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The land development and construction process in cities like Vancouver is complex, politically fraught, and often the subject of press attention. Always risky, time-consuming, and costly, it presents particular challenges for landowners whose professional backgrounds lie outside this realm. Colliers’ Strategy & Consulting Group assists landowners in navigating the development process and increasing value through rezoning and land intensification.

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“We have a strong track record of completed redevelopments, and that comes from a deep understanding of City Planning, market-responsive design, and institutional-quality financial analysis,” says Jaraad Marani, Vice President of Development Advisory with Colliers’ Strategy & Consulting Group in Vancouver. “Composed of financial analysts, architects, construction experts, land-use economists, and planners, our team is empowered to work on projects for clients with diverse and unique needs — and help them understand each step of the process.”

Marani’s Vancouver-based team, a division of a nationwide practice with offices in Calgary and Toronto, supports public and private sector clients so they can act as developers and achieve the financial rewards of development, all while maintaining full control of their land and profits.   Colliers delivers this service for a fee and does not seek equity in return. Marani’s team has completed more than one million sq. ft of projects in the Lower Mainland and the Okanagan, resulting in nearly $600 million in created value, and 1,200 housing units, with more than $1 billion of projects in the approvals pipeline.

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“We aim to ease the anxieties of landowners by working directly with them as an extension of their business. Landowners who lack development knowledge, capacity, and capability no longer need to sell all or part of their land to a developer. Now they can leverage Colliers’ resources and experience to enhance the value of their land for themselves,” says Marani.

Colliers’ Vancouver Development Advisory team, with its complement of 10 full-time professionals, invests significant effort to understand client objectives, risk tolerance, and investment and returns criteria. The team ideally becomes engaged in projects as soon as ideas about land intensification arise. Colliers can lead all – or specific parts of – the development process; projects usually begin with an initial feasibility study to help owners understand their options and the business plan for redevelopment.

The best demonstration of Colliers’ Development Advisory expertise and value in Vancouver is the work the team led, from start to finish, for the Vancouver Masonic Centre. The centre is regarded as a premier Masonic meeting space in Western Canada; its tenants, known as Masons, are members of Freemasonry, one of the world's oldest fraternal organizations. In 2014, Colliers was hired to manage the design, entitlement, and construction of the Vancouver Masonic Centre’s existing site on 7th Avenue at Granville Street. 

Working together, the Masons and Colliers conceived a plan to convert the commercial building to a state-of-the-art mixed-use project with retail, office and ceremonial space; banquet facilities; and an 18-storey, 150-unit residential tower. As part of the overall process, Colliers also arranged financing from BC Housing and CMHC to ensure a sustainable cashflow going forward. Construction of the project concluded in 2022. In addition to the residential units, the Masons now own 42,000 square feet of commercial space, including the new ceremonial space. 

This positive example of city-building is considered a huge success by the Masons, the City of Vancouver, and the community, as it provided much-needed new housing, employment, and local amenities.

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Colliers’ Development Advisory team also played a critical role in Vancouver’s Ashley Mar Housing Co-Operative redevelopment project, which commenced construction following the completion of rezoning activities in mid-2022. Acting as Owner’s Representative on this program, Colliers is playing a critical part in the conversion of 54 existing units into a three-tower community comprising 649 rental homes — the largest co-op redevelopment in Canadian history.

“We were able to reduce the risk associated with redevelopment by finding a development partner to unlock the value of their land in order to revitalize the co-op. Upon the completion of this program, Ashley Mar will more than double in size and subsequently accommodate many more families in this growing and vibrant co-op community,” says Marani.

The needs of landowners across the Lower Mainland will continue to change while land remains a valuable asset. Working with Colliers helps individual owners and businesses make informed decisions about their land, successfully pursue redevelopment implementation, and increase value from land assets.

Images: Ema Peter Photography, courtesy of SHAPE Architecture

This article was produced in partnership with STOREYS Custom Studio.

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