Friday, September 9, 2011

Fri Post #1: In search of HAM on Vancouver's West Side

Above is an aerial view of a property out near the University of British Columbia that is the quintessential example of greed chasing Hot Asian Money.

Located on Vancouver's ultra tony far west side, the property in question is a combination of 4883, 4889 and 4899 Belmont Avenue. Most observers can only look at the shenanigans going on there and shake their head.

Profiled recently over on VREAA, the property was once home to Frank Mackenzie Ross, lieutenant-governor of B.C. from 1955 to 1960. At that time, an elegant home graced the property. 

But that house burned down decades ago, leaving the property empty but for a rough, cedar-shake pavilion that still stands overlooking the ocean.

In the early 2000's the property was bought and flipped several times but nothing was ever built on it.

Then, in 2005, the property was sold to a Hong Kong investor (Rosy Palace Investments) for $10.8 million. 

The new owner attempted to do some 'improvements' before trying to flip their acquisition and gained significant notoriety in the process.

In conjunction with the realtor selling the property (Paulo Leung), the new owner was accused of illegally clear-cutting the land of 65 mature cedar, fir and maple trees which were bull-dozed into huge slash piles.

The clear cut was an attempt to access the property's spectacular views of Vancouver's English Bay.

In 2005 the City of Vancouver issued an Administrative Report requesting injuctive proceedings and warned propective buyers about the legal proceedings the City was undertaking.

City of Vancouver engineers said geotechnical conditions created by the clearcut were ripe for a landslide along the slopes of the property and threatened to collapse on a salmon steam below in neighboring Pacific Spirit Park and a short distance from the Spanish Banks public beaches.

The end result was a $200,000 fine for Leung and a very, very unstable mud lot (with stunning views). 

It never sold.

The property is back on the market now, presumably after some time to allow all the negative publicity to die down and after some time to repair the unstable hillside created by the clear cut.

It's also back with a heafty price increase.

Instead of the 2007 asking price of $14.8 million, now the asking price is $28.6 million.

Even more laughable is the current realtor's description:
  • Fantastic water, mountain & city views! Last & best 3 building lots left in prestigious Point Grey. Combine to build your one of a kind dream mansion! Over 218,000 sq ft in size & grandiosity with 478' frontage extending to NW Marine Dr. Borders University Endowment Lands for privacy! Belmont, address of the "Rich & Famous"! Like in Monopoly, buy Belmont Ave & end up winning the game! Across from Spanish Banks, close to Jericho Beach & Tennis Club, Royal Yacht Club, UBC and downtown!
And that's what Real Estate is like in the City on the Edge of the Rainforest righ now... a game.

Because if you add in the $200,000 fine plus the renovations required to shore up the hillside to conform with geotechnical conditions, does that really justify a $14 million increase in the price of a property that doesn't even have a mansion on it (or any house for that matter)?

You know this is all going to end very badly.

Click 'comments' below to contribute to this post.
Please read disclaimer at bottom of blog.


  1. look at the swaps


    Something is up in Euro land and it is not confidence. Hope you bought that new shovel to help you with the expansion on your bunker.

  2. What a jerk this paulo leung is!

  3. That area always amazes me; there is so much house construction and renovation going on and there always seems to be properties changing hands. Next door to this place is (or was, as he no longer lives there) Edger Kaiser's house that he built in the early 1990's after his Bank of BC bankruptcy fiasco which also had a spectacular fire caused by a faulty Christmas tree. He sued the designer, fixed the substantial damage and later reportedly sold the house for a dollar to someone. Murray Pezim's old place is in that area as well as Don Mattrick's huge estate. Peter Bentley and family of Canfor fame also live in that area.

  4. Shaughnessy was always publically noted as Vancouver's enclave of the rich (especially the area around The Cresent), but this area seems to rival that.

  5. This is such a farce. A $200,000 fine? Even if the cost of shoring up the clearcut is $2 million, they stand to realize a stunning $16 million profit if they found some fool willing to pay that price. Even if it sold for 40% below the asking price, they are still looking at a $7 million profit.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.