Electronic Arts, 1077 Great Northern Way
01 The Opportunity
Electronic Arts (EA) is widely recognized as one of Vancouver’s leading video game developers with over 1,300 employees operating out of the world’s largest game test facility located in Burnaby BC. Vancouver is EA’s largest and oldest studio with roots dating back to 1983. Recently EA had outgrown its Burnaby campus and secured a build to suit facility adjacent the EA HQ in Burnaby through its previous advisor JLL. Delays with this to-be-built facility and lack of a back-up solution resulted in an immediate need for 50,000 sf in late 2020. The team was hired in early 2021 to replace JLL and assist with a solution for this immediate premises need. The team acted quickly to assist EA with their premises needs assessment and market review; and then introduced a higher-level view toward real estate that would position EA for being able to better accommodate their office premises and overall workplace needs both now and going forward. This assessment resulted in a new vision for EA which included an expanded geographic view to consider the city of Vancouver and the advantages that Vancouver offered: high speed transit access (not currently available at the Burnaby HQ), access to nearby amenities for staff (not currently available at the Burnaby HQ), leading edge facilities, access to talent, access to educational institutions (not readily available at the Burnaby HQ).
02 Our Approach
After completing the needs analysis and visioning for the Burnaby expansion, the team acted quickly to develop a shortlist that included existing properties across a wide variety of locations and building types. With vacancy under 5% and an extremely limited pool of properties that could accommodate 100,000 sf, C&W used its market intelligence and developer/landlord relationships to unearth a wide variety of solutions that were not known to the market. Given the landlords’ desire for the notoriety of winning the EA business, the team ran a visible RFP process that drew in a number of unique proposals and creative solutions for EA. All proposals attended to the stringent requirements established with the team to provide lease flexibility, EA’s sustainability standards, expansion rights, aggressive financial structure, EA’s technical requirements for redundant power, high speed redundant data, building amenities, building security and air quality metrics.
03 The Result
PCI/Low tide quickly emerged as a front runner for the new EA facility with its recently vacated mass timber building (1077 Great Northern Way) located in the false creek flats submarket in Vancouver’s downtown core periphery. The team’s location analysis pointed to a number key drivers important to EA: access to high-speed transit, access to education (Emily Carr University of Art and Design, The Centre for Digital Media, Langara Digital Arts School) and a growing talent pool living in the Mount Pleasant/Cambie/Main submarket. The building itself satisfied many of EA’s key metrics for this new “HQ2” vision. Built using mass timber construction and a leading-edge sustainability rating that exceeds LEED platinum and is 70% more efficient than a conventional office building. In addition, the building’s access to fresh air, outdoor patios and amenities such as a climbing wall and abundant secure bike parking with shower facilities were an important factor in meeting EA’s new health and wellness initiatives as well as a leading-edge environment in which to attract and retain talent. From a financial perspective, The team leveraged their RFP process to drive below market lease terms in a competitive bid situation; and introduced a unique deal structure that provided a significant (18 month) up front gross rental savings to EA while still securing a short term (5 year) commitment thus allowing for initial rent relief to accommodate a staged possession combined with future lease term flexibility. In addition, the team developed long range plan for this location by securing a Right of First refusal on an adjacent site owned by PCI/Low tide which can accommodate 400,000 sf of office space in a planned build to suit office facility.