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How Transit Drives Suburban Office Development

Vancouver Office

Traffic sucks. Transit (usually) results in happier offices, and Metro Vancouver’s developers are getting hip to this. It’s why most new projects in the burbs are being built near rapid transit stations.


JLL’s Scott MacDonald, pictured right with EVP Mark Chambers, tells us 90% of office space currently in the Metro Vancouver development pipeline is within 500 metres of a rapid transit station. “If you’re going to build a pure office project,” Mark says, “any developer now wants to be on the SkyTrain line.” Richmond offers the most compelling evidence of the trend; office buildings there within 500 metres of a Canada Line station are 4.6% vacant while buildings 500 to 1,000 metres from the nearest station have more than five times as much vacancy, according to a just-released report from JLL.


Burnaby’s Metrotower, seen here, is one of the most significant transit-oriented developments recently completed in Metro Vancouver, and without substantial pre-lease commitments, Scott points out. It speaks to the confidence builders have in areas serviced by rapid transit. Mark notes that tenants will pay a premium for access to transit, knowing that it makes them more alluring when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. And the HR benefits — happier, more productive employees whose souls haven’t been crushed by traffic — can “substantially outweigh the swing in real estate costs.”