Shopping Centers Today

APR 2012

Shopping Centers Today is the news magazine of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

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ON THE GROUND: RICHMOND, B.C. A tight market is starved for chain restaurants, retail space Until about June of last year, Richmond, British Columbia, was Canada's hottest housing market. Between November 2010 and May 2011, the average price of a de- tached home in Richmond skyrocketed by some $200,000, to about $1.13 million. Most of the buyers were investors from mainland China. Richmond is the Van- couver suburb no one knows but everyone visits, as it is home to Vancouver Interna- tional Airport. Square is in the pro- cess of adding on an- other 100,000 square feet of mixed-use space, one of the few major retail develop- ments now under way in the city. But what looks to travelers like a bland, anywhere-in-North-America suburb is anything but. Over half of the population of 195,000 are ethnic Chinese, some 15 to 20 percent hail from other Asian countries, and the rest are Caucasian. To supply this population mix with consumer goods, Richmond has developed one of the most unusual retail markets on the continent. There are two enclosed "general" malls: the Richmond Centre — measuring 792,000 square feet — and the Lansdowne Centre — measuring 600,000 square feet. And there are three so-called Asian malls: Aber- deen Square (100,000 square feet), Parker Place (61,000 square feet) and Yaohan Centre (120,000 square feet). Aberdeen The only other big retail projects are The Gardens, a 90,000-square-foot neighborhood com- munity center; and Central at Garden City, a 360,000-square-foot center to be anchored by Richmond's first Walmart, according to Bal Atwal, an associate broker of investment properties at Avison Young, in Vancouver. Also coming into Cen- tral at Garden City, and similarly new to Rich- mond, are a Marshalls and a Bed Bath & Beyond. THE CANADA LINE, WITH 110,000 RIDERS A DAY, CONNECTS THE METRO VANCOUVER REGION. FOREVER 21 AND SEPHORA OPENED AT CADILLAC FAIRVIEW'S RICHMOND CENTRE IN 2011. Any new space would be welcome, be- cause Richmond offers precious little room for expansion in any direction except up. The vacancy rate in Richmond is probably in the 3 to 5 percent range, according to Craig Haziza, Vancouver-based vice presi- dent of Cushman & Wakefield's retail ser- vices group. Richmond can be considered to consist of three separate markets, he says: a downtown (with a few office towers whose height is restricted to 45 meters [148 feet] because of the nearby airport plus the two regional malls), an Asian market, and the traditional suburban retail centers. To contend with expected population growth, the city is encouraging the future 52 SCT / APRIL 2012 development of condo and office buildings above ground-floor retail space. "That," said Atwal, "will inject a significant amount of needed space into the market." Mean- while, demand for commercial real estate has gotten as speculative as the housing market. "Land on Number 3 Road is priced at $275 to $300 a square foot, whereas five years ago it was probably $175 a square foot," said Atwal, referring to one of the city's main arteries. As well known as Richmond has become for its Asian restaurants, the city is starved for chain restaurants, mostly because of rental rates and land costs. "For fast food," said Haziza, "you can't get a half-acre site that makes sense." — Steve Bergsman

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