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TransLink's rail division is expanding to Metrotown office tower

The move will ‘significantly increase’ the available office space for SkyTrain, West Coast Express
Translink is expanding its available office space. The agency has secured four floors at Central Park Place in Burnaby | Jennifer Gauthier

Before members of TransLink’s Mayors’ Council travelled to Ottawa to lobby for billions of additional federal dollars, the division that runs the SkyTrain and West Coast Express systems told staff that it was expanding to an office tower in Metrotown.

A May 9 B.C. Rapid Transit Co. (BCRTC) internal memo disclosed the move to an 18-storey building on Kingsway to accommodate the growth over the next decade.

“We're thrilled to announce that we've secured four floors at Central Park Place in Burnaby, which will significantly increase our available office space,” the memo said. “This new space is located at 4555 Kingsway, and it's just five kilometres from OMC1 [Operations and Maintenance Centre 1] and a quick seven-minute walk from the Metrotown SkyTrain station.”

The memo said BCRTC, which is based in the Edmonds area at OMC1, anticipates the first departments will move to Central Park Place beginning in the latter part of the third quarter.

“The relocation of departments will occur in phases. A larger renovation will then be done on the remaining two floors. Relocation onto these floors will not happen until completion of the capital project (timing is TBD),” the memo said.

TransLink spokesperson Dan Mountain said the Kingsway space was leased in 2019 and will be used at no additional leasing costs. He said employees will move onto the ninth and 11th to 13th floors.

“BCRTC will need additional space to accommodate staff that are necessary for SkyTrain expansions such as the Broadway Subway and the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain lines,” Mountain said.

Mountain was unable to say how much space TransLink actually used after the pandemic began in 2020.

The building’s registered owner is Central Park Developments Inc, whose directors are Robert and Colin Bosa. Entries in the TransLink statements of financial information from 2019 to 2021 (the most-recent year available) show a company called Central Park Partnership LP was paid $34,154 in 2019, $1,529,547 in 2020 and $2,024,762 in 2021.

TransLink’s statutory annual report for 2019 mentioned the business technology support (BTS) department’s $1.8 million move to Metrotown in a list of capital program changes.

“In order to meet capacity and project coordination challenges at Sapperton office and 307 Columbia locations, this project was to secure additional lease space at a Metrotown office building to house BTS project team members,” the March 20 report said.

Seven floors in the same building, each more than 11,000 square feet, are currently listed for lease by commercial real estate agency Avison Young, with estimated operating costs and taxes of $18.35 per square foot. The lease cost is not included, but a real estate industry source familiar with the building said the rate is around $32 per square foot, with a market tenant improvement allowance.

A decade ago, TransLink, Transit Police and Coast Mountain Bus Co. moved from a tower in Metrotown to new headquarters at the Brewery District in New Westminster’s Sapperton community. At the time, the lease was worth $1.7 million a year and TransLink said the arrangement saved $2.6 million a year. For 2021, the most-recent year available, TransLink paid $10.3 million to The Brewery District Developments LP, a company related to developer Wesgroup.

TransLink expects to spend more than $2.18 billion to run the region’s transit system in 2023, including $137 million for corporate operations. Of that, it earmarked $15.7 million for rentals, leases and property tax.

Representatives of a dozen municipalities, led by Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West, were on Parliament Hill Monday to promote their “Access to Everyone” plan for the major expansion of rapid transit, bus, SeaBus and road infrastructure and service.

“Access for Everyone requires a total investment of $21 billion over the next decade, and the region can’t afford to do it alone,” said the Mayors’ Council website.