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Analysis of growth of Vancouver's central business district Jamieson, William Sinclair

Abstract

The primary purpose of this thesis is to examine development of Vancouver's Central Business District to test the hypothesis that "growth takes the path of least resistance" within the central core of Vancouver. Vancouver's city centre is considered to be the office headquarters of the Lower Mainland Area. Fulfillment of this role has resulted in the construction of twenty new office buildings in the past six years. This represents an increase of almost three million square feet which is 50% over the standing stock of 1965. The researcher had an opportunity to participate in this very active real estate market and as a result of such participation formulated the above growth hypothesis. This study briefly reviews existing theories of city growth and follows with a history of growth in Vancouver's central core. The thesis then describes the mechanics and results of a land use study of Vancouver's Central Area. The results of this extensive land use study are used to test the growth hypothesis mentioned in the initial chapter of this abstract. This test shows that growth in Vancouver does take the path of least resistance. This resistance to development may be tangible or intangible or a combination of both. Physical resistance arises from current patterns of building and/or land use — i.e. the density of the standing stock. Given the same relative location and degree of desirability, vacant land will be developed before underdeveloped land. Thus if there are well located vacant sites within the core it is easy to predict the direction of growth. For underdeveloped areas the study employs indices such as floor space index, the value of building per square foot of land area, and value of building per square foot of building area, to determine which sites are the most underdeveloped and would offer the least resistance in terms of cost to assemble for redevelopment purposes. The study also reviews factors such as the pattern of land and building ownership. The study concludes that these are intangible factors that can cause resistance to growth and must be considered when examining growth in the C.B.D. The study proceeds a step further by using the "least resistance" theory to identify areas of future growth. The area which offers the least resistance is chosen and the economic model developed indicates that development on the site would be profitable, thus could be considered a likely area for future growth.

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