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Water’s Edge: Cafes, hotels and other commercial properties sitting on pricey Metro Vancouver land

Lori Culbert, Vancouver Sun, May 11, 2016

Commercial properties may only take up two per cent of the land lining Metro Vancouver’s oceanfront, but this includes nearly 600 businesses that will feed, entertain and pamper you along the shoreline.

There are at least 77 office buildings, 73 hotels, 37 stores, 12 restaurants and five theatres directly on the Pacific Ocean between Lions Bay and South Surrey. (There are likely even more stores and restaurants that would not have been listed separately if, for example, they reside in a building primarily used for offices.)

The Sun analyzed the commercial makeup of our waterfront using real estate data provided by Landcor Data Corp.

We found three-quarters of the oceanfront commercial hub is in Vancouver and 15 per cent is in Richmond — mainly due to Steveston.

The most popular commercial properties on the water, perhaps not surprisingly, are marinas: 152 of them, valued at more than $200 million.

This colour-coded map shows the type and location of Metro Vancouver’s commercial properties. Hover over a dot for more information. (To move the map around, under the arrow menu chose the cross with the pointy ends then click on the map and slide your mouse left or right, up or down.)

There are some seaside operations that perhaps are not the best use of our precious, expensive waterfront: 34 storage and warehouse facilities, 21 parking lots, two gas stations and one car wash.

Those parking lots have a combined assessed value of nearly $200 million. No wonder it is so expensive to park your car downtown.

The most valuable type of oceanfront commercial properties are where locals work and where vacationers sleep: $790 million in offices and $635 million in hotels.

The big-ticket seaside office buildings are the Waterfront Centre ($289 million), Harbour Event Centre ($166 million) and the PricewaterhouseCoopers tower ($164 million), all in Vancouver. The downtown’s priciest hotels lining the shore are the Pan Pacific ($229 million), Westin Bayshore ($154 million) and the Fairmont Waterfront ($126 million).

Come back to this space Friday as we analyze the BIGGEST things on the waterfront: largest houses, lots and other fun facts.

In an effort to define our oceanfront, The Sun asked for help from Landcor, a New Westminster-based firm that specializes in analyzing real estate data. Landcor matched B.C. Assessment data with other shoreline data sets to create a spreadsheet of 9,518 oceanfront properties between Lions Bay and South Surrey. Landcor excluded all addresses that were separated from the coast by another property, a road or railway (with the exception of the BNSF Railway in White Rock.) The Sun then analyzed that data to produce the maps and graphics for this series.