The high-profile White Spot site on West Georgia has been sold for a reported $245 million, which is among the highest prices paid for residential real estate in Vancouver, according to real estate officials involved in the sale.
The restaurant site and adjacent parking lots are zoned for at least 391,000 square feet of residential space. At a sale price of $245 million, that works out to more than $626 per buildable square foot, according to Perry Allen, a real estate consultant involved in the deal.
“It’s almost an acre in downtown Vancouver,” Allen said Thursday. “It’s probably the best site in all of Canada — maybe North America.”
The two sites were purchased by Carnival International Holdings Ltd which trades on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong. The company listed on the land title as the new owner is Champion Rainbow Holdings Ltd. One of its directors is listed as Chunning Wang at 18/F Everbright Centre in Hong Kong, the head office of Carnival.
Postmedia could not reach Carnival for comment.
The properties were sold by Shato Holdings Ltd which was founded by Peter Toigo and now run by his sons Peter and Ron Toigo. In 1982, Shato purchased White Spot restaurants. The Toigo family also owns the Vancouver Giants Western Junior hockey team.
Shato Holdings declined to comment in response to a Postmedia request.
In July, Shato Holdings showed preliminary designs for two towers of 33 and 39 stories on the site at an open house, according to UrbanYVR.com.
The project was to have 350 condos ranging from one-bedroom units at 502 square feet to two-bedroom suites up to 1,342 square feet. Rooftop terraces were to be included in penthouses.
There are as many as eight other high rises slated nearby for the West Georgia corridor and Coal Harbour. They include Westbank’s Alberni by Kuma at Cardero and Alberni and Bosa’s Cardero at West Georgia and Cardero/Pender.
In April, Anthem Properties bought the Chevron gas station adjacent to the White Spot, paying a reported $72 million for the 16,369-square-foot site.
Allen said there a previous deal to sell the property that fell through. He and realtor Paul Isaacs became involved about five months ago.
Isaacs said in addition to its scenic location, the property had the added appeal of being suited to development because there is no highrise on the site that would take months and millions of dollars to demolish.
Isaacs said the $245 million price tag is high but it’s what properties are selling for in Vancouver.
“It is a beautiful location,” he said. “It is a trophy property.”
Andrey Pavlov is a professor at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of business who specializes in real estate finance.
He said given the price paid for the land and the proposed 350 suites, he didn’t see units starting at anything less than $1.5 million to $2 million each.
“Obviously, it’s very expensive,” he said.
Pavlov said there appears to be a story that’s repeating in Vancouver. If you look at current prices, it’s impossible to make a project work. So a developer adds another 15 to 20 per cent to make it profitable.
That’s fine – so long as prices keep going up.
He said while he’s worried about already high construction costs going higher, the bigger issue is prices.
“What happens in the real estate market stop going up the way it has been? It is hard to make a project like that work without price increases. God forbid we get a price decline.”
If that happens, is the city at risk of having half-completed condo towers everywhere because developers can’t turn a profit?
“But that has been my concern for a number of years and I have been wrong every time,” he said.
“I’m starting to be very cautious when I express this kind of concern.”
Known for building a massive tourism complex in Qingdao City, Carnival Group International is China’s only publicly-listed operator of integrated tourism and retail attractions.
The Rio Carnival complex includes indoor and outdoor underwater ocean exploration theme parks, hotels, outlet shopping, restaurants, a cinema, skating rink and conference centre.
Carnival also built the first high-end foreign living area in Chengdu — a combination of luxury residences and commercial buildings.
According to its website, the company recorded a gross profit of approximately HK$591 million at the end of 2015.