Hudson's Bay store downtown to become a 12-storey tech-sector office tower

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      A redevelopment plan for downtown Vancouver's Hudson's Bay building would see a 12-storey office tower rise within its preserved shell.

      The plan, detailed in a February 23 release from Streetworks Development—HBC Properties and Investments' real-estate development branch—envisions tech-sector tenants in the new building's one million square feet of office space.

      As many as 5,000 workers could be accommodated in the new tower, which is planned to sit atop a reimagined retail space and a new "Green Mobility" transportation hub at the corner of Granville and Georgia streets, a location generally considered to be the centre of the city's downtown core.

      The project's floorplates of about 61,000 square feet are designed to appeal to the tech sector.

      The development calls for the building's distinctive terra cotta exterior walls to be preserved "in respect of the importance the Bay Building has held in the history and development of downtown Vancouver", the release noted.

      The Hudson's Bay retail store will remain in the mixed-use redevlopment. A rooftop garden and interior multilevel atriums for the new tenants are part of the vision for the almost century-old building, along with improved access to existing bus routes, TransLink's Granville SkyTrain Station, and the adjacent Canada Line Vancouver-City Centre Station.

      Covered pedestrian walkways to nearby shopping areas are part of the plan, as is an underground "bike hub" with the capability of holding as many as 1,500 bicycles.

      The Bay Building as it is today.
      Wikimedia Commons/Arnold C

      “Transformation of the iconic property meets evolving consumer and office user expectations," Ian Putnam, HBC Properties and Investments president and CEO, said in the release. "This highly attractive site located at the nexus of Vancouver’s major transit, bike and traffic routes in the heart of downtown Vancouver will be revitalized and expanded with resilient and forward-thinking amenities that will drive value creation for the long-term.”

      A rezoning application and a heritage revitalization agreement (the Bay Building at 647 Granville Street is listed in the Vancouver Heritage Register) will be submitted to the city within a few weeks, the release said.

      If the rezoning and heritage plans are approved, development and building permit applications will be submitted in advance of construction commencing.

      The redevelopment of the site, to be completed with HBC partner RioCan Real Estate Trust, could start by 2024, the release noted.

      Photo-illustration of the Bay Building proposal.
      Streetworks Development

      “The way consumers live, work and shop is changing rapidly and HBC is committed to evolving to reflect these shifts, while unleashing the full value of our prime properties and reinvigorating the urban districts in which they are situated,” Putnam said in the bulletin. “HBCPI is excited and looking forward to unlocking the value and full potential of our flagship Vancouver building, and our entire joint venture portfolio with RioCan."

      Doug Adams, Streetworks' senior vice president of development, said the redevelopment is part of a larger vision for the company's holdings. “Redeveloping the Bay Building is another step toward our goal of maximizing the value of HBC’s portfolio of downtown properties throughout North America, while diversifying our holdings to a mix of retail, residential, and office space," Adams said in the release.

      "Upon completion, the retail space at Granville and Georgia will be reconfigured to create a new and exciting retail experience and allow additional retail businesses to locate at this key location along with Hudson’s Bay,” Adams added.