A couple of commercial real estate projects have made the news in Victoria this week. One story discusses how Evergreen Centre, Sooke’s largest shopping centre, is in the process of being sold to a new owner. This commercial property, home to a largest supermarket, a national bank branch, and a retail and pharmacy store, will be managed by LAPP Global Asset Management, an affiliate of IGW REIT, one of Canada’s largest private real estate investment trusts. Sooke, a bedroom community of Victoria, BC, is growing fast. Land in BC’s Capital Region is at a premium (Victoria, after all, is located at the tip of an island, and is hemmed in by ocean, mountains, farmland, and land reserved for green space), so Sooke has a bright future. The population is affluent, and the community itself is extremely desirable, as it will likely escape the explosive growth of its sister-municipalities to its west.

The second bright spot for commercial real estate in BC this week is the announcement that Victoria’s Plaza Hotel will finally be renovated, once again with a little help from League. The Plaza Hotel, most famous in Victoria for being the home of Monty’s Showroom Pub (a strip club) is the last remaining commercial building in its neighbourhood to await revitalization. Mountain Equipment Co-op has moved in across the street, as well as a number of nice new condominiums,so the Plaza Hotel looks positively blighted in comparison (especially when contrasted with chic Lower Johnson, just a block away).

Plans for the Plaza Hotel include mixed use affordable housing, market condominiums and commercial opportunities at street level. As well, the somewhat less-than-stellar backside of the hotel may be converted into a street-level open-air cafe.

Here’s more information about the two League Assets-related projects.

Add these stories about the second phase of the Uptown Project and the recent addition of a new movie theatre to the Westshore region, and the Victoria BC commercial real estate scene is looking very rosy indeed.

- Charles Edwards frequently blogs on Canadian REIT topics

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One blogger in Toronto believes the next 10 years may be better than the last 10 years, in regards to what commercial real estate gets built. The last 10 years, Bert Archer notes, have not been great for creative and visionary real estate projects in Toronto. One reason is because of the Megacity:

Local architects haven’t been able to navigate their way through all the committees, boards and panels that have to sign off on anything before it gets built.

“It’s become a very, very complex group of problems… We have the municipal planning process, planners, ratepayer councils, design review panels, neighbourhood design charettes. You don’t just have a client anymore, you have a huge collaborative effort.

And it’s not just that there are so many of them; it’s that they all seem to be going in different directions.

Archer, though looks on the bright side: for most of the past 100 years of urban architecture, building design has always been constrained by municipal rules, and he uses the iconic Empire State Building and Chrysler building in New York as examples.

Archer also points out that Toronto is a leader in “adaptive resuse”, that is, converting buildings from their original purpose or function into something that is more useful to contemporary society. Essentially, the constraints of municipal regulations and red tape are forcing architects to be creative. There may not be an star architectural attractions recently in Toronto, but on a different level architects and planners are still being responsive to market demands for artistry.

And this bodes well for the future of commercial real estate over the next ten years in Toronto.

- Charles Edwards frequently blogs on Canadian REIT topics

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Vancouver commercial real estate: strong resource sector drives down vacancies

August 2, 2011

The world’s largest real estate services firm CB Richard Ellis reports that the strength of British Columbia’s resource sector is the driver pushing Metro Vancouver’s office vacancy rates back down. CBRE tracked buildings with 22 million square feet of space, and found a vacancy rate of 4.3 per cent at the end of June versus 5.6 […]

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REITs as an inflation hedge

July 29, 2011

REITs may be a good way to hedge against inflation, according to Brad Case, VP of Research and Industry Information at NAREIT. In this audio clip, Case talks about a recent NAREIT study looking into using REITs as an inflation hedge, and discusses REIT Benchmarks and study results that indicate when REITs can effective as an inflation hedge […]

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Florida REITs leading US commercial real estate rebound?

July 27, 2011

Industrial REITs are buying land in Florida again. Denver-based DCT Pan American has purchased a 14.7-acre vacant site in Doral (located in Miami-Dade County) for a 65 percent discount off of the distressed property’s mortgage. The site was purchased for $14 million in 2008 but acquired by DCT for $3.13 million. EverBank had foreclosed on the […]

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Commercial real estate outlook improving

July 26, 2011

Moody’s reports that the commercial real estate market is improving in the United States during the first quarter of FY2011, with apartment units showing the most improvement. Commercial real estate generally is divided into five main categories: Office, industrial, retail, hospitality and apartments, sometimes referred to as the multifamily sector. Moody’s ranks markets’ health on a scale […]

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U.S. Commercial Property Prices Increased 6.3% in May, Moody’s Says

July 21, 2011

The Moody’s/REAL Commercial Property Price Index rose 6.3 percent from April, the largest gain since the measure began in 2000. U.S. commercial property prices increased in May for the first time in six months as a rebound in distressed real estate helped boost values, according to Moody’s Investors Service. “A number of transactions that were […]

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Prospect of new development once again circulating in Downtown Toronto

July 18, 2011

According to Avison Young, the prospect of new development once again circulating in Downtown Toronto. Activity in the midtown and downtown markets is robust with demand from a wide spectrum of user groups seeking varying space requirements. This has led to the anticipation of new office development once again in DowntownToronto: Compared to the suburbs, the downtown […]

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Colliers Canada Retail Report (Spring 2011)

July 14, 2011

Colliers has published its Canada Retail Report for Spring 2011, which can be downloaded here (pdf). The report provides plenty of useful information. Small snippets of the report are provided (and often regurgitated) by many news outlets, but it’s always better to read the report in its entirety. The theme of the spring 2011 report is Canadian […]

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How to increase commercial real estate profitability: sell fresh food

July 11, 2011

Food will be a critical part of Target’s business model, according to top company brass  at the Honda Indy race in Toronto. Fresh food is big business for Canadian retailers. According to Colliers International: The grocery business in Canada is significant, worth $111.8 billion, or 38 percent of the $294.3 billion of non-automotive retail sales in […]

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