Telus Corp. has struck a deal to sell its office tower in downtown Vancouver, just three years after opening the doors to its glassy new headquarters with a koi fish pond in the lobby and vegetation throughout.
Calling it a “favourable real estate opportunity,” Telus said it will realize $170-million from the sale of its share of the office building that, along with a condo tower, forms Telus Garden.
The telecom company, which jointly owns the approximately 500,000-square-foot office property with real estate developer Westbank Corp., did not disclose the name of the buyer or the total sale price. Westbank refused to comment.
“[Westbank was] looking forward to an opportunity to monetize. For us it was more a ‘nice to have,’” Telus chief financial officer Doug French said in an interview. The sale, which Telus disclosed on Friday, is expected to close “in the next week or two,” he said.
Telus Garden covers an entire block in Vancouver, with one side dedicated to offices and the Telus headquarters. On the other side is a condo tower, where Telus chief executive Darren Entwistle lives with his wife, Fiona. The Entwistles own two penthouses that were valued at a combined $7.6-million earlier this year, according to BC Assessment.
The sale of the office building is taking place during a commercial property boom in Vancouver. Demand for office space is robust with tech companies expanding and setting up shop in the city. Vancouver office vacancy rates are the second lowest in Canada and the United States, according to commercial realtor CBRE.
The seemingly insatiable demand for office space has spurred development in the city. According to commercial realtor Cresa, 12 office towers are being built in Vancouver that will add 3.3-million square feet of office space by 2022.
Telus will continue to use Telus Garden for its headquarters and lease space from the new owners. Other tenants include e-commerce giant Amazon. On the 24th floor event space of the office tower, dozens of colourful, blown-glass orbs dangle from ribbons above the wood spiral staircase. A view of Vancouver stretches out and off to the side is a large gas fireplace.
The property was assessed at about $425-million a year ago. Today’s value is likely closer to $500-million, according to Cresa.
The Telus Garden office may not be the only sale for Telus. The telecom company owns real estate across the country and said it would consider selling other properties.
“We’ll definitely continue to look at future real estate opportunities,” Mr. French said. “We do have land throughout Canada that could be monetized at some point and we’ll look at all of that in due course,” he said.
Telus is the latest property owner to cash in on Canada’s hot commercial real estate market. Chinese insurer Anbang snapped up office towers in Vancouver and Toronto, and Hudson’s Bay Co. has been in talks to sell its Vancouver department store.
With a file from Rick Cash.