Ten on the 10th | Published March 12, 2021
Citified’s Ten on the 10th is a monthly question-and-answer segment connecting our readers with the insight and knowledge of Victoria’s top real-estate and business professionals.
March’s Ten on the 10th features Brent Sawchyn, Principal and CEO of PC Urban Properties.
Asking the questions is Ross Marshall, Senior Vice President of the Victoria offices of commercial real-estate brokerage CBRE. As a leader in facilitating large-scale commercial real-estate transactions throughout the Capital Region – which include apartment complexes, industrial retail and office properties, and land/development opportunities – Ross and his team are at the forefront of market-leading real-estate transactions on Vancouver Island.
Can you tell us about PC Urban, where you’re based and what you specialize in?
PC Urban is a Vancouver-based real estate development and investment company specializing in re-imagining properties that have unrealized potential. We have grown significantly in the decade since our inception and have broadened our horizons across a variety of industries. Having doubled in size since 2018, and branching beyond a specialization in shopping centre redevelopment, we are now working on projects from industrial strata to multi-family residential to class-A office across the Lower Mainland and beyond. With a pipeline of another 2.1M square feet in the next four years, we’re excited for what the future will hold. We have been particularly successful with our “IntraUrban” industrial strata brand and we are now on our 11th project and our first IntraUrban business park project on Vancouver Island will be in Colwood.
You have been active in Vancouver and Kelowna for years, what attracted you to the Victoria market?
The heat of the Vancouver market has created strong reactive growth on the island, which is seeing migration of many businesses and individuals alike. Five of the ten fastest growing cities in British Columbia are on the island, with 4 of those 5 in Greater Victoria. As a result, the vacancy rate among industrial space is effectively 0%, and is similarly constrained for rental apartments, making Victoria a very attractive market for both commercial and residential development.
What current projects do you have in the works in Victoria? And what’s next?
We are active in both industrial and residential markets on the island. In the Burnside-Gorge neighbourhood, we are developing a 6-storey purpose-built rental project at the corner of Gorge Road East and Irma Street with 153 residential units and complementary retail space. Over in Colwood, we have recently announced 136,000 square feet of commercial / industrial project across from the Juan de Fuca Rec Centre, which will include 36 industrial/flex-commercial/office units between 1,600 – 5,700 square feet. Beyond that, we are exploring both industrial and residential opportunities in the CRD, which we are looking forward to announcing in the coming months.
What is unique about IntraUrban Projects?
The IntraUrban brand was founded on a concept of delivering high-quality stratified industrial / commercial space in retail-like locations, providing ownership opportunities for small and medium sized businesses. Each IntraUrban project has a strong emphasis on architectural design. When businesses attract customers, one of the first elements these customers see is the business’ façade. By offering well designed, functional space, we believe utilizing space within an IntraUrban project will boost a purchaser’s business success from day one.
What will your IntraUrban Colwood development consist of?
IntraUrban Colwood will have 30 showcase commercial/industrial units and six office units across three buildings adjacent to the Island Highway. Industrial units will range from 2,800–5,700 square feet, and office units will range from 1,600–2,500 square feet. Typical to all IntraUrban projects, units can be combined together to suit a variety of business sizes.
We’ve seen industrial strata prices soar in the past decade; in fact they have nearly doubled. Why is now a good time to buy?
Owner occupiers can capitalize on historically low interest rates and build equity in their real estate versus paying their landlord’s mortgage. In fact, the monthly cost of owning versus leasing is virtually the same which is the motivating factor for most purchasers in our IntraUrban projects. Couple this with the long term control of your business space and you have the IntraUrban recipe for success.
Very compelling reason to own versus lease for sure! What about investors? We’ve had several investors contact us recently with a request for industrial product and many have registered already to receive information on the IntraUrban Colwood project. What is it that makes industrial real estate so attractive these days?
Industrial vacancy rates are at an all time low in Greater Victoria. This strong demand, with a lack of supply, keeps industrial real estate in high demand. Investors are very much interested in capitalizing on this supply/demand disparity and purchasing units to make available for lease. Our high profile location and flexible zoning at IntraUrban Colwood is exceptional for a wide range of tenants that may wish to continue leasing and invest their equity to grow their business versus invest in real estate. Investors also see the opportunity of the attractive return by making these strata units available for prospective tenants in a market with virtually no inventory!
What else may be worth mentioning to owner occupiers who are first time purchasers of commercial property?
It’s worth mentioning that when you own commercial property, there are certain tax advantages such as the ability to depreciate the asset and the ability to deduct the annual interest on your mortgage. It is worth highlighting again that real estate ownership grants you the opportunity to control your own destiny for the long term growth of your business. Plus, over time, ownership can be more affordable than leasing.
What about financing for first time purchasers?
Generally speaking, lenders consider owner occupiers a lower risk because they know the owner will be committed to the property both as the landlord and the tenant. This, combined with a company’s profits and cash flow, assures lenders that their risks are low and makes financing the units very appealing to a number of the financial institutions.
CBRE is excited to launch the marketing campaign in collaboration with PC Urban’s team and bring this exceptional product to market. When news of the project first hit the market in January, we received many inquiries from prospective purchasers and have a growing and lengthy list of buyers and investors awaiting further marketing materials. Can you provide an update on the anticipated launch date for the marketing materials?
We are thrilled to announce that we are on track to launch the campaign next week. For those that are not already registered on our exclusive reservation list, you can do so now by going to https://intraurban.ca/colwood.