Art school at centre of redrawn Vancouver neighbourhood

The Globe and Mail – November 30, 2015

[With] Emily Carr’s move in 2017 from Granville Island to a new campus a few kilometres away in the False Creek Flats neighbourhood, lying just south by southeast of the downtown, a short walk from the Olympic Village, the art university is being proclaimed a catalyst for a commercial real estate development boom.

“It’s going to be a catalyst for further development, not only on this site, but I believe in and around the area,” said Anita Molaro, assistant director of planning for the City of Vancouver.

More than just a new campus for the small arts university, which has a little fewer than 2,000 full-time students and another 2,000 or so part-timers and continuing education students, the new building has from conception been seen as a magnet for other new development aimed at the creative and tech industries – industries that have been underserved by commercial real estate, some argue.

One of the latest announcements is a set of three buildings adjacent to the university, with retail and office space, by local developer PCI Developments Corp.

“We see great change coming to this area,” said PCI president Andrew Grant. “So, Emily Carr is certainly a catalyst.” (That word again.) The larger of PCI’s three buildings, immediately opposite the entrance of Emily Carr, is expected to be completed at the same time as the art university.

“Our office market in Vancouver runs the gamut. So, as much as there are a number of opportunities for tenants downtown, this is really a very different space. And it’s more gathering together like-minded businesses,” Mr. Grant said.

Many of those will be tech and gaming companies, some of which already occupy an old, renovated Finning industrial building. More are expected to relocate from Gastown, which has a degree of historic chicness and relatively cheap space, but the offices tend to be cramped.

“So there’s an inability for organizations in the animation and visual-effects space to get better quality, larger-scale space, and to scale up. So we’re seeing more interest from those sorts of organizations here, partly as a result of their traditional location in Gastown just not working for them like it used to,” said Matthew Carter, president of the Great Northern Way Trust.

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