Archive for August, 2020

Nearly 10 acres sells for $64.5 million, Delta B.C

Monday, August 31st, 2020

Delta?s Trenant Park Square sells for $64.5 million

JLL Canada
Western Investor

Vancouver’s Trump Hotel has permanently closed

Saturday, August 29th, 2020

Vancouver’s Trump hotel closes doors for good

Joanne Lee-Young
The Vancouver Sun

A staff member answering phones at the Trump-branded hotel on Friday told Postmedia that the hotel was “closed for good.

The Trump International Hotel and Tower Vancouverr, which closed its doors in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has shut down permanently. Photo by John Mackie /PNG


Vancouver’s Trump Hotel has permanently closed, citing the pandemic, but it could reopen under another brand.

The land and building is owned by TA Global Berhad, a multinational Malaysian property company headed by Joo Kim Tiah, which paid to license rights to use the Trump name.

Three of U.S. President Donald Trump’s children — Donald Jr., Eric and Tiffany — were on hand to cut the ribbon at the $360-million complex opened on Feb. 28, 2017.

TA Global said its two of its Canadian subsidiaries, which leased and ran Trump Hotel and Tower Vancouver, are insolvent after the pandemic hobbled the hotel business, with revenue plummeting while expenses continued. The closure of the hotel has left hundreds of hotel employees out of work.

TA Global said TA Hotel Management Limited Partnership and TA Hotel GP Ltd. are bankrupt. TA Hotel Management’s bankruptcy filing showed it had assets of $1.104 million and debts of $4.795 million. Grant Thornton Ltd. was named bankruptcy trustee.

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Naming the 147-room hotel for the American president was unpopular locally. There were protests outside, including on opening day. Gregor Robertson, then the city’s mayor, asked for the Trump name to be removed, describing it as having “no more place on Vancouver’s skyline than his ignorant ideas have in the modern world.”

Lindsay Meredith, a Simon Fraser University marketing professor emeritus, said TA Global probably “wish to hell they hadn’t” licensed rights to the Trump name.

“They’re probably looking at it as a convenient way to dump a deal they made,” Meredith said. “The Trump brand historically looked to be relatively stable, but it’s become ever-mercurial and a bloody lightning rod.”


From left, Joo Kim Tiah, CEO of the Holborn Group; Donald Trump Jr., his wife Vanessa Haydon, Eric Trump, and his wife Lara Yunaska cut the ribbon during a ceremony inaugurating the Trump International Hotel and tower in Vancouver, Canada, on February 28, 2017. Photo by STEPHANIE LAMY /AFP/Getty Images


“If it was me, I would try to get out of that deal and take the financial hit,” said Kerry Jang, who was a city councillor and opposed the use of the Trump name when the hotel opened.

“Quite frankly, it would make good business sense,” Jang said. He suggested any future development here by TA Global subsidiaries — including the high-profile Holborn Group developer — might have faced protests over the Trump name.

The Washington Post said that since Trump became U.S. president, three other hotels bearing his name have cut ties with the brand and reopened under other names. In Vancouver, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has reportedly been looking for a hotel since losing its lease at its Pacific Centre location earlier this year.




TA Global, which has a market cap equivalent to $440 million Cdn, also owns and runs commercial properties in Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, China and Australia. Among them are hotels that are associated with other brands including Radisson and Movenpick, and the AAVA Whistler, which reopened in June.

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Holborn Group, which built the Trump hotel building, owns several major properties here, including Vancouver’s Little Mountain site.

Tiah would not comment further. Grant Thornton did not respond to inquiries. Inquiries to the Trump Organization, which is owned by the U.S. President, but run day-to-day by his sons, also went unanswered.

The bankruptcy filing also affected the 200-unit condominium section of the tower because owners relied on TA Hotel Management Limited Partnership to operate the building itself. The strata council assured residents it was making arrangements to ensure basic services in the building would bemaintained.



© 2020 Vancouver Sun

Vancouver?s Trump Hotel has permanently closed

Saturday, August 29th, 2020

Vancouver’s Trump hotel closes doors for good

Joanne Lee-Young
The Vancouver Sun

Trump International Hotel Management firm, has declared bankruptcy

Saturday, August 29th, 2020

Trump hotel management firm files for bankruptcy

Glen Korstrom
Western Investor

The company that operates the Trump International Hotel & Tower Vancouver, TA Hotel Management Limited Partnership, has declared bankruptcy, according to a document filed August 27 with the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada. It is a subsidiary of Malaysian-based TA Global Berhad. 

Upscale Cantonese restaurant Mott 32, which closed August 27 and had an employee tape a sign on its front door saying “we are temporarily closed (not COVID-19 related),” could reopen. BIV asked TA Hotel Management CEO Joo Kim Tiah about the closure and he replied in an email to say, “As for Mott 32, we hope to be up and running again soon.”

The bankruptcy document that BIV has obtained shows that TA Hotel Management Limited Partnership has $4,795,409 in liabilities and $1,104,588 in assets. Creditors are set to meet on September 16.

Grant Thornton Ltd. is the appointed licensed insolvency trustee and it has documents on its website that confirm the appointment. 

It also has a letter addressed to employees of TA Hotel Management.

“This letter constitutes notice that your employment with TA Hotel Management Limited Partnership and/or TA Hotel GP Ltd. is terminated effective August 27, 2020 (the “termination date”) as a result of these bankruptcy proceedings,” the letter said. “All salary, benefits, and other entitlements will cease as of the termination date.”

Employees are expected to file proofs of claim in order to try to get wages, vacation pay, termination pay and severance pay. Instructions for how to file those claims are to be soon provided to employees.

“You may also be eligible to file a claim under the government sponsored Wage Earner Protection Program Plan Act,” the letter said. “You will be provided with information on the WEPPA claims process, a Record of Employment, and a T4 in due course. Please note that amounts owing to you, if any, for termination pay in lieu of notice and severance pay are unsecured claims against the companies, however, such amounts may be covered under the WEPPA process.”

Condo owners concerned 


Meanwhile, the strata council for the 217 luxury residences above the 15-floor, 147-room Trump hotel addressed concerns by owners and residents that services could be disrupted.

“The past few hours have, undoubtedly, been challenging to understand the impacts of this on the service of the tower, which was primarily provided by staff of the Trump Hotel, who were all released from their respective employment today. In collaboration with members of the strata council,” wrote Michael Schuss, CEO of property manager AWM-Alliance Real Estate Group Ltd. on August 27.

“AWM is arranging to ensure essential services remain in place. We shall also have an additional security detail available.”



© Copyright 2020 Western Investor

CMHC providing a low cost rental construction projects valued at $1m and higher

Friday, August 28th, 2020

CMHC to fund rental construction projects valued at $1m and higher

Ephraim Vecina
Mortgage Broker News

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation announced that it will be providing rental construction financing, with the goal of improving supply in areas that require more rental housing.

The minimum loan amount will be $1 million, while the maximum would be up to 100% of loan-to-cost (for the residential loan component).

“CMHC rental construction financing provides low cost funding to eligible borrowers during the most risky phases of product development of rental apartments (construction through to stabilized operations),” CMHC said. “The initiative focuses on standard rental apartment projects in Canada with general occupants where there is a need for additional rental housing supply.”

CMHC said that the financing will not cover the construction of retirement homes, single-room occupancy, or student housing.

Among the Crown corporation’s recent moves towards boosting the rental market the $86.4 million tranche allocated for the construction of Soho Italia, a 30-storey, 250-unit project at 486-500 Preston Street in Ottawa.

“Current events remind us that nothing is more important than a home. Through the National Housing Strategy, more middle-class Canadians – and those working hard to join it – will find homes where their families can thrive and have the stability and opportunities they need to succeed,” said Ahmed Hussen, minister of Families, Children and Social Development and the minister responsible for CMHC. “Our government is committed to increasing the supply of rental units for Canadians through projects like [this].”



Copyright © 2020 Key Media

7 Tips for Sellers can Make their home more enticing

Friday, August 28th, 2020

7 Ways Sellers Can Up Their Home’s “Screen Appeal”

Justin Kerby
The Vancouver Sun

5 innovative pointers for connecting with new and existing clients in 2020

Wednesday, August 26th, 2020

Five tips for connecting with new and existing clients in 2020

Kasi Johnston
Mortgage Broker News

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced mortgage brokers to change the way they connect, rewarding the agile and innovative for finding new ways to prove their value, and attract and retain clients. Gregg Paul, VP industry relations at Lendesk, shares some of his top tips on how to leverage the new virtual normal and tactics to engage with clients.

Turn your home into a virtual boardroom

This is an obvious place to start, as meeting over Zoom or Microsoft Teams has become a normal part of the workday. Paul suggests using the space to connect with other finance professionals and bringing together a panel of experts, as well as each person’s database, in order to expand and combine networks. 

“Aligning with other professionals like financial advisors, lawyers, notaries and of course realtors can be extremely beneficial,” said Paul. “Collaborate with online seminars around investments, buying a second home or updates on market conditions, where everyone can attend from the comfort of their homes. You can collectively leverage each other’s active clients and integrate relationships for mutual benefit.” 

As the workforce gets more comfortable being on camera as well as digesting information through video, Paul says video messaging can also be a great medium versus written emails that may get overlooked, and can help with building a more personal relationship right from the get-go.


Give traditional mail another go

More of your clients are working from home than ever before. If you’re struggling to get a response or following up with a lead, ask if you can send them a small gift in the post. Receiving a package while you’re working from home will brighten your client’s day, plus it engages them, encourages a response and gives you an opportunity to get their details. Even better if the item you’re sending has some subtle branding or a call to action (make sure to include a business card). If you’re still not getting a response, send them a virtual gift, like a digital gift card. It’d be hard for them not to follow up with a thank you. 

Embrace social media

Social media is by no means new, but it has become king when it comes to engaging during a time of social distancing. Posting regularly is important but it’s also a great way to have organic, spontaneous conversations with clients. Paul suggests using Instagram stories to engage with your followers. 

Using the “poll” or “questions” feature on Instagram stories can help engage followers as well. Paul suggests asking questions like, “has your decision to purchase property changed because of COVID-19?” You can see responses, reply, and engage, potentially getting new leads.

Just ask

While it’s one of the easiest strategies even before the pandemic turned the world upside down, simply calling up your database and reaching out to customers remains an effective way of maintaining a connection. 

“Ask if any friends or family are looking at buying or refinancing and you’ll be amazed what might come from that conversation,” he added.

Let your light shine

This is an important time for brokers to showcase their value, according to Paul, who encourages brokers to explore tools and techniques that show how they can find clients the best products.

“With interest rates at historic lows, the focus is always on rate, but mortgage specialists need to explain the entire product,” he said. “If a client needs to move midterm, what does a prepayment penalty look like? Can a mortgage be ported to another property with or without penalty?”

Robust lender relationships are a huge asset, he added, and the ability to work within unique pipelines. Lendesk Spotlight Search allows mortgage specialists to find information quickly, compiling lender information into a concise, easily digestible report that can be sent to borrowers to allow for a truly informed decision as to what product fits best. It makes it easy for brokers to look at an array of lenders and what can work best for their borrower and their business, while laying it out for borrowers to understand the importance of flexibility, portability and all the other dynamics that play into a mortgage aside from rates. 

“Collecting the guidelines and requirements from each lender can take a long time for brokers, but leveraging this technology saves time and energy, while portraying the broker as a knowledgeable and prepared source,” added Paul. “Being that expert will be your greatest strength when it comes to staying connected.”


Copyright © 2020 Key Media

BCREA: a robust pace of recivery in housing market, B.C.

Wednesday, August 26th, 2020

BCREA: “Surprisingly strong” market recovery to last well into 2021

Ephraim Vecina
Mortgage Broker News

Despite a flagging economy, the British Columbia housing market is enjoying a robust pace of recovery that will propel it to new heights in the months ahead, according to the province’s foremost real estate organization.

In the third-quarter edition of its housing forecast, the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) said that sales activity has now exceeded pre-COVID-19 levels, “combined with a decline in the supply of re-sale listings driven by the pandemic.”

“The outlook for the BC housing market is much brighter following a surprisingly strong recovery,” said Brendon Ogmundson, BCREA chief economist. “We expect home sales will sustain this momentum into 2021.”

Among the major drivers of the trend would be the prevailing environment of record-low rates, BCREA said.

Residential sales through the province’s MLS will increase by 6.5% this year, likely reaching 82,380 transactions. Activity is projected to go up by another 17.6% to 96,860 sales in 2021.

The association’s forecast also pegged average sales prices to grow by 7.7% this year, and then by another 3.7% in 2021.

Price growth might be further aggravated by supply-side issues, as Statistics Canada data suggested that housing inventory in Canada’s largest markets will need considerable time to recover from the COVID-19 slowdown.

According to StatsCan, investment in residential construction fell by 21.4% annually in May to reach $7.83 billion. Proportionally, Vancouver had the greatest year-over-year plunge in residential construction investment, declining by 44% to $852 million in May.

A July analysis by real estate portal Better Dwelling said that compared to the rest of Canada, investment in Vancouver is recovering at a much slower rate.


Copyright © 2020 Key Media 

Analyst see a housing inventory surge once payment deferrals end

Wednesday, August 26th, 2020

Housing inventory could swell when deferral period ends ? analysis

Ephraim Vecina
Mortgage Broker News

A housing inventory surge will likely precede a predicted arrears spike once payment deferrals end, according to a Better Dwelling analysis.

With the total balance of mortgage payment deferrals reaching $247 billion as of the end of the second quarter, Canadians have come to heavily rely on lenders’ deferral options to stave off the worst economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, these well-intentioned programs had the unintentional effect of providing a false sense of security.

“Since people haven’t seen any defaults or distressed sales … people now think housing markets have no risk,” Better Dwelling said. “This is only temporary. As these deferrals expire, we approach the cliff. Once we get there, a significant number of people that haven’t got back on their feet will start to surface.”

The widespread lack of liquidity will become more apparent in the first few months of 2021, with arrears manifesting on January at the earliest. In the interim, many struggling Canadians will be thus forced to put up their properties for sale.

“The inability to pay doesn’t always turn into defaults when there [are] buyers,” Better Dwelling said. “Instead, people list their homes for sale and hope it sells and closes before the lender tries to claim it. … We should see a spike in inventory first.”

And while improved supply would be a good thing generally, it will introduce grave risks in the context of a post-deferral market.

“Rising inventory tends to give buyers more options, which turns into longer selling times. When you can’t dispose of your home in a timely fashion, that’s when defaults rise,” Better Dwelling said. “Rising inventory is expected later this year, and defaults are forecasted to climb next year.”


Copyright © 2020 Key Media 

20 Storey Rental building nixed by City of Vancouver

Wednesday, August 26th, 2020

Shining a light on Vancouver’s shadow debate

Dan Fumano
The Vancouver Sun

Opinion: Of course, nobody wants to live in permanent darkness. Meanwhile, most people agree Vancouver needs more rental homes. Balancing those pieces isn’t easy.

How much is a ray of sunshine worth?

It sounds like a metaphysical question, but city hall weighs such matters. City staffers and political leaders say they want to boost rental housing construction, but an unknown number of prospective rental homes never see the light of day because of concerns about shadows.

The city’s planning department recently kiboshed Reliance Properties’ proposal for a 26-storey apartment building at 837 Beatty St. The proposed development was never made public, because it died during the pre-application phase, the early part of the rezoning process where the proponent holds discussions with city staff before filing a formal application.

A major reason city staff wouldn’t support the 26-storey proposal, said Reliance president Jon Stovell, was shade: During certain times of the day during parts of year, the building would cast shadows across the street onto Terry Fox Plaza outside B.C. Place.

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So instead of about 150 secured market rental homes built by an established local developer in a walking- and transit-friendly downtown location — a not insignificant number considering the city fell 822 homes short last year on its annual target of 2,000 rental approvals — Reliance now aims to build a five-storey retail and office building on the site instead.

Shadowing problems have also led Reliance to indefinitely postpone a planned 25-storey, 158-unit rental tower at Davie and Hornby, Stovell said.

In their first 18 months on the job, Vancouver’s current council approved 32 rezoning applications for market rental projects, totalling 2,412 units — and they’ve rejected only one. But the public doesn’t know how many potential projects like this are abandoned or fundamentally changed at the pre-application stage because these early discussions are all private.

In fact, the mayor and council typically wouldn’t even know, Stovell said, suggesting it might be worth council reviewing “what the costs and broader community benefit implications (are) of some of these rigidly enforced urban design criteria.”

“You need to measure the benefit being forgone versus any harm being caused.”

Stovell says two major hurdles for bigger buildings are shadow considerations and “view cones,” which are areas where the city limits development to protect views of the mountains and water.

But there’s a difference between those two, Stovell said: While you sometimes hear developers debate the merits of protected view corridors, “you don’t hear them arguing about the actual rules — there’s no doubt about the rules.”

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When it comes to rules on shadowing, Stovell said, there appears to be a lack of clarity and consistency. Vancouver also seems to be getting stricter about shadows, he said. While public parks and plazas historically received top consideration for light considerations, some recent projects have been derailed because of potential shadows on retail spaces and sidewalks.

Vancouver seems to be more rigid about shadow considerations than other B.C. municipalities or even other major North American cities like Toronto, Chicago or Seattle, said Duncan Wlodarczak, vice-chair of the B.C. chapter of the Urban Land Institute, an international real estate research organization.

And it’s not just shadowing, Wlodarczak said, who is also Onni Group’s chief of staff. There are other urban design principles being considered, heritage values, tree retention and sustainability. “You bump into all these competing priorities.”

Wlodarczak, Stovell, and other developers don’t want to throw shade at city staff, who, they say, are just doing their jobs and following policy. But there seems to be a disconnect between what many politicians publicly say is far and away their top priority — producing more of the “right supply” of housing, particularly rentals — and all the competing priorities and hurdles developers encounter in the process.

“With a seeming lack of clarity, it slows down the process, and we see less housing built … and we see projects that could have been more affordable become less, and rental housing that became market condos, because the form overcame the function,” Wlodarczak said. “And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I don’t think it aligns with what the political discourse is in the city right now.”

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Michael Naylor, Vancouver’s acting assistant director of rezoning, said comments about a lack of clarity on shadowing policies are “totally fair.”

“It’s a bit of a hodgepodge,” Naylor said. “We recognize there are some issues and it appears we’re really inconsistent with it.”

The city is reviewing its shadowing policies with the aim of making it more clear and consistent, Naylor said.

However, Naylor said, shadows, light and broader livability considerations remain important. And while shadowing was a major reason city staff weren’t inclined to support Reliance’s 26-storey Beatty tower, it wasn’t the only consideration, he said.

The proposed tower also ran up against the city’s long-standing livability standards, which typically require 80 feet between residential towers, Naylor said, and there were heritage considerations, because Reliance’s tower proposal would only retain the facade of the two-storey, 1911-built warehouse building.

Another local developer, Amacon, was recently approved for a 29-storey hotel and condo development across the alley, but because the tower is further west, it won’t cast as much of a shadow on the plaza, Naylor said.

“You could take the attitude: ‘Livability be damned, let’s just cram the housing in.’ But we don’t really want to do that,” Naylor said. “We want to be sure that, as we bring on new residential buildings, that there’s still open space and light.”

Of course, nobody wants to live in permanent darkness. And of course, developers want to build as big as they can. Meanwhile, most people agree Vancouver needs more rental homes.

Balancing all those pieces isn’t easy, Naylor said. “It’s a challenge. All the time.”


© 2020 Vancouver Sun