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The campaign begins: Developers in disarray, Vision peppy, Peter sick

October 16th, 2008 · 1 Comment

Oh yes, another election. Don’t forget.

The billboards are starting to go up. (There’s one a half block from my house with Peter Ladner and his smiling team saying something about creating a green and affordable city.) The Visionistas are happily out delivering lawn signs.

Yes, it’s time for the main battle. Well, almost, as soon as those two byelections in Vancouver-Fairview and the West End are out of the way. But we’ll pretend they aren’t happening.

So what is the world we’ve woken up to post-federal election? Well, media throughout the city continue to pursue the story of what’s happening with development and there seems to be fresh meat out there to feed them. CBC had a story tonight about the developers of the mega Infinity Towers project in Surrey, Jung Developments, asking for creditor protection. Their lender was Lehman Brothers. Oops, say no more. A link to their story here (go to the video clips on the left) and I’ll post the inadvertently hilarious news release that was sent out by the company earlier today. I understand there’s also another (not good) Millennium-related story about to break on a news radio station tomorrow.

That could end up colouring this campaign a fair bit. After all, land use is the main business of cities.

Speaking of which, since the development industry isn’t going so well these days, I hear that developers are letting political parties know that there won’t be as much money to throw around as in previous years. Maybe this won’t be the $2-million-per-party election after all.

That means it will all come to just plain hard work and scrappiness. So far, Vision is winning the scrappiness stakes. They had their guy, Gregor Robertson, out on the cameras in double time last Monday, when the story broke that the Olympic village might be in a bit of the mess and the city could end up being involved. Ladner’s team, as I noted previously, only managed to get out a news release late in the day.

At council yesterday, it sounds like the Visionistas ran rings around Ladner and team, as they backed them into a corner over the idea of banning plastic bags. Tim Stevenson brought this up earlier this year and it was such a hit with the public that, even though it’s far from the most effective environmental measure the city could take, he’s come back with it to champion the cause again. I understand that the meeting looked something like one of those unbalanced soccer matches where one team executes perfectly co-ordinated passes amongst the players while the other team flails around kicking the ball aimlessly and losing it on a regular basis. In the end, the NPA had to go along with Stevenson’s motion to get moving on the road to a ban. The Vision people are definitely feeling their oats. Look for Allen Garr’s column in the Courier tomorrow for more details on this.

On the other hand, the NPA’s been grinding away at all the hard policy stuff, one reason we are happy to sit at home with a beer and let them do the heavy lifting. The results of their one-day session held a few weeks ago, where they pulled together about three dozen experts in all kinds of issues, will be released tomorrow morning when they come out with their 50-point plan. (Uh-oh, this sounds a lot more ominous than Mayor Sam Sullivan’s or Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s five goals.)

In the meantime, Peter is struggling to keep up the pace because he’s been having tooth trouble. That was the reason he had to cancel his appearance at one of the thousands of Robertson-Ladner sparring matches that are still to unroll before election day. The Vancouver Peak Oil group got notified late last night that he wouldn’t be able to make it tonight because he was going in for one part of his three-part root canal sessions. Yuck.

Gregor went anyway and did his thing. Must be all that soccer training. But Peter, a marathoner, isn’t down for the count yet.

That’s all for the night. My blog stats continue to show startling numbers of you reading until 3 a.m., so enjoy.

Oh, and here’s the Infinity Towers news release.


(SURREY, BC) –A major refinancing effort spearheaded by PriceWaterhouseCoopers and the law firm of Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP is underway to revitalize the $350 million, 1,400 residential unit Infinity at Central City project in central Surrey.
Robert Millar, a partner at Faskens, representing Jung Developments Inc. and Mr. Hee Yong Yang, said the company applied for financial protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act today and was granted interim relief from its creditors in order that it could attract developer interest in the project.
The South Korean developer is building a five-tower complex, residential/retail complex, the largest in Surrey history.
“There are extraordinary credit conditions affecting many businesses around the world and they do not reflect the reality of local conditions, which remain strong”.
“Unfortunately, along with many other reputable developers, Mr. Yang has been adversely impacted by these changes and world wide tightening in the credit and financial markets.
“We want to first tell the 560 pre-sale buyers that their deposits are safe and that we are confident we will arrive at new financial partnership that will ensure this project is completed on time and on budget and that the buyers get the units they purchased. We are moving quickly to protect the interests of these pre-sale customers,” Millar said.
He said, “There are currently no cost overruns on the project and there is a quality builder on site.”
“PriceWaterhouseCoopers has been engaged to attract other developers to become financial partners in the project. Three major Vancouver development companies, whose names cannot be disclosed, have been identified and already expressed interest in the venture,” he said.
The project located on seven acres at the Surrey Central Station just 38 minutes from downtown Vancouver is seen as the new “city centre” of Surrey.
Millar said substantial project progress has already been achieved. The first of the five 36-storey towers has been completed and occupied. Two further towers are under construction, concrete floors have been poured up to levels 21 and 25 and the final two towers have not come to market but have zoning approval in place. Project sales for the towers under construction are expected to yield $170 million including the pre-sale agreements with the cost to complete the construction estimated to be less than $100 million.
Jung Developments feels that the future for Surrey remains very strong, adding it is the fastest growing city in the Lower Mainland with 9,500 people moving in annually. It will become B.C.’s largest city within 10 years.
The residential suites totaling 1.25 million square feet offer virtual uninterrupted views across the city and Fraser River to the North Shore Mountains, along the Fraser Valley to Mount Baker, downtown Vancouver and across Johnston Strait to the Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island.

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