Vancouver’s Innovation District, located in the area connecting the False Creek Flats and Mount Pleasant, is undergoing a significant transformation that is reshaping the city’s life science and tech industry.
A recent report by global commercial real estate advisor Avison Young delves into the development and potential of the district, highlighting the expected delivery of over 1.7 million square feet of office space in the next three years alone.
With a focus on providing technology and life science-ready office space, the neighbourhood is becoming an attractive environment for non-traditional office tenants.
The rise of the Innovation District
The origins of the Innovation District’s development can be traced back to the upcoming St. Paul’s Hospital and health campus project in False Creek Flats.
Scheduled for delivery in 2027, this 1.7-million-square-foot development has sparked interest from medical technology companies and educational institutions looking to be in close proximity to the hospital and its associated research center, the Clinical Support and Research Centre. However, some developers, like Lululemon founder Chip Wilson’s Low Tide Properties, had already foreseen the growth potential in the area.
Developments and opportunities
The report highlights that the developments in the Innovation District, particularly on underutilized industrial land, will bring much-needed investment to the area and act as a catalyst for new market activity. This expansion will help extend Downtown Vancouver beyond the peninsula, solidifying False Creek Flats and Mount Pleasant as key considerations for occupiers seeking centrally located spaces.
The influence of the Broadway Plan and developer opportunities
The confirmation of the Broadway Plan in 2022 has provided developers and investors with a clearer direction for the area, allowing them to act with greater confidence. Avison Young’s report reveals that across the 11 developments expected to be completed, there are 15 different developers involved, including significant co-developers.
The vision for the future
Low Tide Properties, one of the prominent developers within the Innovation District, envisions the creation of a vibrant and world-class neighbourhood in the False Creek Flats. Adam Mitchell, VP of Asset Management and Development at Low Tide Properties emphasizes the importance of community-building and purpose-driven spaces that cater to creators, innovators, and makers.
The goal is to establish a “live, work, play” area that goes beyond the conventional concept by providing purposeful spaces and amenities such as residential rental buildings, community-focused retail, and supportive services like daycare.
While the new St. Paul’s Hospital was not the initial factor that drove Low Tide Properties’ investment in the area, it has become a crucial anchor for the False Creek Flats. The announcement of the hospital’s development reinforced the area’s position as an expansion of the city beyond the downtown peninsula.
The presence of existing institutional anchors like the Centre for Digital Media, Emily Carr University, and Vancouver Community College, combined with the anticipated Broadway Line extension, formed the basis of Low Tide Properties’ investment decision.
Fundamentals driving growth in the Innovation District
Avison Young’s report highlights several key factors that contribute to the neighbourhood’s potential as a new market activity hub. The area’s accessibility and connectivity through various modes of transportation, including rapid transit and bike lanes, are significant drivers. Additionally, the proximity to existing post-secondary institutions provides a talent pool and positions the district as an attractive destination for employees in the creative and technology sectors.