This weeks activity saw some additional tightening in inventory for Vancouver urban condos in the Downtown and waterfront areas. There were two new listings and seven new pending sales along with a closed sale. That is the biggest one week tightening I have seen this year!
Urban condos are a sub market in real estate that often is a non-correlating market. That is to say, this sub-market often acts independently from the real estate market as a whole. In major US cities like Seattle and Portland where there is both a local acceptance and a larger urban living market, it will correlate a little closer than in an ‘up and coming’ urban market like Vancouver.
I’m seeing trends in our urban market suggesting there could be a stronger than average demand for our urban units. The excitement for our region has intensified with the success of the waterfront expansion and that is certainly spilling over into the Columbia Shores, Tidewater, and Downtown neighborhoods. At this time there are no completed condo units on the new waterfront. The 12 story Kirkland Tower is under construction and will bring 40 high end luxury condo units on floors 2-11 to the waterfront. For now, only rental units are available and hundreds more units will come to market over the next 12-18 months.
Gramor Development is planning a 14 story 80 unit condominium project on Block 16. I would imagine we will hear more about that project after units start selling in Kirkland. The success of Kirkland will likely play a role in the pricing level and size of condos that will go into the project on Block 16.
Vancouver has a smaller proportion of condo units relative to rental units in the urban core than say Portland’s Pearl District and South Waterfront neighborhoods. This positive action in the local urban condo market, particularly in the high end units at Viewpoint, Meriwether, and Tidewater show that Vancouver is becoming a stronger urban destination for buyers as well as renters.
The most important thing Vancouver city officials can do is promote the Downtown area for more commercial office tenants that bring high paying professional jobs to the urban core. Architects, Lawyers, Doctors, Engineering Firms, and the like employ highly educated, well paid personnel in class A office settings. These professionals are often far better off in the Washington State tax environment than in Oregon. We are an easy sell and our inventory of commercial office space is fairly tight at the moment, so some extra positive market pressure will make some of the proposed office towers financially attractive to investors starting with Gramor’s Block 2 proposal on the waterfront. Gramor already has Colliers International real estate firm marketing space for lease and the building is still in the planning stages. This gives potential lessees an opportunity too secure space in a structure that is still at least 24 months away from occupancy, and make all the business planning and adjustments with ample time.
I see companies like Holland Partner Group located in Vancouver that do large scale high-rise projects in major cities like Los Angeles, Denver, Seattle, and Portland. How many Portland based architects, developers, and engineering firms could move to Vancouver, keep all their Portland clients and enjoy a better work-life balance, lower commercial rents, and much more favorable taxation? City leaders have to sell that, Portland companies often live inside the ‘Portland Bubble’ they won’t likely find us on their own. The more urban commercial and industrial jobs we create here, the less cars are on our two Columbia River bridges.
Let’s keep the good times rolling here in America’s Vancouver.