New Granville strip building includes Canada Passport Office and restaurants

Construction is now nearing completion on a sizeable 100% commercial space redevelopment in the Granville Entertainment District of downtown Vancouver.

A four-storey building is being built on the mid-block site of 950 Granville Street, which is wedged between Roxy’s Nightclub and 7-Eleven. The previous buildings on this development site were best known as the location of Republic Nightclub.

Although this is a low-rise development, it is significant for the entertainment district, with a street front spanning nearly half a city block between Smithe and Nelson Streets.

The building is designed by architectural firm Perkins&Will, and it is owned by local developer Bonnis Properties — at least for now.

In an interview with Daily Hive Urbanized last week, Kerry Bonnis, whose family owns and operates Bonnis Properties, says his company is looking to sell 950 Granville Street to free up capital for their multi-family residential projects elsewhere in the city.

“With respect to our 900 block property, that was the intention from the beginning was to redevelop it and sell it and redeploy,” said Bonnis.

Commercial real estate firms Marcus & Millichap and CBRE listed the yet-to-be-completed property for sale last week. It is expected to be completed in June 2024.

950 granville street vancouver april 4 2024

Construction progress on 950 Granville Street, Vancouver, as of April 4, 2024. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

It has now been revealed that the building has been substantially pre-leased.

About 17,000 sq ft of retail/restaurant space on the ground level, providing Granville Street with new activity and life, will be tenanted to KFC — the third major fried chicken chain to open on the Granville strip in recent years, following the nearby openings of Jollibee in 2022 and Popeyes Chicken in late 2023 — as well as Taco Bell, Rice and Noodle, Pizza Garden, and Parsley Berlin Style Doner-Kebab.

Two of the three office levels above the six retail/restaurant units are already pre-leased.

This includes the entirety of the second office level and a portion of the ground level leased to the Government of Canada for downtown Vancouver’s new Passport Office. This is anticipated to be the new replacement Passport Office location at least on a temporary years-long basis, as Sinclair Centre — where the Passport Office is currently located — is expected to undergo a major $500 million redevelopment later this decade. The new Sinclair Centre, featuring some heritage building retention, will see the addition of a significant federal government office tower that increases the complex’s floor area from the current 390,000 sq ft to about 1.1 million sq ft.

The new Passport Office at 950 Granville Street is expected to attract over 600 people daily, bringing new daytime foot traffic to the entrainment district.

Up above, the third office level is completely leased to Cornerstone International Education.

Currently, the fourth office level of about 15,000 sq ft remains unleased.

950 granville street vancouver april 4 2024

Construction progress on 950 Granville Street, Vancouver, as of April 4, 2024. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

The building’s ability to expand vertically also adds potential value. The building is engineered for two additional partial floors in the future, which would increase its height from four to six storeys and add over 23,000 sq ft of office space.

During the project’s review process with the municipal government, Bonnis Properties proposed building the six-storey design from the get-go, but City staff opposed this, as it was non-compliant with the City’s existing density and height policies for the site on the entertainment district.

However, this two-storey vertical expansion will likely be permitted in the future under the City’s Granville Street Planning Program, which is intended to be an 18-month planning process to create an area plan outlining how the Granville Entertainment District will be revitalized through new development and public space opportunities. The new area plan for the Granville strip is expected to be finalized by Vancouver City Council before the end of 2024.

Moreover, the second office level — the level that will become the new Passport Office — is designed to be convertible to be a second full level of retail.

Current four-storey concept under construction:

900-950 granville street vancouver

Artistic rendering of the 4-storey concept for 900-950 Granville Street, Vancouver. (B&TB/Perkins&Will/Bonnis Properties)

Future potential six-storey concept, with the vertical expansion of two additional floors:

900-950 granville street vancouver

Artistic rendering of the 6-storey concept (2 additional floors) for 900-950 Granville Street, Vancouver. (B&TB/Perkins&Will/Bonnis Properties)

To the north, Bonnis Properties owns 800 Granville — almost the entire block at the southeast corner of the intersection of Robson and Granville Streets, including the Commodore Building. They had plans for a substantial mixed-use commercial-only development with office space as the primary use, as well as major retail/restaurant and entertainment spaces. However, Bonnis told Daily Hive Urbanized they are now going back to the drawing board on 800 Granville Street’s rezoning application’s design, as significant office uses are no longer feasible in the current economic conditions. A revised design could potentially incorporate residential and/or hotel uses as a new primary use, replacing at least much of the office component.

Just across the street from 800 Granville within the former site of Empire Granville 7 theatre at 850 Granville Street, Cineplex is expected to open its long-awaited The Rec Room entertainment centre in the Granville Entertainment District sometime later in 2024. This will be Metro Vancouver’s second The Rec Room location, with 45,000 sq ft of dining, arcade gaming, and other entertainment experiences spanning three levels.

As part of its strategy to free up capital for other multi-family residential projects, Bonnis is also looking to sell the Winners/Best Buy retail building at 798 Granville Street, and the Moore’s Clothing store building at 524-526 Granville Street, where Bonnis received rezoning approval in 2020 to build a narrow 24-storey office tower.