Towers popped up in the downtown West End layer block to maximize windfall value

A downtown Vancouver condominium is gathering support from over 140 other strata owners to explore interest in selling their complex to a developer for the site’s high-density, upscale residential redevelopment potential.

The reason? Homeowners can expect a windfall, far above the current underestimation, despite being one of the best packages along West Georgia Street on the border of Coal Harbor and the West End.

The existing 1997-built complex at 1723 Alberni Street — the southwest corner of the intersection of West Georgia Street and Bidwell Street, just opposite the former Chevron gas station location — occupies most of the city block.

It currently involves a 23-story tower at the Bidwell Street end of the property, but most of the site is occupied by a low-rise building with townhouses. The floor density of the floor area is relatively low due to its high-profile location, with a floor area that is only three times the size of the floor.

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Existing location at 1723 Alberni Street. (1723 Alberni)

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Existing form of 1723 Alberni Street compared to future towers in the area. (1723 Alberni)

Rolando Vallarino, a real estate agent, owner and resident who has thoroughly researched the idea and is now spearheading efforts to convince his neighbors, estimates that lodge owners would see an appreciation value of around 60% if they jointly decided to sell the complex to a builder.

Based on his case study work, an option for remodeling would tear down townhouses to build a 385-foot-tall condominium tower, which is permitted for the site under the city’s 2013 approved West End Community Plan (WECP). There is a viewing cone above the site, but the allowable height of 385 feet below the WECP is well below the cone limit of 439 feet. The potential total floor area for the new tower is estimated to be approximately 200,000 square meters. The value of the property with the potential development of another tower is about $ 187 million.

The story is already set as the WECP has catalyzed the area along the westernmost end of West Georgia Street, near Stanley Park, to become a cluster of high-density towers. Over the years, developers have purchased the area’s strata properties for luxury renovations with high-caliber architecture by international architects. The area will see significant changes in the coming years from the completion of the first several major projects.

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Simple tower remodeling concept for 1723 Alberni Street. (1723 Alberni)

1723 alberni street vancouver concept

Simple tower remodeling concept for 1723 Alberni Street. (1723 Alberni)

Another option would involve the construction of a pair of 385 ft high towers, replacing both townhouses and the existing tower. But the developer in this scenario would probably wait a while until the conditions are right to tear down all structures so that the site can start from a clean slate- build two towers at the same time in a more technical and cost-effective way.

Given that the existing tower is only about 23 years old and has decades left in its useful life, there may be some resistance to its demolition.

The developer could potentially temporarily convert the existing tower into market rental housing to have an estimated $ 3.5 million in annual revenue to help finance the acquisition costs, while practicing deferred maintenance with the expectation that the tower would be demolished by 10 to 20 years. Two new towers would provide a total floor area of ​​about 400,000 square feet.

“Considering that the site can accommodate two towers and the current density, which is a third of the new developments, is being built next to it, it means that the complex, as it looks right now, is very low, which makes its rebuilding inevitable. I think it’s only a matter of time before a developer will start noticing the potential and start circulating the block, so to speak, ”Vallarino wrote.

“This is another reason why it is so important to organize and sell ourselves as a development opportunity rather than waiting for a developer to start strategically buying units to gain control, as they did in the four apartment buildings on across the street. The latter would result in a wide range of purchase prices and not necessarily a fair and orderly assessment of all units. ”

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Renovation concept with two towers for Alberni Street 1723. (1723 Alberni Street)

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Renovation concept with two towers for Alberni Street 1723. (1723 Alberni Street)

The third option for redevelopment involves a developer buying both Alberni Street 1723 and the smaller location on Alberni Street 1788, which is located at the Denman Street end of the city block.

Currently, 1723 Alberni Street is occupied by a 1993-built, 13-story residential property. While the WECP allows a 385-foot-high tower at this adjacent site, the allowable building height is reduced to 322 feet with a cone. A three-tower complex could become a lucrative option for a builder, with a tower on Alberni Street 1723 with protected and unobstructed views to the north and west.

To proceed with the next steps, a majority (50% +) of the team owners must agree to hire an agent to lead the process. The final decision to sell the property to a developer requires that at least 80% of the owners agree. Vallarino is currently measuring early interest before pursuing the team’s formal processes.

If they go so far in the process and approve a sale to a developer, the warehouse owners can divide the proceeds by either calculating the share each unit has, based on the percentage of the entire plot of land in relation to the size of the unit floor area, with further consideration of higher values ​​for units within higher floors. Alternatively, they could assign an independent assessor to value all the units and have the selling price divided according to a fixed percentage of the value of the units.

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Three towers concept at both locations in 1723 Alberni Street and 1788 Alberni Street. (1723 Alberni)

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Development potential for adjacent sites. (1723 Alberni)

In the spring, Vancouver City Council approved Anthem Properties’ proposal to renovate the former Chevron gas station 1616-1698 West Georgia Street into a 33-story tower with 127 condominiums. While the viewing cone and WECP combined allow an elevation of up to 385 feet, city staff demanded that the elevation be reduced to 326 feet to reduce the shadow at Marina Square Park. The developer bought the property for $ 70 million in 2017.

Further east, the longtime restaurant White Spot at 1608-1616 West Georgia Street was also sold in 2017 for $ 245 million. A 2019 submitted application requires two towers to reach 385 ft with 38 floors containing a total of 455 condominiums.

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