Commercial properties take novel approaches to catalyzing business growth

It is no secret that real estate development is the single greatest catalyst for business growth, and a couple of Vancouver-area projects are taking it a step further by offering their locales novel services.

Vancouver’s Railtown district has not seen a new commercial building constructed in around 50 years, but Rendition Developments has entered the area with Bench, a 35,050 square foot, six-storey concrete building that will have a shuttle bus to Waterfront Station on the SkyTrain.

According to Brian Roche, Rendition’s president, the local neighbourhood is a mix of tech and gaming companies, architects, interior designers, furniture manufacturers, as well as a slew of other eccentrics and international companies. However, it has neither quick downtown access nor adequate parking.

“I think the shuttle service will be very popular,” said Roche. “The reason the shuttle was even contemplated is parking has always been a premium because most of the buildings are very old and sites have been very small, so they’re not conducive to underground parking.”

Railtown is an enclave of sorts just east of Gastown and close to the waterfront. Roche expects more development to continue building upon what Rendition started with Bench.

“We were the first ones in,” he said. “I bought the first land when the rezoning was talked about, and since we came in there have been half a dozen other developers who started coming in when they saw the potential in the area.”

In Port Moody, a Vancouver suburb of roughly 35,000, industry has been scarce. Most residents work in either Vancouver or Burnaby, but Panatch Group is trying to change that by working with the municipal government.

At 50 Electronic Avenue, a mixed-use development with two condo towers, the Port Moody Hub portion of the project will offer over 2,500 square feet of commercial space that the City of Port Moody will lease for 10 years—for nominal rent.

“We’re entering into an agreement with the city to give it to them for $1 a year for 10 years,” said Kush Panatch, founder and president of Panatch Group. “They will pay a little bit to help with the operating cost as any other tenant would in the building, but they’ll use it as a catalyst for one of two things: Pop-up art shops to provide local artists a platform to elevate the business side of their endeavour so that they get more exposure and sell their work, or to give them a shop or place for a limited period of time, like three or six months, and hopefully they carry on from there onto bigger and greater things.”

There will also be space allocated for what Panatch hopes are tech entrepreneurs who can use the Port Moody Hub as a springboard, but with the eventual intention of remaining in town and helping develop its economy.

“Hopefully they come in and use this space at little to no rent for six months to a year to build up their organization,” said Panatch, “and hopefully at the end of the transition they can move into another place in Port Moody and create more employment.”

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