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‘Virtue of being a single corporate tenant’: A peek inside Amazon’s new Vancouver office

Tech giant to take up 1.1M sq. ft. off office space at a time workers are still shying from downtown
Amazon will soon be the sole corporate tenant of the former Canada Post building on Vancouver’s West Georgia Street | Rob Kruyt, BIV

The former Canada Post building on Vancouver’s West Georgia Street seems fitting for Inc. (Nasdaq:AMZN). As one of the world’s largest tech companies, it’s expansive reach will soon be occupying just over one million square feet of office space, rooftop amenities and endless food offerings. 

The tech giant is set to become the sole tenant of its new downtown Vancouver headquarters in September.  

The company will occupy roughly 1.1 million sq. ft. of office space within the north and south towers of The Post building. Amazon will be moving into roughly 600,000 sq. ft. of office space in the south tower throughout the fall, according to Amazon spokeswoman Kristin Gable.

The south tower of the building will be fully occupied by Amazon by February 2024 following a three-phase move-in process. Completion dates and exact usage of the office space in the north tower are still being determined. 

“We're looking at the space and based on what we learn over these next few months, as well as from our offices around the world, the space will be conceived based on what's going to be best for employees,” Gable said. 

Amazon currently has no plans to sublease any of the space in the new headquarters, Gable said.

Landlord QuadReal Property Group announced the building’s redevelopment in 2018. The original industrial portion of the Canada Post building has been preserved, with the two office towers sitting on top. The building occupies the city block surrounded by West Georgia, Hamilton, Dunsmuir and Homer streets. 

Much of the old Canada Post office remains, with the redevelopment conserving the outer features of the building and reinforcing the original steel and concrete frame. Roughly 40 per cent of the original structure is intact, according to Graeme Scott, QuadReal’s vice-president of mixed-use development.

“Lots of redevelopment just keeps the skin or a part of the skin of the building,” Scott said. “That's not what we did. We kept a large part of the building floors on the inside structure and grave foundations. We kept a lot of this building and just made it better.”

The existing industrial structure will feature 185,000 sq. ft. of retail, food and amenity space. This includes two restaurants, a food hall and a 47,000-sq.-ft. Loblaw Companies Ltd. grocery store, all of which will be open to the public.

About 3,000 employees will be based out of the south tower, according to Gable.

Amazon announced plans to cut 9,000 jobs in March after previously announcing plans to lay off 18,000 employees in January. Amazon did not say whether the layoffs will impact the new office space or the number of employees based at The Post. 

“What we can say today is that it's going to be a long-term view. We'll be evaluating our portfolio and making decisions when and if it is required,” Gable said.

BIV listed the company as the third-largest global and national firm in the province, with roughly 10,000 B.C.-based employees as of 2022. More recent data shows that this number has increased to 10,500, with more than 40,000 full-time employees across Canada, according to Amazon Canada’s 2022 impact report. 

The company will use an open plan work format, with employees assigned to different  “neighbourhoods'' or zones within the building. Amazon’s global real estate and facilities team, which handles design and planning for workspaces, will determine each neighbourhood by type of work, team size, how well a team works together and growth projections, among other factors, Gable said. 

Employees will be given information on their desk assignments next month.

The company will also provide meeting rooms, phone booths and “focus rooms,” which offer a private workspace.

The building features multiple rooftop and outdoor spaces, with amenities like a dog park, multipurpose sports court and event spaces. The highest rooftop on the south tower looks over the Harbour Centre and one of the existing Amazon offices on Dunsmuir and Homer streets, called YVR14. 

“That's the virtue of being a single corporate tenant. We are able to design outdoor spaces in ways that reflect our programs,” Gable said. 

The company has four B.C. fulfillment centres: two in Delta and one each in New Westminster and Richmond, according to the 2022 impact report. This is in addition to one corporate office, one sortation centre, seven delivery stations, one AMXL station for large deliveries and one tech hub.

—With files from Glen Korstrom

Photos: Sneak peek of Amazon's Downtown Vancouver development nearing completion