Skip to content

Mixed-use developments diversify as demands increase

Developers target a broader mix of users, financial viability
A Marine landing RENWB_02_Front_Low (2)
Marine Landing in South Vancouver mixes industrial and office uses in a growing trend of combining a greater range of uses in urban projects.

A hybrid development environment is gaining ground as a hybrid work environment continues to reshape how job space fits into urban environments large and small.

New industrial zoning within the City of Vancouver took effect in February that sets the stage for new forms of mixed-use buildings.

The updated I-2 rules will allow a greater range of office uses in industrial-office projects, adding businesses like medical, dental, legal, accounting, real estate, insurance and other types of typical office work.

It paves the way for vibrant, stacked urban communities that blend more office users with industry and services in transit-oriented nodes of production and commerce,” said Dan Jordan, a senior vice-president with Colliers Canada in Vancouver.

Jordan works with projects such as Marine Landing, billed as one of the Canada’s largest stacked, mixed-use strata industrial projects with 340,000 square feet across 242 light industrial and office units. The lower four levels of the project’s two six-storey buildings host light industrial uses while the top two levels host office space.

The recent zoning change adds 120,000 square feet of office space to the project. This creates opportunities for about 80 businesses that Jordan said were shut out of the original design.

“The changes have already prompted several sales including to a chiropractic clinic, physiotherapy clinic, law firm, and several other office users,” he said.
The additional space facilitated by the zoning change also adds to the project’s financial viability for developer Wesbild Holdings and its partner KingSett Capital.

The combination of industrial and office uses in a major mixed-use development is relatively new but it’s helping address the need for diversity in local economies and communities.

Since the pandemic, last-mile distribution space has been a key issue. By combining light industrial and office uses in urban projects near residential, developers are finding ways to create space for manufacturing and distribution in a way that meets local needs in neighbourhoods where traditional large-format industrial users are largely priced out.

While some industrial zones have allowed for retail sales from craft breweries and other food manufacturers, a growing number of mixed-use projects are allowing for industrial space adjacent to consumers.

A case in point is Reliance Properties Ltd.’s vision for the Capital Iron lands in Victoria, a 6.7-acre site eyed for industrial, institutional and residential space, including rental units.

“The Capital Iron lands are underutilized with few job spaces, no homes, and an inactive waterway,” said Jon Stovell, CEO of Reliance.

The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria will occupy space Reliance plans to contribute as a public amenity, while Victoria-based Finest at Sea Ocean Products Ltd. will be among the industrial occupants.

The move will add a traditional industrial use to the city’s working waterfront, and a potential on-site retail outlet could make the company’s products available to neighbourhood residents.

“We envision a move that helps revitalize the local fishing industry, including collaborating with First Nations groups, as our proposed water lot falls on traditional territory,” said Bob Fraumeni, owner of Finest at Sea, said in a statement regarding the move.

The project’s diversity builds on others Reliance has undertaken, such as Burrard Place in Vancouver, with its mix of residential and commercial uses, including strata office with access to building amenities. In Victoria, it has undertaken a number of heritage projects and most recently won rezoning of the Northern Junk site for a mix of commercial and residential space incorporating heritage industrial elements.

“Capital Iron Lands represents Reliance's most significant and diverse urban revival project,” Stovell said. “We are taking further all the financial, social, and cultural benefits of mixed-use developments by integrating land and marine use, corporate with creative use, and the obvious, residential with retail. The potential for financial viability and neighbour vibrancy is beyond any of our previous developments.”