Sun Rivers: a confluence of investor opportunities

Sun Rivers
April 5, 2021

Wide Open Spaces: "Existing homes in one of the established neighbourhoods"  — 
Stoneridge Neighbourhood: "Impressive golf, river valley and mountain views"  — 
Wide Open Spaces: "Existing homes in one of the established neighbourhoods"  — 

Kamloops translates as “meeting place” in the region’s historical language but, for contemporary investors, the Sun Rivers community speaks of the confluence of geography, timing and opportunity in the fast-growing Thompson-Okanagan region.

Sun Rivers is the premier master-planned community in Kamloops.

The award-winning community is now home to over 900 homes built to date, including more than 200 condominiums, 150 townhouses and 550 single-family houses.

Demand from developers for building sites has been exceptionally high recently, with the Sun Rivers ownership group selling a number of multi-family development parcels, including all remaining land in the Village Centre.

Planning is now underway by third-party developers for a commercial centre, rental apartments, condominiums and a long-term care facility.

The planned build-out of the mixed-use Village Centre will deliver much sought-after commercial amenities for residents as well as a range of apartment-style housing that will be especially desirable for downsizers in the community.

Exempt from B.C.’s foreign-home buyer and speculation tax, and sited on a southwest exposure with views of an expansive golf course and the mountains, the remaining 56 acres of unsold future development land represents an opportunity for an investor or developer to gain foothold in one of Canada’s hottest real estate markets. 

The remaining development land is planned to accommodate over 300 ground-oriented homes, all surrounding the independently owned Bighorn Golf & Country Club.

The flexible master plan calls for approximately 75 per cent of the remaining density to be single-family in nature, with townhouses accounting for the rest.

Still, there is flexibility to change this product mix as needed to align with market demand.

“While individual building sites have been sold recently, the true opportunity is for a new group to acquire all the remaining lands and bring Sun Rivers to the next and final level of perfection,” says Rick Siemens, CEO of Sun Rivers.

The Sun Rivers community is a sustainable development leader, with each home having its own geothermal field.

An extensive infrastructure agreement is in place with Corix Utilities, a privately held corporation owned by the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation.

Corix is a leader in sustainable water, wastewater, and energy utility infrastructure for communities across North America.

The agreement with Corix provides a significant financial benefit to the Sun Rivers ownership group as Corix will pay for all future utility servicing costs, representing a value of approximately $11 million.

“The infrastructure agreement provides a significant cost advantage as compared to other new land development projects,” Siemens notes.

As well, the 6,714-yard course golf club, pro shop and restaurant is locally-owned and operated and requires no financial support from the existing homeowners or the Sun Rivers ownership group, yet all benefit from the proximity to one of the finest golf courses in British Columbia. 

Sun Rivers is under a long-term prepaid land lease administered by the Canadian government that runs until 2115. This prepaid lease structure is fully secure and does not present any obstacle to obtaining financing from local commercial lenders, as the current development has shown.

Kamloops, a sturdy city of nearly 50,000, has a diversified and stable economy – four of its five largest employers are government and the fifth is the Highland Valley Copper Mine – with a growing technology and tourism industry. 

With intense buyer demand and a shortage of building sites, Kamloops region housing sales are forecast to rise 11.7 per cent in 2021, with average prices rising a further 5.7 per cent after setting a record pace in 2020, according to the latest outlook from the BC Real Estate Association.

The investment metrics at Sun Rivers are equally impressive.

According to current financial projections, there is potential for a purchaser to earn an unlevered internal rate of return of over 20 per cent and recover their entire capital investment in the first four to five years.

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