This story was original published on Oct. 21, 2016 on WesternInvestor.com and has been edited to include the transaction's confirmed sale details, released via press release from TransLink on Dec. 20, 2016.
TransLink has sold its 13.8-acre Oakridge Transit Centre in Vancouver to a consortium of investors that includes Vancouver developer Intergulf Development Group and China-based Modern Green Development Co. Ltd., operating as Modern Investment Group.
The sale price was between $425 million and $450 million, sources say. In a press release sent out by TransLink on Dec. 20, the purchase price was comfirmed to be $440 million.
TransLink has imposed a cone of silence on the transaction, despite the involvement of public-owned land. “TransLink is bound by confidentiality provisions and is unable to provide further detail as to who the prospective buyer(s) is [are] or the contemplated transaction particulars,” said Chris Bryan, a TransLink media relations adviser.
The confidentiality agreements are apparently ironclad. An agent with Cushman & Wakefield, the commercial real estate agency that brokered the sale, said, “We can’t even talk about it in the office.”
Jimmy Jin, a development analyst with Modern Investment Group, emailed a terse reply when asked for comment. “We don’t comment on rumours and speculation,” Jin wrote. Repeated further attempts to reach the company failed.
Modern Green has been active in joint ventures in B.C., most notably at the University of British Columbia (UBC) where they completed a residential project with UBC Properties Trust. Modern Green has an office on the UBC campus.
The Oakridge Transit Centre land sale ranks in the top five real estate deals in Metro Vancouver this year and is the second-largest sale of public land in the province.
The Oakridge Transit Centre development lands have been approved for a density of approximately 1.26 million square feet of residential and retail, according to a 2015 City of Vancouver planning document. The proposed density is approximately 2.1 FSR (floor space ratio) over the entire site, or 2.5 FSR if a planned 2.3-acre park is not included in the calculation. The focus is on residential.
TransLink considers the Oakridge transit site as surplus land and has already transferred most of the buses and services to its Vancouver Transit Centre in south Vancouver.
There is no confirmation on the timing of development. The remaining transit centre services would have to move and the entire site cleaned up to modern environmental standards at the expense of TransLink. Building permit and development approvals would then need to be finalized with the City of Vancouver.
Intergulf, which has built more than 6,500 homes and is currently completing the Empire at QE Park residential strata project on Cambie Street, will be responsible for development of the site. Ron Sydor, Intergulf vice-president of acquisitions, declined to comment.
Modern Green is said to be the largest investor in the transaction.
The Oakridge transit project would have been a step up for Kunyuan International Group, said to be involved in early talks for the sale. The development group has been in a buying frenzy since it entered the Metro Vancouver market in 2013.
According to a company statement, Kunyuan bought $120 million of Metro real estate that year and spent $230 million in 2014.
“In 2015, our transactions exceeded $400 million,” said the company statement.
When asked about the Oakridge transit deal, Kunyuan president Kevin Li first asked for the names of WI’s sources. “We have a confidentiality agreement with TransLink and Cushman [& Wakefield],” Li said. “Sorry, but I can’t say anything about this.”