Nov 09, 2017, 19:00 ET


Building Wins Design of the Year Award from American Architecture Prize 2017

VANCOUVER, Nov. 9, 2017 /CNW/ - Credit Suisse Asset Management and its Canadian partner today announced the opening of The Exchange office tower in Vancouver’s Financial District. The Exchange is a CAD 240 million investment and the first major project in North America that a real estate fund of Credit Suisse Asset Management built from the ground up.


Pictured from left to right --  Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, Graham Coleman (Iredale Architecture), lead architect Harry Gugger (Switzerland), Franz Gehriger (SwissReal Investments), and Christoph Schumacher (Credit Suisse Head of Global Real Estate) (CNW Group/Credit Suisse Real Estate Asset Management)
Pictured from left to right — Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, Graham Coleman (Iredale Architecture), lead architect Harry Gugger (Switzerland),…

More than 200 people attended the grand opening for The Exchange, Vancouver's tallest LEED Platinum office tower (CNW Group/Credit Suisse Real Estate Asset Management)

More than 200 people attended the grand opening for The Exchange, Vancouver’s tallest LEED Platinum office tower (CNW Group/Credit Suisse Real…

  Pictured from left to right -- Lead architect Harry Gugger, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, Credit Suisse Asset Management's Christoph Schumacher, SwissReal's Franz Gehriger. (CNW Group/Credit Suisse Real Estate Asset Management)

Pictured from left to right — Lead architect Harry Gugger, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, Credit Suisse Asset Management’s Christoph…

“A few years ago, we expressed our confidence in Vancouver’s economy and its future,” said Christoph Schumacher, Head of Global Real Estate at Credit Suisse Asset Management. “While we would typically invest in a fully-developed leased property, we were confident that we could manage this development from start to finish, which speaks to our confidence in Vancouver and its future. Made possible by international partnerships, today, we are proud to deliver an office tower that defines the next generation.”

At a joint news conference with Vancouver’s Mayor Gregor Robertson, the development team celebrated the opening of the 31-storey building, The Exchange, as Vancouver’s tallest LEED® Platinum office tower and Canada’s first LEED®Platinum heritage conversion with the restoration of the Old Stock Exchange building, which opened in 1929. The building ranks as Canada’s eighth largest LEED® Platinum office project.

“Vancouver’s economy is booming and it’s an honour to have a global powerhouse like Credit Suisse choose our city for its first North American project and be a part of our growth,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Office space is at a premium in downtown Vancouver and The Exchange offers critical new job space while delivering a world-class sustainable building that preserves the heritage of the Old Stock Exchange.”

The Exchange’s Vancouver investor said the project speaks to the global impact of Vancouver’s sustainability initiatives, as well as Credit Suisse Asset Management’s standard of excellence.

“When we approached Credit Suisse about building an office tower in Vancouver, critical to their decision was that the project achieve the highest environmental standards and architectural excellence,” said Franz Gehriger, CEO of SwissReal Investments.

World-renowned Swiss architect Harry Gugger designed The Exchange in collaboration with Vancouver-based architectural firm Iredale. Last month, The Exchange won the 2017 American Architecture Prize for Heritage Architecture.

“The new tower arose entirely from the context of the Old Stock Exchange building, which we preserved as the cornerstone of the new structure,” said Harry Gugger, known for his work on Beijing’s Bird’s Nest Stadium and London’sTate Modern Gallery. “The Exchange is a distinctive, iconic pillar of Vancouver’s historic financial district. Viewed from the street, the elegant pinstripes of its façade mullions create a unique identity for the tower at the heart of Vancouver’sdowntown.”

The Exchange will have half the energy load of a traditional office building, with a 35 percent reduction in energy costs and an 85 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

With Vancouver’s office market currently ranking the second tightest in North America, The Exchange is already almost two-thirds leased. Its anchor tenant, National Bank, is the second oldest and sixth largest bank in Canada. It is globally ranked as one of the Top 20 most sustainable financial institutions. National Bank will occupy 45,000 square feet of The Exchange.

Executive Hotels will operate a luxury boutique hotel in the heritage portion of the building, while a Vancouveraccounting firm, Smythe LLP, and a fintech company, HyperWallet Systems, will occupy a total of 50,500 square feet. Swiss chocolatier Lindt has a retail store on the ground level, and Sovereign General Insurance recently signed a lease.

The Exchange creates 1,700 permanent job spaces in Vancouver’s financial core. During construction, the project created 400 direct jobs.

Credit Suisse AG
Credit Suisse AG is one of the world’s leading financial services providers and is part of the Credit Suisse group of companies (referred to here as ‘Credit Suisse’). Credit Suisse is headquartered in Zurich and operates in over 50 countries worldwide. The group employs approximately 46,720 people. The registered shares (CSGN) of Credit Suisse’s parent company, Credit Suisse Group AG, are listed in Switzerland and, in the form of American Depositary Shares (CS), in New York. Further information about Credit Suisse can be found at

Credit Suisse Asset Management (Switzerland) Ltd.
Credit Suisse Asset Management is a global asset manager with more than CHF 366 bn of assets under management (as of 30.06.2017) operating within the International Wealth Management division of Credit Suisse.

Swissreal Investments Ltd.
Swissreal Investments purchased the site in 2003, and in 2008, the Vancouver-based company conceived the idea of building The Exchange. With more than 30 years of experience, Swissreal is a leader in real estate consulting and development. It is a minority investor in The Exchange. For more information about Swissreal, go to

SOURCE Credit Suisse Real Estate Asset Management

For further information: Media Inquiries: Renu Bakshi, telephone 604 787 1873,

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We are pleased to announce The Exchange is 60% leased

The Exchange 60% Leased


Vancouver’s office market makes a comeback

Tenants Trade-up to The Exchange Office Tower
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwired – May 31, 2017) -

Note to Editors: There is a photo associated with this press release.

The next office tower coming to completion in downtown Vancouver is more than half leased with the confirmation of several new tenants, highlighting the city’s commercial market has made a dramatic comeback to become among North America’s strongest.

Today, the development team of The Exchange announced the signing of three tenants, including a high-profile British Columbia-based hotel chain. More than 205,000 square feet have now been leased in advance of the building’s completion.

“When Credit Suisse Asset Management embarked on this ambitious project, we were confident that The Exchange would be able to fill much-needed demand for quality office space,” said Herbert Meier, project manager at Credit Suisse. “We are pleased that The Exchange is now also delivering additional hotel space to Vancouver.”

Executive Hotels & Resorts will operate a 202-room, luxury boutique hotel on 10 floors of the heritage portion of the Old Stock Exchange building (circa 1929) – which is being restored and converted to LEED Platinum as part of the newly-constructed Exchange tower. The conversion could make this Canada’s greenest hotel. It will also have its own entrance and elevators, creating separation between it and the 31-storey office tower.

“The Exchange is arguably the best example of collaborative modern and historic architecture in Canada, and it boasts a world-class location,” said Salim Sayani, president of Executive Group, which recently opened hotels in New York and Toronto. “The Exchange’s design team has done an amazing job integrating state-of-the-art technology with space-planning strategies.”

Other additions to The Exchange include a Vancouver accounting firm that will be headquartered in the building, taking up approximately 28,000 square feet, as well as a local fintech company that is expanding from its existing premises to occupy approximately 22,500 square feet.

According to commercial real estate brokers, Triple-A office space is seeing strong uptake. JLL says vacancy rates last spring were 12.5 per cent. This year, vacancies have dropped sharply to 7.1 per cent, making Vancouver one of the strongest office markets in North America.

“Tech companies represent about 40 per cent of tenant demand in Vancouver, but there is also a resurgence in demand from traditional office users who see this building as an opportunity to refresh their premises and their brands,” said Mark Chambers, JLL Vancouver’s executive vice president of office leasing. “With the upcoming completion of The Exchange, the newly-signed tenants have a chance to be in the heart of Vancouver’s financial district, while also close to other smart, innovative technology companies.”

In 2015, The Exchange signed anchor tenant, National Bank, who will occupy approximately 45,000 square feet. Swiss chocolatier Lindt will operate a retail store on the ground floor.

“Our confidence in the market has come to fruition as we continue to sign tenants for The Exchange,” said Franz Gehriger, president and CEO of Swissreal Investments, the Vancouver-based company developing the tower with Credit Suisse Asset Management.

The Exchange is a CAD $240 million LEED Platinum office tower that includes Canada’s first LEED Platinum heritage conversion. Designed by renowned Swiss architect Harry Gugger in partnership with Iredale Group Architecture of Vancouver, The Exchange is slated for completion at the end of 2017 with 165,000 square feet available for lease.

Media Inquiries
Renu Bakshi, telephone 604 787 1873,
Source: Credit Suisse, otherwise specified.

* Please note that telephone conversations may be recorded. By making a call, you acknowledge your agreement with this business practice.

Credit Suisse AG
Credit Suisse AG is one of the world’s leading financial services providers and is part of the Credit Suisse group of companies (referred to here as ‘Credit Suisse’). As an integrated bank, Credit Suisse is able to offer clients its expertise in the areas of private banking, investment banking and asset management from a single source. Credit Suisse provides specialist advisory services, comprehensive solutions and innovative products to companies, institutional clients and high net worth private clients worldwide, and also to retail clients in Switzerland. Credit Suisse is headquartered in Zurich and operates in over 50 countries worldwide. The group employs approximately 46,640 people. The registered shares (CSGN) of Credit Suisse’s parent company, Credit Suisse Group AG, are listed in Switzerland and, in the form of American Depositary Shares (CS), in New York. Further information about Credit Suisse can be found at

Credit Suisse Asset Management (Switzerland) Ltd.
Credit Suisse Asset Management is a multi-specialist manager with more than CHF 322 bn of assets under management operating within the International Wealth Management division of Credit Suisse. Backed by the institutional quality governance, stability and opportunity of Credit Suisse’s worldwide franchise, we deliver distinct product expertise through active and passive solutions in both traditional and alternative investments.

Swissreal Investments Ltd.
Swissreal Investments purchased the site in 2003, and in 2008, the Vancouver-based company conceived the idea of building The Exchange. With more than 30 years of experience, Swissreal is a leader in real estate consulting and development. It is a minority investor in The Exchange. For more information about Swissreal, go to

This document was produced by and the opinions expressed are those of Credit Suisse as of the date of writing and are subject to change. It has been prepared solely for information purposes and for the use of the recipient. It does not constitute an offer or an invitation by or on behalf of Credit Suisse to any person to buy or sell any security. Any reference to past performance is not necessarily a guide to the future. The information and analysis contained in this publication have been compiled or arrived at from sources believed to be reliable but Credit Suisse does not make any representation as to their accuracy or completeness and does not accept liability for any loss arising from the use hereof.

The key risks of real estate investments include limited liquidity in the real estate market, changing mortgage interest rates, subjective valuation of real estate, inherent risks with respect to the construction of buildings and environmental risks (e.g., land contamination).

To the extent that the information contained herein references securities of an issuer incorporated, formed or created under the laws of Canada or a province or territory of Canada, any trades in such securities must be conducted through a dealer registered in Canada. No securities commission or similar regulatory authority in Canada has reviewed or in any way passed upon these materials, the information contained herein or the merits of the securities described herein and any representation to the contrary is an offence.

The information contained herein may contain “forward-looking information” (“FLI”) as such term is defined under section 1.1 of the Securities Act (Ontario). FLI is disclosure regarding possible events, conditions or results of operations that is based on assumptions about future economic conditions and courses of action and includes future-oriented financial information (“FOFI”) with respect to prospective results of operations, financial position or cash flows that is presented either as a forecast or a projection. “FOFI” is FLI about prospective results of operations, financial position or cash flows, based on assumptions about future economic conditions and courses of action, and presented in the format of a historical balance sheet, income statement or cash flow statement. Similarly, a “financial outlook” is FLI about prospective results of operations, financial position or cash flows that is based on assumptions about future economic conditions and courses of action that is not presented in the format of a historical balance sheet, income statement or cash flow statement.

Recipients should not rely on any FLI that may be contained within this material as such information is subject to a variety of risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from expectations. Upon receipt of this material, each Recipient hereby acknowledges and agrees that any FLI included herein should not be considered material for the purposes of, and may not have been prepared and/or presented consistent with, National Instrument 51-102 Continuous Disclosure Requirements and that the investor will not receive any additional information updating any such FLI, other than as required under applicable securities laws and/or as agreed to in contract. Recipients should consult with their own legal and financial advisers for additional information.

Copyright © 2017 Credit Suisse Group AG and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.

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Vancouver office market hungry for new buildings

Modern office space is becoming harder to find in Vancouver, which may spur some developers to try to accelerate projects in the planning and permitting stages.

“Demand is getting stronger and supply is constrained,” said Michael Wright, vice-president of Newmark Knight Frank Devencore, which just released a new study on Vancouver’s office market. “So in the short term, vacancies will go down and rents will go up and inducements will stay the same or begin to get compressed.

“Our long-term forecast is that, because of the healthy market, the second cycle of more recent development is going to go ahead in the early 2020s. By 2023 and 2024, we should have a number of new buildings delivered to the market. It will shift back to a more balanced tenant-landlord situation.”

Recent activity at The Exchange

The largest tenant transactions over the first five months of the year were: WeWork’s commitment to almost 80,000 square feet in the Anbang Insurance Group-owned Bentall Centre’s Bentall III; and a deal with Executive Group Development to convert approximately 110,000 square feet to hotel use in Credit Suisse’s spec-built $240-million The Exchange building at 475 Howe St.

The hotel will occupy the second through 11th floors of Vancouver’s first LEED Platinum tower, which has 31 storeys. Until recently, National Bank of Canada’s commitment to take 45,000 square feet (including street-level retail) was the only one for the office space.

It was announced on Wednesday, however, that: a Vancouver accounting firm will be headquartered in the building, with approximately 28,000 square feet; and a local financial technology company that’s expanding from its existing premises will occupy approximately 22,500 square feet. The Exchange is scheduled for completion by the end of the year and still has 165,000 square feet of office space available for lease.

“It’s a good building and it’s sort of the last game in town right now that’s got some good contiguous space in it, if you’re looking for a larger block,” said Wright.

Other new Vancouver office projects

Of the two other new office projects, Serracan Properties’ 10-storey, 71,000-square-foot Five Ten Seymour is approximately 90 per cent pre-leased, and Century Group’s four-storey, 25,000-square-foot Ormidale Block at 151 West Hastings St. is fully leased.

Tenants in the technology, finance, professional services and hospitality sectors are driving the recent leasing activity. The overall vacancy rate stands at 7.1 per cent, down from 8.7 per cent a year ago.

The decline in supply has put pressure on average gross rents, which currently stand at $41.76 per square foot, compared to $40.73 a year ago.

“A lot of the improved space has been leased, so large blocks of space are more challenging to come by and the space that is available often is comprised of older space in need of improvements or in shell condition,” said Wright. “What that means is that there is a larger capital investment required for tenants moving into that type of space, which can make it a little trickier given how careful everybody is in this business environment.

“Landlords will offer inducements on those types of spaces to subsidize the capital expenditure required. It differs from landlord to landlord, but some fairly substantial inducements are being provided.

“It’s just a function of ‘How far does that go against the full cost of construction, IT and furniture?’ The inducements offered by the landlords don’t get you there typically.”

Developments that could be accelerated

Westbank has applied to rezone a Budget Rent A Car site at 400 West Georgia St. Wright said the company is looking to move up completion of its proposed 24-storey, 350,000-square-foot office and 5,775-square-foot retail building to late 2019 or early 2020.

Construction has begun on One Burrard Place, a mixed-use development with up to 150,000 square feet of space in a 13-storey class-A office building and 394 residential condominium suites in a 60-storey tower that’s scheduled for completion in 2019 by Reliance Properties and Jim Pattison Developments Ltd.

The east tower of Aquilini Development’s Rogers Arena Towers at 800 Griffiths Way, a mixed-use building with 69,000 square feet of office space, is slated for completion at the end of 2018.

Future office developments

The Newmark Knight Frank Devencore report says other future office developments, most slated for a 2021 opening, include:

  • Morguard’s 25-storey, 227,670-square-foot 601 West Hastings, for which zoning has been approved;
  • Bentall Kennedy’s redevelopment of its existing 12-storey building into the 31-storey, 565,000-square-foot 1090 West Pender Street, for which zoning has been approved;
  • GWL Realty Advisors’ Vancouver Centre II at 650 West Georgia/753 Seymour St., a 32-storey, 380,000-square-foot office tower that will integrate with the existing Vancouver Centre complex;
  • and QuadReal’s redevelopment of the Canada Post site at 349 West Georgia St., which comprises a full city block and has plans that include 512,000 square feet of office space, 274,000 square feet of retail space, rental apartments and condo units, and six levels of parking for cars and bicycles. A formal application for rezoning has been submitted.

Burnaby and Richmond

Burnaby and Richmond are the two biggest office markets in Vancouver’s suburbs, and vacancy rates have dropped in both during the past nine months.

“When new development came on in downtown Vancouver, there was a fair chunk of new development in Burnaby as well,” said Wright. “Demand was going south and supply was going north, so that market softened.

“We’ve seen that correct and a lot of the new developments are pretty close to fully leased there. Richmond has seen positive activity over the past 24 months. In general, I’d say the markets are healthy and getting tighter.”

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Swiss chocolatier Lindt opening store in downtown Vancouver

Downtown Vancouver is set to get another sweet spot with the opening of a Lindt Chocolate Shop at The Exchange tower at the northwest corner of West Pender and Howe streets.

A spokesperson with Credit Suisse, the company developing the office and hotel tower, told Daily Hive that the Swiss chocolatier will open an 1,800- ft² store on the ground floor of the building.

It aims to open the store by the end of October, just in time for Halloween.

The store will offer Lindt’s premium chocolate products, including a wide selection of its famous Lindor balls – a hard chocolate ball filled with a smooth chocolate filling.

There is no word on whether the location will also serve hot and cold beverages.

Lindt has four other locations in Metro Vancouver, including Park Royal in West Vancouver, McArthurGlen YVR Airport Outlet Centre, Queensborough Landing in New Westminster, and Tsawwassen Mills.

Kenneth Chan


Vancouver’s skyline to rise amid an office-tower building boom

VANCOUVER — Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Mar. 28, 2016 9:27PM EDT
Last updated Monday, Mar. 28, 2016 9:29PM EDT

The $240-million Credit Suisse/SwissReal tower in the heart of downtown Vancouver will be completed in less than a year, but so far, only one tenant has signed up to move in.

The tenant has committed for a 10th of the 370,000 square feet – leaving a state of emptiness that is unusual for an office skyscraper in this city. Even so, a huge shift in business tenancy is expected as the region experiences something it has not seen before: an office-tower building boom much of which is speculative construction rather than for specific committed tenants.

“This is kind of uncharted territory for Vancouver,” said Mehdi Shokri, a principal with the capital markets team at Avison Young. “But I don’t see a big disaster occurring.”

The Credit Suisse tower is only the most visible and furthest along of a second wave of new office towers planned for Vancouver and some key suburbs. A first cluster of towers – some two million square feet – was built downtown in the past three years.

Another 11 office developments are proposed within blocks of Credit Suisse’s Exchange tower at Howe and West Pender streets, even while the office-vacancy rate in the region continues to inch up as a result of the first wave of building.

But commercial brokers say the city is not about to be populated by ghost towers.

Mr. Shokri and others say they expect many of the new towers to start signing tenant leases as they get closer to completion. That is partly because companies in Vancouver, which do want to be in new, energy-efficient buildings, tend to operate on short timelines.

As well, he said, prices in the new buildings will likely come down in the next two years due to competition.

The landlords who will likely suffer as a result of the current boom are owners of older buildings, Mr. Shokri said. As well, new developments in the suburbs, which have already experienced higher vacancy rates in recent years, may have trouble as they compete with each other.

In Vancouver, the co-developer of the Credit Suisse tower is optimistic his building will start to fill as the completion date gets closer.

Franz Gehriger, the CEO of SwissReal Group who bought the original historic stock-exchange building in 2002 before partnering with Credit Suisse to develop it, said the main group interested in leasing Vancouver office space these days is the technology sector. Those companies make their decisions just a year before they need to move in.

And, he said, all signs indicate non-Canadian companies are looking for space here.

“Vancouver is on the world map now. We get a lot of calls from California and Seattle of companies that are considering coming here,” Mr. Gehriger said.

Some brokers say the building has had trouble signing tenants because of its unusual design. It is being attached to the existing heritage building, with the new tower starting on a narrow base next to it and then widening out above the older building.

That complicated design did slow construction somewhat, but Mr. Gehriger said “most issues are resolved now.”

He also just switched leasing agents, from CBRE to JLL, at the beginning of the new year, which has prompted local speculation about what is happening with the building.

JLL vice-president Mark Chambers said his company plans to roll out some new strategies for marketing the building, including sophisticated analytical tools that show companies how much they benefit financially by being in energy-efficient buildings that are better designed for their employees.

The Credit Suisse tower will be LEED Platinum, the highest rating on the energy-efficiency scale used for many buildings in North America.

Mr. Chambers, who also marketed the extra space in the recently occupied Telus head office on Georgia Street, said people have been predicting disaster for the Vancouver office market for several years, saying the region would never be able to absorb all the new offices being produced.

But the gloomy predictions turned out to be inaccurate, as new technology companies, notably Amazon, Sony, and Microsoft, arrived to lease big chunks of space.

“I don’t think we’ve reached a limit,” Mr. Chambers said. “We’ve become a global city.”


Credit Suisse, Swiss Real hire new agent to ramp up leasing in Vancouver’s Exchange Building


The real estate investment arm of Credit Suisse and Canadian partner Swiss Real Group Canada have hired JLL Canada to take over leasing of their $240 million Exchange Building office tower project in downtown Vancouver, the companies said Thursday.

To date, the developers have unveiled only one major tenant for the building at the corner of Howe and Pender streets, the Montreal-headquartered National Bank, which, in 2015, pre-leased 45,000 square feet of space in the 31-floor, 372,000-square-foot project.

However, Swiss Real CEO Franz Gehriger said the developers are unconcerned that more tenants have not signed on yet because they are starting to get more calls.

“We’ve really had a lot of interest in the last few weeks and months,” Gehriger said.

Gehriger said the developers were pleased with the job their previous leasing agent, CBRE, did in bringing in an initial anchor tenant, but opted to make a change when the leasing contract expired at the end of 2015.

JLL’s Mark Chambers didn’t mention the names of any potential tenants but “a little bit of paperwork fly back and forth between a few groups.”

“I’m a bit superstitious, I don’t like to get excited about it until we’ve got a deal firm, but we’re feeling positive,” said Chambers, an executive vice-president with JLL.

Chambers said leasing activity in new projects typically ramps up 12 to 18 months ahead of completion, which is where the Exchange is now, with a schedule to be complete in the early summer of 2017.

The Exchange, which launched construction in 2014, is unique in that it incorporates the redevelopment of an existing heritage building, the 11-storey neo-Gothic Old Stock Exchange building at 475 Howe St., which will be incorporated into an office tower that will cantilever over top of its roof from the adjoining lot and rise to 31-storeys.

The developers are billing it as Vancouver’s first LEED Platinum heritage-conversion office building.

And while Thursday’s announcement coincided with the announcement of a major shakeup at Credit Suisse’s investment-banking arm, Gehriger said that news has no impact on the Exchange project.

The Wall Street Journal, on Wednesday, reported that Credit Suisse was cutting 2, o00 jobs from its investment-banking operations and has taken almost $1 billion US in writedowns in its operations.

However, it is Credit Suisse Real Estate Asset Management, which Gehriger described as being backed by pension funds, that owns an 80-per-cent stake in the Exchange project.






Thirty-one storey building billed as one of Canada’s most sustainable office towers

VANCOUVER — The developer behind The Exchange, one of several new office buildings emerging in the Vancouver skyline, has locked up a major banking tenant to anchor the 31-storey downtown project that is being billed as one of Canada’s most sustainable office towers.

Credit Suisse, together with SwissReal Group, is developing the $240-million tower at the corner of Howe and West Pender streets.

It announced a deal last week that will see National Bank take on 45,000 square feet of office and service space at The Exchange when its doors open in Spring 2017.

The Exchange is emerging as a conjoined redevelopment of the Old Stock Exchange tower — a neo-gothic heritage building that opened in 1929. It’s among seven office buildings under development in downtown Vancouver at the moment, a list that also includes the MNP Tower, Telus Garden, and the Pacific Centre development on Granville.

Altogether, about 1.85 million sq. ft. of new office space is set to come online in 2015, with about 1.4 million already pre-leased, according to a report by Avison Young earlier this month.

The Exchange represents one of Credit Suisse’s first major build projects outside of Switzerland.

Norm Taylor, CBRE’s managing director in B.C., said National Bank made a wise move to lock up the space, as new downtown offices in that size category remain hard to find, regardless of the projects now being built.

“Everyone sees the cranes (in the Vancouver skyline) and thinks we’ve completely over-built the marketplace,” said Taylor, whose commercial real estate firm is the listing agency for The Exchange. “For the larger tenants, there’s still not a lot of choice.”

CBRE recently conducted a survey to count office vacancies that measure 40,000 sq. ft. or larger, Taylor said. “There’s less than 10 (of those spaces) available in Vancouver and many already have offers going on them,” he said. “Anyone of size and scale is bumping into competitive demand in the market place.”

Much of the current office space inventory is in the 5,000- to 15,000-sq.-ft. range, he said. “If you’re a large tenant in Vancouver — and by large I would define that as anyone over 30,000 square feet, maybe 25,000 square feet — you’ve got limited options,” he said.

At 31 storeys, The Exchange will be Canada’s second-tallest office tower to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design [LEED] Platinum — the highest sustainability rating from the Canada Green Building Council.

Nadja Gehriger, a vice-president at SwissReal, said The Exchange is being built on spec without an anchor tenant, so the deal with National Bank is not only an important tenancy for the building, but also signals a vote of confidence for Vancouver from the country’s sixth-largest bank.

“I think the market here is still very strong,” she said. “I know other markets like Calgary have been hit, but I think that as far as we can see, and the people we’ve been speaking with on the banking side, things are still going very well and keep moving upward as the economy improves.”

She said The Exchange’s green design matched well with National Bank’s own sustainable commerce mandate. Every office at The Exchange will have fresh air and will be heated and cooled by radiant technology. The building will use LED lighting, and solar panels to heat water. The building is expected to shed 45 per cent of the energy costs and 60 per cent of the energy consumption associated with a conventional office building, Gehriger said.

“Large companies are more and more focused on their (energy) footprint, and if you look at a lot of the big companies’ annual reports, they put a lot of emphasis on that as well,” she said.

A sustainable, comfortable office space is no longer a novelty; it’s a must-have, Taylor echoed. “If you don’t have that, you’re not going into the game.”

Beyond LEED certification, which focuses mainly on building materials and structure, companies are now increasingly considering overall “wellness” in their office spaces, which comes down to healthy and sustainable operating practises, he said.

“Tenants these days are much more sophisticated,” he said. “They look at studies about how productive their employees are, how proud they are of their premises, how comfortable they are. This building was (designed) with this in mind.”