A novice Vancouver developer has bought 232 acres of land in Anmore and Port Moody from Imperial Oil.
The deal, which closed last week, two years after Imperial put the site on the market, includes the historic and dilapidated Ioco townsite in Port Moody and a huge section of raw land in Anmore.
The land is located on the eastern edge of Imperial Oil’s 600 acres in the area.
“This is the last frontier,” said Anmore councilor and Port Moody realtor Ryan Froese, adding that the 150 forested and mostly sloped acres of Anmore land included in the sale to Brilliant Circle Group (BBG) of Vancouver “will prove a challenge for any developer.”
Brilliant Group has never developed land before, said noted Vancouver architect James Cheng who is representing the developer and will be the lead architect for any development. The principal of BBG, who asked not to be named, is a Canadian citizen with homes in both Hong Kong and Canada.
Cheng emphasized that BBG is acting alone and not on behalf of a China-based investment group.
“They [BBG] have other property in the Vancouver area but they have never seriously developed land,” Cheng said.
Among the challenges on the Anmore lands are difficult access, steep slopes and the need to protect a local creek and fish hatchery, according to Froese.
“Anmore has just approved our OCP [official community plan] that includes sections on steep slope retention and tree retention,” Froese said. He added that the sale “came as a surprise. We [Anmore council] were never consulted.”
A person reached at BBG’s office in Vancouver said, “we are not authorized to speak about this transaction” and that a representative would contact BIV. “They won’t.” said Cheng, “That is why they appointed me as their contact person.”
The 82 acres in Port Moody includes the Ioco townsite, a waterfront property with a marina at the gates of the Imperial compound. The old townsite is designated a heritage conservation area by Port Moody council, which has concerns about its 17 existing buildings falling into disrepair. Most of them are boarded up. Cheng said his only preconceived idea is to provide some retail amenities in the townsite.
He suggested the Anmore lands would most likely be developed with a mix of residential and, potentially, an “urban village.”
BBG will work closely with environmental groups, local stakeholders and Anmore and Port Moody council on development plans and any rezoning. Cheng said. He estimated the first public hearings on the plan would likely not start for at least a year.
“We have a blank slate,” Cheng said. “This is one of the most exciting projects in [Metro] Vancouver. Sites this large are very rare.”
The price BBG paid for the land has not been released, but one-acre view building lots in Anmore are currently listed at prices ranging from $625,000 to $725,000.