Plus, proposed condo sales with no down payment and Eldorado mining projects red-taped in Greece
Tech booms downtown
One of Seattle’s biggest tech companies is looking for a large office space in downtown Vancouver, part of a growing trend in demand for big floorplates. Tableau Software Inc. recently opened a temporary office at 885 West Georgia St., and is seeking a permanent 55,000-sq.-ft. space downtown. According to a report by Colliers International on the Metro Vancouver office market, demand has surged for office space over 15,000 sq. ft. downtown. Colliers attributes the rising demand to a healthy growth in the technology and digital media industry. Tableau will join other international tech companies including Sony Pictures Imageworks, Amazon and Microsoft, who have all recently set up shop in the neighbourhood.
Tableau, which has a market capitalization of $6.4 billion, is a leading provider of data-visualization software tools aimed at helping people understand vast amounts of information. Started at Stanford in 2003, Tableau offers software that takes spreadsheet formats and translates the information to readable graphs or charts. After gaining traction amongst enterprise users, from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses, Tableau is now trying to target the consumer market with its latest app called Vizable. On smartphones or tablets, the app takes data from Fitbit or budgets from Mint and translates them into understandable formats.
New condo, no money down
A B.C. developer is proposing a plan to sell condos in a new Port Moody building to people who don’t have the cash for a down payment. Townline Homes has worked with BC Housing to structure the program, which will offer first-time buyers the chance to purchase a unit in The Strand for eight per cent less than the appraised market value. The eight per cent would be used as an effective down payment for a mortgage.
“It’s just a different spin on, ‘How do we provide an affordable home ownership option to buyers who otherwise can’t get into the market?’” Townline vice-president of marketing Chris Colbeck told CBC News.
The proposal will need to be approved by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which usually requires a minimum of five per cent down payment to qualify for insurance. CMHC could grant an exception under its Flexibilities for Affordable Housing program.
In Townline’s plan, buyers must have a family income of at least $65,850 for a one-bedroom unit, or $92,430 for a two-bedroom suite. Buyers must live in the home as a principle residence for a minimum of two years, after which they are free to sell it at market value. If the program is approved, Townline hopes to offer 84 condos up for pre-sale this spring.
Mine not yours
Vancouver-based Eldorado Mines is suspending work at one of its mines in northern Greece and laying off 600 workers, as it continues to face-off with the Greek government for delaying and revoking construction permits. Eldorado’s Skouries processing plant has divided local residents, with supporters and opponents staging demonstrations and, at times, clashing.
In a news release, Eldorado reported that Hellas Gold, a Greek subsidiary of Eldorado, had received approval for its Environmental Impact Study in 2011. Since then the Greek Ministry of Energy and Environment and other agencies had failed to issue permits and licenses, “primarily as a result of the lobbying efforts of anti-development interest groups.” Eldorado has filed various court actions to try to force the agencies to meet their contractual obligations. In 2015, the ministry revoked or suspended several permits.
Hellas Gold is waiting for a permit to continue work towards producing ore at its Olympias Project. The release noted that if this permit is not received by the end of the first quarter in 2016, it will have to suspend operations at this project as well, laying off 500 workers.
Paul N. Wright, president and CEO of Eldorado, stated in the press release that the company would prefer to be creating more jobs in Greece. “Since 2012, we have created approximately 2,000 direct jobs in the country and invested in excess of $700 million US towards the development of the Skouries and Olympias projects – including tax payments in excess of €120 million to the Greek government,” he said. “However, since the beginning of 2015, the Ministry has adopted an openly confrontational attitude towards our business and investments, which has had a detrimental impact on our schedule and budget to develop our mineral assets in Halkidiki.”