After many months of very low land use and building permit activity, the City of Vancouver is starting to see modest increases in local construction activity, particularly in the multi-family and single-family residential sectors.
The following charts provide a look at recent trends in land use applications (e.g. site plans for apartments, commercial, or industrial projects), building permits, and the valuation of the projects for which building permits have been applied.
This chart shows several selected types of land use applications which best represent key development trends. Pre-application conferences with staff are required for larger commercial, industrial or multi-family projects and, while not an application per se, they are an indicator of likely future land use applications. Preliminary and final land division applications subdivide property and are an indicator of future single family residential activity. Preliminary and final site plans are indicators of future new commercial, multi-family, and industrial building activity.
The above chart shows a couple of trends. For pre-applications and site plans applications, there appears to be a return to more of a seasonal fluctuation in activity, where activity increases gradually during the first three quarters of the year, then falls off in the fourth quarter. This is the pattern that we used to see before the construction “boom” in the early to mid-2000’s (where activity was high in all categories) and then the recession in 2007-2009 (where activity was low in all categories). This return to a seasonal fluctuation in land use activity is seen as a positive trend that reflects steady and sustainable growth.
Another trend in the above chart is that new subdivision applications remain very low. This makes sense, since there are a number of vacant lots in subdivisions that were platted during the “boom” years that have not yet been built out. Until the vacant lot supply decreases further, new subdivision activity will remain low.
This chart shows building permits issued from January 2012 to July 2013 and reflects ongoing slow permit activity for new commercial and industrial buildings, but sustained, higher activity in tenant improvements to commercial property. Clearly, for now, building owners are choosing to invest in existing buildings rather than constructing new ones.
The big news in the above chart is the dramatic increase in the number of multi-family units since the fourth quarter of 2012. In fact, there is a mini “boomlet” of apartment projects all over town, with over 700 units currently under construction, another 500 units in either the land use or building permit review process, and yet another 740 units that have been discussed at a pre-application process. Multi-family permit activity should remain strong for the next year or two at least.
New single family residential permits remain fairly steady at 50-90 per quarter.
This table shows the valuation of development projects for which a building permit has been applied for, from beginning of 2012 to July of 2013. Although the number of new commercial and industrial projects remains low, several have been fairly large in terms of valuation. The spike in commercial valuation in the first quarter of 2013 was due almost entirely to permits for infrastructure at the Port of Vancouver and several significant tenant improvements.
The increase in multi-family permit valuations in the first two quarters of 2013 coincides with the substantial increase in number of units for which permits were issued.
This map shows a select number of featured projects - it does not show all projects currently being developed.
Please click each pin in the map to view more information about the project.
View Projects Worth Noting: July 2013 in a larger map