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January 13, 2015

Drones and Virtual Reality Are About to Make Real Estate Much Cooler

Can drones be used to sell property? Tech geek (and Colliers' local marketing director) Hari Minhas wants to prove they can. After that, he's going to showcase sites via virtual reality—something never done before in Canada.

Drone video is “perfect for capturing large industrial sites as well as larger development sites,” Hari tells us. Colliers is partnering with Vividus, a special effects firm, to deliver the tech. They just finished a drone vid of a 6.5-acre site at 2420 Dollarton Hwy in North Vancouver, home to a private school and boarding facility. And in what Hari (snapped sawing lumber with old-school tech for Homes of Hope last year in Tijuana) believes is a Canada-first, they flew a drone inside Grosvenor America's Millennium VI, a distribution centre (below) at 1005 Derwent Way in Delta.

The next big step: virtual reality. Wearable VR technology (as seen below) could enable tenants to walk through the space plan of a project that's still in pre-construction, allowing them to ensure there's the right distance between workspaces, for example, or that the ceilings are high enough. “You have the ability to get a sense of space for something that you physically cannot walk through,” he says. “So you don't have to guess or imagine anymore.”

Widespread adoption of drone videos is inevitable, Hari reckons. The technology is improving, costs are decreasing, and you can operate a drone on your own (something you likely can't do with a helicopter). As for VR, “I haven't seen anybody implement it in the Canadian market, nor have I seen anybody dabbling in it.” 

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World's Tallest Building Designer Takes On Waterfront

Cadillac Fairview is moving ahead on Waterfront Tower. A development application was submitted last week for a 26-storey office building at 555 West Cordova St. We just finished reading All My Puny Sorrows, so we picked up the application instead and learned it describes the proposed building as “prismatic,” and it's aimed at better connecting the city and waterfront. The site's currently a parking lot between two heritage buildings: Waterfront Station and The Landing, a 1905 warehouse. The tower is the creation of B+H Architects with international firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill, designers of Saudi Arabia's Kingdom Tower, the world's tallest building when completed in 2019. (It may be the universe's tallest, but we don't have the budget to check.)

The origami-inspired Waterfront Tower will be sculpted to maintain distance from the Waterfront Station building, and, with its tapered base, to allow for the future Cordova Street connector, as envisioned in the city's plan for the Central Waterfront Hub. There will also be publicly accessible space on three sides of the tower—including a landscaped plaza with seating and water features—and the building will be set back from Cordova to allow views to the adjacent heritage buildings and create a more generous approach to the new tower's entrance. 

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Why DTZ and Cassidy Turley are a Good Match

Cassidy Turley and DTZ are fusing to form a global-top three firm ($2.9B in annual revenue). The marriage promises good things for DTZ's local operation, and its 18 other offices across Canada, improving north-south business, DTZ Vancouver Real Estate partner Steve Caldwell tells Bisnow. The merger was announced last week following the closing of the acquisition of Cassidy Turley by a private equity investment consortium backed by TPG Capital, PAG Asia Capital and Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan. The same consortium acquired DTZ in November.

“The Cassidy Turley group is in all the major US markets—the NFL cities so to speak,” Steve says. “It's going to be much better for us, because previously under the DTZ banner we didn't have enough presence in the States.” The merged companies will operate as DTZ, with Tod Lickerman (pictured third from left with DTZ's exec team in April) remaining global CEO. The unified company has more than 28,000 employees managing 3.3B SF globally for institutional, government, corporate and private clients. DTZ is ranked No. 1 in China for investment sales transactions, with over 50% market share.

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