Commercial real estate: Burnaby high-tech hub takes shape at Eastlake

Vancouver Sun

EVAN DUGGEN – Published on: May 31, 2016

Metro Vancouver — Stakeholders in the latest phase of a massive high-tech business hub are claiming that the Silicon Valley-inspired Eastlake Campus in Burnaby should help propel the city further toward its vision of becoming a leading technology hub.

The Eastlake Campus — located north of the Lougheed Highway near Production Way Station on the Millennium Line — is expanding and will soon comprise six multi-tenant buildings, totalling about 310,000 square feet. It’s being co-developed by Adera Development Corporation and Sun Life Investment Management, with the latest round of development unveiled during a May 25 announcement at the site.

Scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2017, the six low-rise buildings will house dozens of companies of various sizes and roughly 600-700 workers, said Eric Andreasen, Adera’s vice-president of sales and marketing.

Several flex-space office and industrial bays starting at 2,000 sq. ft. are in various stages of leasing. A small number of larger tenants are being sought for freestanding build-to-suit options that range from 40,000 to 100,000 sq. ft.

The property is zoned to permit warehousing, distribution, assembly, laboratory and head offices. A number of companies, including BlackBerry, Toshiba, Sugoi, Raceface and Canadian medical imaging equipment maker Novadaq Technologies have already moved in or signed leases at the campus.

The smaller units can operate as retail and office combinations, “so you’ve got a space to sell your wares, you’ve got a place to manufacture, and you’ve got a place to run and administrate the whole operation,” Andreasen told The Vancouver Sun at the unveiling.

“It was one of the last big tracts of land that was left available for this type of product,” he said, noting that 85 per cent of Phase 1 is already leased as they seek tenants for the two buildings in Phase 2. Andreasen said the campus would house several start-ups and family companies as well as larger tech firms such as BlackBerry and Novadaq.

The campus is a “six- or seven-minute walk” from Production Way SkyTrain station and the site also has two end-of-trip cycling facilities, he said. “We have three major cycling companies … in the first phase,” he said, adding that the campus is also located near major cycling routes.

The pair of buildings comprising Phase 2 are set to be completed by the end of this summer, while two more buildings in Phase 3 are expected to wrap up by fall of 2017, said Roger Leggatt, a vice-president of leasing at Cushman & Wakefield.

“We can accommodate tenants from 1,600 square feet all the way up to 15,000 square feet,” he said, referring to the second-phase buildings. “It’s designed specifically to meet the needs of the smaller tenants. We’ve had success already with the lease of BlackBerry.”

Eight months ago, Novadaq settled into a 36,000-sq. ft. end-unit in Phase 2. Novadaq is a Canadian company that specializes in designing and making medical imaging equipment.

“Our company is based out of Toronto, but Novadaq West, as we call this facility, is responsible for everything to do with actually creating and delivering our products,” said Arthur Bailey, the company’s vice-president of engineering and manufacturing, at the announcement. “Here we have engineering and manufacturing and it’s supported by our regulatory and quality teams,” he said.

Their branch was originally based in Richmond, Bailey said. “We had 17,000 square feet there and we really outgrew it,” he told the crowd. “We were so tight in that space, we were down to one meeting room and it was nearly impossible to function.”

They started looking for a new, larger space two years ago. “It’s really difficult to find space that suits us because we have to find a space that has a combination of both manufacturing, high-bay space and office space,” he said.

He said they liked the flexibility of their new Eastlake location. “We thought this would be great if we could make it work because it’s got so much window space, it would just change the lives of our employees because they’re going to have a lot of bright space and it would be a great place to work.”

He said roughly 10 per cent of their staff ride their bikes to the campus. “The access to the SkyTrain is great,” he said. “We have a significant increase in the amount of people who are taking transit. It also has good access to bike routes.”

In 1952, the City of Burnaby opened the larger Lake City industrial area in which Eastlake Campus now sits for heavy industry, Burnaby Coun. Pietro Calendino said at the unveiling.

“As time went by in the ’80s and ’90s, the workplace sort of changed in North America and in Burnaby as well,” he said, noting that high-tech, green development like Eastlake fits well with Burnaby’s economic and environmental strategy.

“With tenants like you have here, that’s what Burnaby envisioned with its new strategy for Lake City,” he said. “I think what we want to do and was a new plan developed in 1998 and that was to convert the heavy industry into more high-tech, knowledge-based industry like we see here in these buildings.”