Builders Cancel Projects as Housing Dips and Foreign Investing Dries Up to Toronto and Seattle

Vivagrand Developments, a Vancouver-based firm which describes itself as the North American office of a property developer in southern China, has cancelled its Langara West condo project in the Cambie Street corridor.

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It’s a rare move that comes as land prices in the area, as well as end prices for condos and townhomes in general, have surged.

It leaves 71 buyers of one-, two- and three-bedroom condos who, starting two years ago, locked into pre-sale contracts of around $700 to $900 a square foot with nothing but an offer from the developer to return their deposits, “plus an additional 50 per cent of their paid deposit as further compensation. For your $49,390 deposit, that means you will receive a total payment of $74,085.”

That’s little consolation in an area where prices for pre-sale condos are now going for between $1,200 to $1,400 a square foot, according to buyers who shared letters they received from Vivagrand.

They are reaching out to each other and potentially seeking legal advice. Some say they are now priced out of buying other condos or homes in the area given the appreciation in prices.

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Vivagrand said in an email, “the project will not be re-marketed and the property will be sold. This was an incredibly difficult decision, which was driven by extensive permitting delays, sharply rising construction costs and the subsequent loss of project financing.”

It explained to Postmedia: “Langara West submitted its development permit application to the City of Vancouver two years ago, in September 2015. To date, the final development permit for the project has not yet been issued. As such, construction has not yet been able to commence and the project would not be finished by the contractual completion date (July 2019).

Details in letters shared by the company with buyers reveal a possibly shorter timeline, and the city, in an emailed reply to Postmedia’s queries, agreed:

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“The City of Vancouver is disappointed that the developer has chosen to halt the project at this time, when the permit is close to completion, after years of collective work on the project, and when the city is in dire need of more housing.”

In January 2017, Vivagrand notified buyers it had obtained construction financing for the development from CIBC and Canadian Western Bank.

The company had also been keeping buyers informed about a situation involving a felled tree. It said in October 2016 that a tree on the corner of the development had been cut down without permission. The company hired a private firm to investigate, but was unable to identify the individuals involved. It then notified and worked with the city on a revised landscaping plan, which was submitted in April 2017.

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