Spatial fix and spatial substitutability practices among canada's largest office development firms

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Among agents that reflect and shape urban space, prominent property developers are powerful players. This paper examines the spatial practices of Canada's largest office development firms. These firms constantly explore new frontiers for investment, but at the same time well-established nodes are rigorously maintained and protected. Larger urban areas are preferred locations for investment; yet among them only a few cities attract the vast majority of investment. Once an investment channel is initiated and a threshold is reached, existing assets act as magnets, attracting more investment and strengthening the allure of particular places. Within a particular place (a city or a metropolitan area) the mix of properties held by a firm is likely to change over time. Core properties are considered strategic assets and therefore are retained as long-standing investments; peripheral assets have to meet corporate requirements and are thus subject to trade and replacement. Findings confirm the key position of Toronto within the Canadian urban system but also indicate that the scale of property investment does not fully correlate with urban hierarchy. On the intraurban scale, the framework of core-periphery properties helps to explain the spatial patterns of office development and the primary role of traditional nodes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)386-409
Number of pages24
JournalUrban Geography
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2003


  • Canadian urban hierarchy
  • Core-periphery portfolio
  • Office development
  • Property developers
  • Trizec Corporation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


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