British Pacific Properties’ nine-year president Geoff Croll, 51, had the $12 open-face salmon-shrimp-turkey sandwich and an $8.50 Guinness stout at Red Lion Bar & Grill this week. Welsh-born prospector Grenville (Gren) Thomas built that Dundarave fixture after discovering the Northwest Territories’ 10-million-carat-a-year Diavik diamond property. UBC-grad civil engineer Croll’s employer hit pay dirt closer to home.
It was during the Depression in 1931 when Guinness family interests prevented West Vancouver’s bankruptcy by paying $75,000 for some 1,620 hectares of land. Individual lots are now worth 70 times that. Still, slow initial sales boomed only after the Park Royal shopping centre opened in 1950. Not that BPP sells bare lots today on its property’s undeveloped half. Introduced in 2000, construction agreements became mandatory in 2010 for the Highgrove project’s 11 single-family homes and 18 townhouses. Post-recession prices ran to $2.5 million.
By 2012, they’d more than doubled for the Highview project’s 16 single-family homes. Those smack on West Van’s 365-metre elevation contour, the present limit for residences, now resell for up to $10 million. Slightly downhill and averaging 3,700 square feet, five of 20 multi-family homes have sold in the contiguous Aston Hill development.
Such buyers “like to see the product,” Croll said regarding May’s construction completion.
They may also wish to see the stores, restaurants and professional premises for which British Properties dwellers descend to Marine Drive. Croll envisages them for Cypress Village further west in the Rogers Creek Planning Area. Still three years away, the project may include two hectares of rare level land that BPP traded away in a density-transfer agreement. Called McGavin Field, it was to be a now-uneconomic rugby-football facility.
Croll, a former Hillside Secondary and Rowing Club flanker, admires its Georgia Strait-to-Burrard Inlet panoramic view. Figuring to live there himself, he said: “I have the perfect opportunity to create my ideal neighbourhood.”
For now, there’s Mulgrave Park to develop with 15 houses running to $6 million apiece, eight semi-detached homes, and 53 single-floor apartments. Other than three 1960s rental towers beside Park Royal North, “It’s our first venture into the apartment market,” Croll said of the units, which will range from 1,000 to 4,000 square feet. Some 200 more are planned for a 250-unit project in Planning Area 6, with servicing to begin in 2016.
“Rogers Creek was successful because it was a community plan,” Croll said. “Not one person spoke against 700 new housing units in West Vancouver. That’s when you know you’ve done your job.”
Taking the cake: Thomas Fung, whose Fairchild Group owns six TV and six radio stations across Canada, welcomed Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Chinese New Year celebrations in Aberdeen Centre. Instructively for politicians, owner Fung demolished his original mall and, for $135 million, tripled it to 380,000 square feet to compete with nearby Richmond Centre.
Harper sidestepped the Chef Hung Taiwanese Beef Noodle restaurant’s private dining room that the Hong Kong-born Fung says “is like my office.” Now owning international rights for the chain that Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou opened, Fung may soon acquire the original outlets.
West Vancouver, UBC-campus and L.A. Chef Hung outlets followed Aberdeen Centre’s. Others in Surrey and California are due. There are four in Shanghai and two in Beijing with two more imminent. Fung expects to have 60 in Canada, the U.S. and Australia by 2010. He said Air Canada has agreed to put Chef Hung dishes on international and domestic flights. The carrier also sponsors Fairchild’s Miss Chinese Vancouver Pageant, the 20th version of which will benefit Vancouver General Hospital on July 19 and air to millions in China and elsewhere. A related December event will benefit B.C. Women’s Hospital & Health Centre.