Searching for a space to mark a brand’s entry into Vancouver
In late 2019, Polestar was planning the market launch of an entirely new car brand. The electric performance car company was looking for rental space that would help it to mark its entrance into Vancouver in a big way. Seeing a Colliers listing sign on a property on Robson Street, Polestar reached out to the listing agent, Sherman Scott.
Conversations with Sherman showed his extensive experience in and knowledge of the urban retail market. Between their interactions and a positive existing relationship with Colliers Victoria, Polestar saw the expertise on hand and asked Sherman to put together some ideas for the Robson space. While the original request was for a showroom, it was soon determined that a service centre would also be required and the search for an industrial space to lease began.
In early 2020, Colliers negotiated a conditional lease contract for a prime showroom space on South Granville and had narrowed down the lease options for a service facility. Soon after, the country experienced the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Barriers become opportunities
As part of the reaction to COVID, interest rates dropped and build-out costs went up. Polestar quickly calculated that it could invest the same amount to own rather than lease from someone else. It decided not to move forward with the lease contracts and re-assigned Colliers to seek out two buildings for purchase that would be suitable to house a showroom and a service centre.
Colliers went to work to identify space options that would serve the individual needs of each piece of the business. In an industrial market that was about to explode, these buyers were among the first to get their eyes on a number of prime spaces due to the market knowledge and relationships Colliers had cultivated over the years. Soon, Polestar submitted offers to purchase for a service centre on Frances Street and a retail store on Seymour Street, both of which were Colliers’ listings. To solve a space concern, Colliers sourced needed rental parking near the retail location.
Strict timelines require shifting solutions
However, the challenges didn’t end there. Permit delays on its new showroom meant that Polestar was not going to meet a strict worldwide launch campaign timeline. To solve this, Colliers set out to find temporary retail locations that would be suitable to launch the brand and make an impression while complementing the upcoming permanent space. After being presented with several options, Polestar selected two short-term leases: the former MINI dealership in Yaletown and a showroom with additional mall display space within Park Royal Mall in North Vancouver. With Sherman’s history and experience in enclosed mall retail, he was able to structure very favourable terms for Polestar in Park Royal and the launch dates were secured.
Rapid expansion continues
After closing on both the Seymour Street property and the France Street service centre, Polestar realized that its service centre could benefit from even more space. The Colliers team negotiated the sale of the neighbouring property in 2021, allowing Polestar the space to expand rapidly. Now, Polestar and Colliers are working together to purchase a space in Burrard Slopes that will bring another new, soon-to-be-announced car brand to British Columbia.
Colliers was able to balance leasing and owning throughout a complex and evolving landscape, with an initial disappointment turning into a long-term opportunity for both Polestar and Colliers. Together, the two parties adapted strategies to find the best possible outcome, enabling the ownership group to take a new brand to market on the timeline it required.