Real Estate Forum: Transit Oriented Development

Crossroads (left) at Broadway and Cambie is across the street from the Canada Line Skytrain.

Panel of real estate experts praise Vancouver’s transit oriented development projects

Yesterday the Vancouver Convention Centre played host to this year’s annual Vancouver Real Estate Forum. The one-day conference included talks from some of the city’s most accomplished real estate professionals who provided insight into where they think Vancouver’s much-discussed real estate market is headed.

One such session focused on transit-oriented development. Moderated by Urban Development Institute president and CEO Anne McMullin, the session featured panelists Gary Andrishak, director of IBI Group; John Horton, president of Properties Corp.; Dan Turner, executive vice-president of PCI Developments Corp. and Richard Weir, vice-president of Bosa Development Corp.

Transit oriented development (TOD) has taken off in Vancouver, with places like Metrotown, Cambie’s Crossroads development and the soon-to-be-updated Brentwood Mall all operating as hubs built around skytrain stations.

While access to transit can be a boon for a development project, all four of the panelists agreed that it alone does not guarantee the success of a project. Rather, for a TOD to work, it requires proximity to amenities (restaurants and retail stores, in addition to transit) and a critical mass of residents and shoppers who will frequent the development. “Transit is a valuation tool” for renters, buyers and retailers said Horton—it can contribute greatly to the desirability of a development.

While residential and retail obviously see benefits from being located close to a transit hub, Weir surprisingly said that office space benefits much more from its proximity to transit. While getting to-and-from work is one of the most important issues facing employees, residents have much more boxes to tick when looking at where they’d like to live—“Skytrain is only one of a basket of amenities that residents want,” says Weir.