Credit Suisse breaks ground on $200 million tower despite no tenants

Credit Suisse Real Estate Asset Management and SwissReal Group revealed their confidence in Vancouver's office market by launching construction of their long-planned $200 million Exchange office tower at 475 Howe Street despite not having any tenants lined up.

Rendering of the new Exchange tower integrated into the restored Old Stock Exchange building

Credit Suisse Real Estate Asset Management and SwissReal Group revealed their confidence in Vancouver's office market by launching construction of their long-planned $200 million Exchange office tower at 475 Howe Street despite not having any tenants lined up.

"The race is on," effused marketer and CBRE Canada president Mark Renzoni. "The race to secure the first deal, the race to complete construction and the race to welcome the first tenants"

Swiss architect Harry Gugger and Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson joined Renzoni at the launch January 23.

The 31-storey, 369,000-square-foot building is set to be the second tallest LEED platinum office building in Canada and it is the country's first LEED platinum heritage conversion. Leed platinum is the highest designation for sustainability by the Canada Green Building Council.

The project incorporates part of Vancouver's former stock exchange building, which was built in 1929. Its construction employs an estimated 400 workers.

The building will use half the energy of a traditional office building, said Credit Suisse. The design includes solar thermal panels, storm water retention and reuse and geo-exchange thermal regulators.

Rainer Scherway, director at Credit Suisse Real Estate Asset Management, said the company usually invests in properties that are fully developed and leased.

"This office tower represents the first time in North America that we are confident enough to build a major project from the ground up," Scherway said.

Marketers expect most of the building to be leased before construction is completed in 2016.

Gugger also designed London's Tate Modern Gallery and the Bird's Nest Stadium in Beijing.

Credit Suisse got the green light for the building from Vancouver city council in August.

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