The former Oakridge transit centre site has changed hands in advance of proceeding through the city approvals process.
Grosvenor announced its purchase of the property June 22 from MOMC Canada, which acquired the site from TransLink in 2016 in partnership with Intergulf Development Group. MOMC will retain a minority interest. Transca Real Estate Development (Canada) Ltd., which will partner with Grosvenor on the site’s redevelopment, was also a party to the transaction.
The deal was undertaken with a view to kickstarting development, said Mike Ward, senior vice-president and general manager with Grosvenor in Vancouver.
“It was really about our brand, and bringing that brand to a site that could use it really well,” he said.
Ward said MOMC – also known as Modern Green – is separate from a related company headquartered in China and the Oakridge deal is not linked to the owner’s activities in Asia.
Zhang Lei, chair of Modern Green, also chairs Modern Land (China) Co. Ltd., a company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Modern Land’s interim report audited by KPMG identified it as one of China’s top 100 real estate enterprises for seven consecutive years.
But last fall, Modern Land ran into challenges with coupon payments on maturing bonds.
“This is not related to the Chinese business,” Ward said. “This is a personal Vancouver holding of the fellow who is the chairman of both the Vancouver company and the company in China, but they are not legally or financially tied together.”
Grosvenor plans to file a development application with the city in the near future, with the intent of breaking ground on the first phase in partnership with Transca in early 2025.
A master plan approved by the city in 2020 provides for approximately 17 buildings ranging in size from four to 26 storeys with 1,630 residential units, both market and non-market housing. The master plan stipulates that 20 per cent of the residential units be designated for affordable housing, including city-owned social housing to moderate income rental housing.
Retail space and a two-acre park are also part of the development, which will see 1.5 million square feet built on the 13.8-acre site.
“The master plan is complete and approved, but now we have to go through the details design and development permit process for the first phase,” Ward said.
The project will ultimately have four phases. Ward believes the two-year window for securing municipal approvals for the first phase is reasonable. By then, construction costs should have stabilized as well as consumer demand, setting the stage for construction.
This isn’t Grosvenor’s first foray into the area. The company bought a townhouse site at Oak and 37th six months ago, and purchased a development site at 46th and Oak five years ago.
“We’ve had our eye on the area for some time,” Ward said. “We like the area for all the obvious reasons, and the Oakridge Park development – the Westbank-Quadreal project – is going to be transformative. … We’re excited to be near it, so that our future residents can benefit from it and the transit that’s at it to get to the airport, to get to downtown.”
A purchase price for the property was not disclosed.
Ward said the transaction was via a share purchase, which means it will not be registered with land titles.
The property last sold in late 2016, when it was valued at $440 million. Ward would not comment on the premium paid relative to the last sale price.
BC Assessment data pegs the value of the site at less than $400 million.