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More tall towers being proposed, approved and completed in Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey and Coquitlam



There are 20 development projects with towers over 45 storeys that are selling condo units, under construction or near completion.

Developers are seeking approval for two 50-storey towers in the same block where Surrey city council recently gave the greenlight for what will be its tallest building at 67 storeys.

And there are several proposals for more tall towers like this in Surrey that haven’t been made public yet.

“There are ones of similar heights that are moving forward,” said Chris Dikeakos of Vancouver-based Chris Dikeakos Architects Inc. “And it’s not just in Surrey. Burnaby is another municipality. Coquitlam is starting to get applications for some much taller towers.”


He added that with increased land and construction costs, developers are motivated to use all the density they can get and build taller towers. However, there is also a point where it stops making sense to push higher “because things like the cost of structural systems increase as you go higher.”

Across Metro Vancouver, there are more than 20 towers over 45 storeys that have been approved by municipal governments, according to data from Zonda Urban market analyst Justin Lee. More than half of these are in Burnaby. Five are in Coquitlam and Port Moody, while Downtown Vancouver, New Westminster and Surrey have one each.

Some are under construction, like the first phase of Onni Development’s Gilmore Place in Burnaby with its 64-storey towers. Others are closer to completion like Westbank’s The Butterfly at 57 storeys in the West End.

After these, there are 40 more tall-tower projects that have been publicly presented to city councils and are in some stage of seeking approval. Most are in Burnaby and Surrey, followed by Downtown Vancouver and Coquitlam.

“We’ll see if economic conditions allow for them to be built,” said Dikeakos, whose firm is working on the new tall tower approved in Surrey and other projects.

In late 2019, Pinnacle International Development made a proposal for a site near the Lougheed SkyTrain Station. It had three towers including one that would be 80 storeys and 250 metres tall. They would be the tallest buildings in Western Canada. Some more details were presented to Burnaby city council in May 2022 for towers of 80, 76 and 73 storeys, but the project has not progressed further with the city.

Bosa Properties initially proposed a project with two 70-storey towers on Kingsway near the Metrotown SkyTrain Station, but there haven’t been any further details since it was initially presented to Burnaby council in 2021. In December 2022, Bosa sold the site to Keltic Canada Development for more than $100 million.

Metro King by Anthem Properties is a proposal for a 66-storey tower between Kingsway and Hazel streets across from Metrotown that is nearing a final decision by the City of Burnaby.

This pipeline of potential projects is happening as cities have focused on adding density to sites near transit stations and town centres, according to Dikeakos.

“The taller buildings in these types of developments that you are going to be seeing tend to be real, mixed-use ones, meaning they have a commercial base with significant office or hotel use where the first 15 to 20 storeys are commercial even before you get to the residential portion,” he said.

His firm in recent years completed Station Square at Metrotown, which has five towers with the tallest being 54 storeys.

“One of the interesting changes that we’re seeing is that because these developments are being done near transit sites, cities are requiring less parking,” said Dikeakos. “If we had to do the same amount of parking required a few years ago, the depth of these excavations would make them completely unfeasible. (When) we’re not required to do as much parking, it allows us to do these taller towers and still make some financial sense.”

Even though developers are motivated to deal with increasing land and construction costs by building higher, there is a turning point. It will obviously be different for each project, but Dikeakos said that for the Station Square project, it was somewhere at the 52- to 55-storey height.

“That was the maximum we wanted to go in that particular case because things like the cost of structural systems increase as you go higher. The number of elevators potentially increases. Window-washing systems become more complex. There are all sorts of things that actually do add to the overall cost of these taller buildings.”


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New York Fed board member warns of commercial real-estate risks – Reuters



NEW YORK, March 24 (Reuters) – An executive who also serves on the board overseeing the New York Federal Reserve warned on Twitter of potentially systemic problems in the real estate finance market and called on the industry to work with authorities to avoid things getting out of hand.

Noting there is $1.5 trillion in commercial real estate debt set to mature in the next three years, Scott Rechler, who is CEO of RXR, a large property manager and developer, tweeted: “The bulk of this debt was financed when base interest rates were near zero. This debt needs to be refinanced in an environment where rates are higher, values are lower, & in a market with less liquidity.”

Rechler said he’s joined with the Real Estate Roundtable “in calling for a program that provides lenders the leeway and the flexibility from regulators to work with borrowers to develop responsible, constructive refinancing plans.”

“If we fail to act, we risk a systemic crisis with our banking system & particularly the regional banks” which make up over three quarters of real estate lending, which will in turn put pressure on local governments that depend on property taxes to fund their operations, Rechler wrote.

The executive weighed in amid broad concern in markets that aggressive Fed rate hikes aimed at lowering high inflation will also break something in the financial sector, as collateral damage to the core monetary policy mission.

The Fed nearly held off on raising its short-term rate target on Wednesday after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank rattled markets. The failure of Silicon Valley Bank was linked to the firm’s trouble in managing its holdings as markets repriced to deal with higher Fed short-term interest rates.

The real-estate sector has also been hard hit by Fed rate rises and commercial real estate has also been hobbled by the shift away from in-office work during the pandemic.

Also weighing in via Twitter, the former leader of the Boston Fed, Eric Rosengren, offered a warning on real estate risks, echoing a long-held concern of his dating back a number of years.

Pointing to big declines in real estate investment indexes, he said “many bank lenders will be pulling back just as leases roll, with high office vacancies and high interest rates. Regional bank shock and troubled offices will be negatively reinforcing.”

Real estate woes are on the Fed’s radar, but leaders believe banks can navigate the challenges.

Speaking at a press conference Wednesday following the Fed’s quarter percentage point rate rise, central bank leader Jerome Powell said “we’re well-aware of the concentrations people have in commercial real estate,” while adding “the banking system is strong, it is sound, it is resilient, it’s well-capitalized,” which he said should limit other financial firms from hitting the trouble that felled SVB.

Rechler serves as what’s called a Class B director on the 12-person panel of private citizens who oversee the New York Fed. That class of director is elected by the private banks of the respective regional Feds to represent the interest of the public. Each of the quasi-private regional Fed banks are also operated under the oversight of the Fed’s Board of Governors in Washington, which is explicitly part of the government.

The boards overseeing each of the regional Fed banks are made up of a mix of bankers, business and non-profit leaders. These boards provide advice in running large organizations and local economic intelligence. Their most visible role is helping regional Fed banks find new presidents, although bankers who serve as directors are by law not part of this process.

Central bank rules say that directors are not involved in bank oversight and regulation activities, which are controlled by the Fed in Washington.

Reporting by Michael S. Derby; Editing by Andrea Ricci

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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China's Mysteriously Resilient Real Estate Prices: New Economy Saturday – Bloomberg – Bloomberg



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China’s Mysteriously Resilient Real Estate Prices: New Economy Saturday – Bloomberg  Bloomberg


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Widow's battle to resell burial space underscores Metro Vancouver's real estate crunch –



A little more than 25 years ago, John Douglas Carnahan bought the rights to two burial plots in the northeast corner of a hilly cemetery in a dense area of Burnaby, B.C. 

Back then, they cost $750 each. 

As years passed and space grew scarce, the cost of a single plot in the same cemetery surged to more than $10,000. 


After Carnahan’s death at 91, his widow decided not to use the plots. Her battle for the right to sell the plots privately to any buyer at market value has now spilled over into B.C. Supreme Court in a case experts say again proves the region’s real estate crunch is also squeezing its graveyards.

“We are running out of space, particularly in the Lower Mainland,” said architect Bill Pechet, who’s worked in cemetery design for roughly 30 years.

“Just like we have a housing crisis for the living, we’re also encountering a housing crisis for those who want to be buried.”

Cemetery blocking resale, widow says

Carnahan bought both plots at Pacific Heritage Cemetery in March 1998. At the time, there was a clause in the purchase agreement saying cemetery directors “may” buy back owner’s plots at the original purchase price.

Carnahan’s widow, Sheila Carnahan, contacted the cemetery after her husband’s death in 2021 to ask how she could go about privately selling the plots she no longer needed to a third-party buyer.

Her claim said staff told her in an email last October that, according to its bylaws, she could only sell her plots back to the cemetery for the original purchase price of $750 each.

Stone gravemarkers are pictured in a grassy cemetery on an overcast day. Residential homes are visible beyond a hedge in the background.
Burial plots in section G of the Pacific Heritage Cemetery in Burnaby, B.C., pictured on March 20. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Sheila Carnahan has argued the cemetery “misinterpreted” its own bylaws because the clause said cemetery directors “may purchase” plots back — not “must purchase.”

“The claimants say that the position taken by the [cemetery], while invalid in law, effectively prevents a sale to third parties because the [cemetery] controls the ownership record and the operation of the cemetery, including the preparation of the grave for use,” the lawsuit said.

“The [cemetery] could effectively prevent the new owner from using the plot.”

The cemetery has not responded to her claim in court.

In B.C., rights to interment sold in perpetuity

In B.C., buying a plot is just buying the right to interment, meaning a buyer is paying for the right to be buried in the space but not purchasing the land itself. Those rights are sold in perpetuity, so buyers can hold plots for however long they choose — unless a plot has been empty for more than 50 years and the rightsholder is more than 90 years old, in which case a cemetery can launch the complex process of applying to get the space back.

Each cemetery sets its own rules around resales. Some bylaws allow private sales, others don’t. 

Most cemeteries in Metro Vancouver are full or nearly full. As the value of real estate has skyrocketed over the last decade, so has the value of that scarce burial space — especially in urban areas. Private plots in Metro Vancouver have been listed on Craigslist or Kijiji for anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000.

Resales are common enough to warrant caution from Consumer Protection B.C., urging buyers to check online ads carefully to ensure whether cemeteries honour private sales. 

Limited space, poor planning part of the problem

There’s a shortage of traditional cemetery space in B.C. for the same reason there’s a shortage of space for new homes — builders have nowhere else to go.

“The housing crisis that we’re encountering is a result of our inability to expand horizontally because we encounter the mountains on one side and the ocean on the other,” said Pechet.

“We have a land shortage for housing, and cemetery spaces are a form of housing.”

City planning was also an issue.

“For some reason, the Metro Vancouver area seems to have significantly less cemetery space through some planning than most other municipalities,” said Glen Hodges, who manages Mountain View Cemetery, the only graveyard in Vancouver.

“It’s some magical mystery as to why.”

Some European countries, like Switzerland, Sweden, Italy, France and Germany, limit cemetery leases to anywhere between three and 30 years to free up more plots.

In Spain and the United Kingdom, bones can be moved after a certain period so the plot can be recycled to be sold again. The City of London Cemetery, for example, reuses graves left untouched after 75 years.

In 2019, the City of Vancouver passed a series of bylaws to save space at its only cemetery. Gravesites at Mountain View Cemetery are now allowed to be shared by multiple families, and the cemetery can decide when additional remains can be added to an existing space.

Pechet said B.C. might have to consider vertical cemeteries, like those in Japan, or find a way to tactfully incorporate gravesites into existing public parks. Recycling could also be an option. 

“I think it will inevitably have to lead to a lot of invention,” he said.

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