Weekly Buzz: Cypress sale and high-rise developments

Western Canada's top commercial real estate stories, featuring coverage on West End and Coquitlam developments, and capital investments

vancouver / cypress mountain / burquitlam
March 16, 2018

cypress mountain
The week’s top stories cover new development proposals for high-rise, mixed-use projects in Coquitlam and the West End, as well as breaking down the costs of construction and development in Canada. Meanwhile, Cypress Mountain makes news after its lease is sold for the second time in only two years.


Here is Western Investor’s pick of the top commercial real estate stories published this week.


Concert proposal in Coquitlam gets first glance – Tri-City News

As many as 6,000 new residents in eight towers, parks, YMCA, park-and-ride and community policing eyed for Burquitlam neighbourhood by Concert Properties, Tri-City News reports.  

Concert Properties’ Burquitlam redevelopment plan passed its first hurdle Monday night, providing a glimpse of what will be a neighbourhood of eight towers, a YMCA recreation centre, a community policing station, a park-and-ride facility and two upgraded parks.

As many as 6,000 people could eventually move to the area on Coquitlam’s western border, if the two projects seeking rezoning — Burquitlam Park and Whitgift Gardens — are approved.

Along the way, the city of Coquitlam is hoping to address many of its long-standing needs for parks and recreational facilities as well as jumpstart construction of seniors’ housing, rental housing and affordable housing.

And the public will get a chance to weigh-in during a public hearing at Coquitlam city hall chambers on Monday, March 12.

“With the Burquitlam site, it’s one of a number of highrise developments which are in-stream,” said George Fujii, the city’s director of development services. “But what will really transform the area, over and above the residential components is the new YMCA facility, the community policing station and the park and ride as well as those park components which will be part and parcel to these developments.”


Here are the two projects — the rezoning was given first reading by council Monday night:

Project 1 — Burquitlam Park (579 Smith Ave.). The plan would see Concert Properties rezone Burquitlam Park, the subject of a recent land swap with the city, transforming it from a grass playing field and baseball park, to a multi-use development with a 50-storey condominium tower, the city’s tallest, with approximately 435 units and another 30-storey purpose-built rental tower with approximately 275 units.

In between the two towers will be a two- to three-storey YMCA recreation facility with a pool, gym, multi-purpose space and more. The cost hasn’t been finalized but $25 million in community amenity contributions from developers will be available for the project, with the city paying 50% and the YMCA covering the rest, plus operating costs.

As well, there will be a community policing station and a 50-stall park-and-ride facility, plus about 1.5 acres of community park in the area, which is close to Burquitlam Station and Bosa’s Uptown development.

Project 2 — Whitgift Gardens (530 and 550 Cottonwood Ave). This area is currently zoned for three-storey apartments with approximately 200 units still being rented and a relocation plan being worked out for residents. The developer seeks a rezoning to construct six towers — two 37-storey rental towers, with approximately 654 units, four market condominium towers at 24, 25, 43 and 48-storeys, with approximately 1,187 units plus another approximately 132 market rental units for seniors.

[Tri-City News]


Dual 'starchitect'-designed towers planned for West End – Western Investor

Two residential towers including both condos and social housing units have been proposed for a site at Barclay and Thurlow.

A pair of high-rise residential towers designed by German “starchitect” Büro Ole Scheeren is proposed for a site at Barclay and Thurlow in the West End, almost directly behind the upcoming Butterfly tower.

The City of Vancouver has received a rezoning application from Bosa Properties and Kingswood Properties to build a 48-storey tower and a 49-storey tower at 1040-1080 Barclay Street, which currently has four low-rise residential buildings.

The site is adjacent to the Patina tower on Barclay Street, which itself backs on to the Butterfly tower soon to be built on Nelson Street.

Residents of the Patina building – some of whom registered concerns with the City about the Butterfly tower obstructing their southerly light and views – may find the same problem with the new proposal, which is immediately to the west of their building.

Bosa and Kingswood hope to get the site rezoned so that they can build the two residential buildings, containing:

  • 481 market condos;
  • 162 social housing units;
  • ground-floor retail space along Thurlow Street;
  • a 5,894-square-foot, city-owned childcare facility; and
  • eight levels of underground parking, with 626 parking stalls and 810 bicycle spaces.

The residential units will range from studios to three-bedroom homes.

[Western Investor]


Big spending, big impact for B.C. development sector – Business in Vancouver

Statistics Canada published its annual roundup of investment intentions at the end of February, and the forecast calls for public and private entities to spend $32.2 billion on capital projects in B.C. in 2018, Business in Vancouver reports.

While capital expenses in the construction sector are set to remain stable at $884 million, up marginally from 2017, the biggest gains with respect to development activity will be in utilities as well as the real estate and rental and leasing sectors. Both sectors are anticipated to see double-digit gains in investment, of 14.2% and 13.6%, respectively. Capital investment by utilities will increase to $4.5 billion, while companies active in real estate and rental and leasing activities will make capital investments in 2018 totalling $1.6 billion.

Utilities will primarily spend more on machinery, increasing investment 62.7% to $423.5 million, while real estate and rental and leasing companies will focus on construction with a 55.4% increase to $552.3 million. Utilities, by contrast, will boost spending on construction by just 10.8%. (The careful observer will note that the biggest gains come off the smallest component of spending in each sector.)

Statistics Canada’s estimates focus exclusively on non-residential capital expenditures.

Investment in action

The latest data from the BC Major Projects Inventory highlights the steady nature of investment activity. Regular updates to the inventory were interrupted last year by the provincial election and its aftermath, but the latest figures hold good news.

The number of projects classified as “on hold” in the province fell from 80 to 66 in the third quarter of 2017, while the number of projects under construction rose from 347 to 355 – the highest level since December 2015. The value of projects under construction rose to $74.7 billion. Victoria’s $2 billion waste-water management project, development of the Lower Lynn Interchange in North Vancouver and the Centre for Mental Health and Addiction in Coquitlam were among the projects that saw construction begin in the third quarter of 2017.

Proposed projects new to the inventory during the quarter include the $400 million Second Narrows water supply tunnel in Vancouver, $245 million worth of highway improvements in Delta and the third phase of the Lions Gate Hospital redevelopment project in North Vancouver.

Investment impact

All that investment, in both major projects and minor, is good news for the B.C. economy, as revealed by a new study undertaken by Meyers Norris Penny LLP (MNP LLP) for the Urban Development Institute, BC Real Estate Association and Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association.

Based on 2016 data, the study estimates the total economic impact of the development industry in B.C. at $46.4 billion in both direct spending and indirect effects. The study estimates the direct economic benefits at $27.3 billion, with a further $19.1 billion attributed to indirect and induced spending. The indirect and induced spending includes spending by suppliers to the development sector as well as “the additional spending by the employees of suppliers (primary suppliers) and their suppliers’ suppliers (secondary suppliers)” as a result of development activities.

The overall economic impact is up 32.4% from the previous study published in 2013, which looked at the development industry in 2012.                                                                              

[Business in Vancouver]


Cypress Mountain lease to be sold for second time in two years – Business in Vancouver

Michigan’s Boyne Resorts plans to buy a lease for B.C.’s Cypress Mountain as part of a deal that includes purchases of five other North American ski resorts, Business in Vancouver reports.

Boyne has operated Cypress’ business for years as part of a sublease agreement and it expects its new transaction to close later this year.

If the deal closes, it will be the second time in two years that the B.C. government lease for Cypress Mountain has changed hands.

Business in Vancouver reported last year that CNL Financial Group sold all 14 of its ski resorts, including a lease from the B.C. government for most of the 240 hectares of skiable terrain at Cypress Mountain, to Och-Ziff for US$374.5 million.

That transaction came after CNL divested many other assets and was driven by CNL wanting to provide liquidity for shareholders.

Bobby Swain, who was president and general manager at Cypress for 33 years before retiring last year, told BIV at the time that the sublease that Boyne Resorts uses to operate Cypress Mountain simply changed hands and Boyne’s rent cheques would be sent to Och-Ziff instead of CNL.

The latest transaction, if it completes, would mean that Boyne would no longer have to send those cheques to any lease holder.

“Our intention all along has been to regain and acquire ownership of these resorts,” said Stephen Kircher, president and CEO of Boyne Resorts.

“This transaction therefore poses no business interruption or integration risk. This opportunity now at hand will enable us to accelerate and fine tune the execution of our reinvestment plans for these spectacular properties, which will boost our competitive advantages and support our focus on continuous enhancement of the guest experience.”

In late 2016, when Vail Resorts Inc. (NYSE:MTN) spent US$1.4 billion to buy Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc., the prize asset was also a lease, not privately held land.

Vail owns a lease from the B.C. government for more than 8,000 acres of skiable terrain at Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.

In contrast to those two leasehold transactions for skiable terrain at B.C. ski resorts, the $200 million pact to buy Grouse Mountain Resort in July 2017 was for 1,200 acres of privately held land.

[Business in Vancouver]


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