Vancouver is Canada’s third-largest metropolitan area, with an estimated population of more than 2.3 million. The city itself is ethnically diverse, with immigrants making up 45.6 percent of the population, according to the 2006 census. An influx of Chinese immigration during the 1980s and 1990s brought a considerable amount of capital investment in the real estate market, according to Anthio Yuen, senior research analyst, CB Richard Ellis, with immigration from other parts of Asia also growing. Vancouver is among North America’s most dense cities, partially due to the downtown peninsula being bordered by the Pacific Ocean, and Stanley Park, a 1000-acre public park that attracts 8 million visitors a year.
Host of the 2010 Winter Olympics, Vancouver is consistently ranked among the world’s most livable cities due to its interest in sustainability, accessibility and inclusivity. The city recently began accepting public input on how it can become the greenest city in the world by 2020. It has a booming tourism industry that owes much to its natural beauty and a vibrant film industry attracted to the city by tax incentives and its diverse geography. The Port of Vancouver is the largest in Canada and provides the country with 129,500 jobs, $10.5 billion in GDP, $22 billion in economic output and $6.1 billion in wages.
The city’s dense urban core offers several prime retail districts. The Robson Street shopping district houses dozens of retailers, fine dining, coffee shops and hotels. One of the hottest up-and-coming retail districts is Yaletown, a formerly industrial area redeveloped to include condos and lofts along with high-end restaurants, bars and smaller retail boutiques and salons. Gastown is a historic district popular with tourists that includes restaurants, galleries and specialty shops.
Canada’s major banks emerged from the financial crisis among the strongest in the world due to the country’s tradition of conservative lending practices and strong capitalization, according to the “CIA World Factbook.” Still, Vancouver is ranked the third most expensive city in Canada and as having the sixth most overpriced real estate market, according to a 2009 Forbes study. Metro Vancouver’s retail market has shown signs of health since the economic slowdown, according to a CB Richard Ellis 2010 market outlook. Downtown streetfront retail performed relatively well in 2009, with Robson Street lease rates generally above $200 per square foot, according to the market outlook.