The move of Sony Pictures Imageworks to a 74,000-square-foot space in Pacific Centre in 2015 is part of a trend of large technology companies shifting to a pocket of new development in the downtown core.
The result, according to people involved in the Sony deal, is a fast-developing world-class hub for visual effects and technology.
Imageworks lannounced in May it would move its head office from Culver City, Calif., to a space under renovation in the former Sears building in downtown Vancouver. Its current Vancouver office would also move into the new space.
While most technology companies are not interested in the typical office spaces in Vancouver’s downtown financial core, the renovation of the Sears building and development of other spaces, such as at Telus Garden, are offering a new type of space that is attractive to tech tenants, says Marco DiPaolo, a senior vice-president at Colliers International.
“Telus, Amazon, Sony, Microsoft and couple of other large technology tenants are all going into that same little pocket (downtown) within two or three blocks of each other,” said DiPaolo, who helped broker the deal between landlord Cadillac Fairview and Imageworks, which recently finished work on films such as The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Edge of Tomorrow.
“The building really presented a unique opportunity, and what made it special was floor-plate sizes that are 75,000-square-feet with 18-foot ceiling heights,” DiPaolo said.
“It’s really in a fabulous location when you talk about access to amenities and transit, being right on top of Pacific Centre, access directly into that mall and all the connected amenities through that,” he said.
Imageworks currently employs about 150 workers in 32,000 square feet of space in Yaletown
The new space at Pacific Centre will accommodate up to 700 employees, with the Vancouver operations still led by Jason Dowdeswell.
“We expect to be at 80-per-cent capacity by the time we occupy the new space,” said Randy Lake, executive VP and general manager, digital production services at Sony Pictures Digital Productions.
“One of the major reasons we decided to move into a new state-of-the-art facility is to consolidate our production teams and artists under one roof,” he said in an email. “The fifth floor of the Pacific Centre is ideal, as it can accommodate up to 700 employees, which will be the largest footprint for a visual effects company in Vancouver.”
He said the company wanted a space in the heart of the city, within walking distance to restaurants, shopping and rapid transit lines. “We hope being near these conveniences, in addition to our healthy and diverse film slate, will be attractive to both current and future employees,” he said.
DiPaolo said Imageworks’ new space would be custom built. “The design element of it has begun, but none of those decisions have been made yet.”
He said Vancouver’s tech industry environment is changing given the city’s talented workforce of artists, designers and programmers.
Microsoft announced plans recently to add 400 additional staff members in Vancouver to its workforce of 350. That announcement followed online retailer Amazon’s move in 2013 to post nearly 100 jobs for its Vancouver operation.
Gener8, a company that converts traditional film to 3D, also said in 2013 said it would be adding 80 workers to its B.C. workforce of 150.
Article from the vancouver sun.