Bentall Centre to expand by one-third, as owners add 500,000 square feet

New ownership group plans to reposition retail space, lobbies and outside space

bentall centre  cc
The four-tower Bentall Centre complex was completed in 1981 | Chung Chow

New owners at the commercial real estate hub in downtown Vancouver known as Bentall Centre are planning a transformative upgrade to their four office towers and underground shopping mall.

The plan involves the owners building about 500,000 square feet of space to the current 1.44-million square feet of total floor area, which sits on a five-acre footprint, said Victor Coleman, CEO, president and chairman of Hudson Pacific Properties (NYSE:HPP) at an Urban Development Institute luncheon September 26.

The anticipated expansion would include a 450,000-square-foot Class AAA office tower with the rest of the expansion being largely retail space.

Los Angeles-based Hudson Pacific Properties and a private equity fund managed by a subsidiary of New York City-based Blackstone Group Inc. (NYSE:BX) bought Bentall Centre earlier this year from Beijing-based Anbang Insurance Group Co. Ltd. in a transaction announced in March. Hudson Pacific owns a 20% stake and is the operational manager of the site.

The sale price was not disclosed but Anbang reportedly bought the complex for $1.06 billion in 2016, in what is the largest reported real estate transaction in Vancouver's history.

“Bentall Centre has the opportunity in the facility itself for us to build at least half a million square feet, and that’s our objective initially,” Coleman said while on a panel. “We’re going to take 1.5 [million square feet] and make it two [million square feet] and grow from there.”

After the event Coleman spoke with Business in Vancouver and said that the changes to the complex’ approximately 140,000 square feet of retail space will be significant.

“We’re in the process now,” he said. “We don’t have a timeline – who knows? We have to design. We’re going to have to get entitlements, permits. Then we’ll effectively do it. The retail is going to be repositioned. The lobby is going to be repositioned. The outdoor areas are going to be repositioned. It’s all going to be different.”

One big change to the retail space is that there will be a more centralized food court, he said.

“There are multiple food areas and angles. We’re going to make it flow so it is a lot more easy for you to know exactly where the White Spot is, for example.”

He did not reveal how much capital the company would pump into the real estate but he called it a “substantial” amount.

“We’re not putting a budget out in the public.”