Office development aimed at luring remote workers back

Incentives include natural ventilation, wellness studio, short-term leases

Arpeg Group of Companies’ Coal Harbour office space development is scheduled to be completed in December | Submitted

A new pandemic-inspired workspace design in Vancouver’s Coal Harbour will be outfitted with the latest in health and wellness features, but it may be the short, flexible leases that will persuade remote professionals that it’s time to get back to the office.

After B.C. posted a record-high spike in COVID-19 cases in August, hopes that the pandemic would be short-lived are fading, and many employees who are working from home may have to decide when and if to return to downtown office towers.

The Arpeg Group of Companies is banking on making that decision easier with And-Co, a new office concept scheduled to open this December in the Cardero building at 1575 West Georgia Street.

“Working from home during the pandemic has made companies rethink their relationship with the office,” said Sylvia Rayner, managing director at And-Co. “Companies want smarter spaces with flexible terms and have a renewed focus on wellness.”

The project will feature two levels of private office suites with an on-site wellness centre, event space and a contemporary Italian restaurant that includes a take-out menu.

Rayner said the private offices can accommodate from four to 16 people and are being targeted at established companies and boutique firms as well as out-of-town businesses looking to set up a base in the city.

There will be plenty of hand sanitizing stations and an emphasis on cleanliness, according to a company statement, to deal with “the new reality.”

Designed by architectural firm BVN, And-Co’s office suites and meeting rooms are soundproofed and come equipped with ergonomic furniture.

An interconnected stairway and large operable windows allow for natural light and fresh air while indoor bike storage and electric vehicle charging stations are included.

Beyond their private office space, tenants will have access to meditation rooms as well as a kitchen, lounge, an audio-visual production centre and shared meeting rooms.

The total space is 37,000 square feet, which includes the on-site restaurant and wellness studio and atrium on the main floor. There will be two floors of offices, totalling approximately 26,000 square feet.

All of the office space is being offered through 12-month leasing agreements, rather than the five- to 10-year lease terms common in the industry. The more flexible leases could ease fears of locking into long-term agreements for space that may not be needed if COVID-19 restrictions ramp-up.

Since COVID began, more than 500,000 square feet of Vancouver leased offices has been shoved back into the market as sublease space.

A separate 13,000 square foot office space above And-Co will either be sold or leased and could be linked to an And-Co tenant space, according to a company email.