Lululemon
Credit: Reliance Properties. Burrard Place will house Lululemon's new office

The company is leasing out space in the newly built Burrard Place

Office culture won’t fully return to what it was pre-pandemic, we know that much. But there are still companies intent on establishing a brick-and-mortar presence. Chief among them, in B.C. at least, is apparel retailer Lululemon, which announced today plans to lease out most of Reliance Properties’ Burrard Place in Vancouver’s downtown.

The company will take up nine of Burrard Place’s floors (approximately 120,000 square feet), making it the largest office lease transaction in recent years in the city.

Of course, those in the real estate industry are using this as an opportunity to go against the remote or hybrid models that companies have started to adopt in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This transaction signals that large firms are committed to office space, which changes the pervasive pandemic narrative that cast into doubt the need for office space,” said Blair Quinn, vice chairman of CBRE, the company that brokered the transaction, in a release.

It’s possible that this signals a transition. According to CBRE, the last major pre-lease in Vancouver was in 2018, when Amazon signed 1.1 million square feet in two phases at The Post redevelopment on Georgia Street.

It’s also possible that Lululemon is simply an outlier. The clothier is still slated to move its headquarters from Kitsilano into a giant new building on Great Northern Way.

It remains to be seen, but for now, the parties in question are taking this as a giant win for the return of the office.

“In our 60-year history, this is our first office development from the ground up, so to sign a global homegrown brand like Lululemon is a real win,” said Jon Stovell, president and CEO of Reliance Properties.