Chi­nese de­vel­oper buys a BC ‘ghost town’

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By WANG RU in Beijing wan­gru@chi­nadaily.com.cn

A Chi­nese real es­tate company re­cently bought a “ghost town” in Bri­tish Columbia, Canada.

John Lovelace of Sut­ton Seafair Realty, the real-es­tate agency based in Rich­mond, BC, an­nounced on its of­fi­cial web­site on Jan 2 that Zhong Ya Group He­bei Canada-China Co, the company from China’s He­bei prov­ince, bought Bra­dian, an aban­doned town lo­cated in the Bridge River Val­ley north of Whistler.

The ghost town named Bra­dian, a 20 hectare com­mu­nity once built for a suc­cess­ful gold-min­ing op­er­a­tion, with streets, fire hy­drants, va­cant lots, and all of its 22 homes, was va­cated in the 1970s after min­ing waned.

“We had an un­be­liev­able re­sponse from po­ten­tial buy­ers all over the world,” said Lovelace in the of­fi­cial news re­lease. “But at the end of the day we feel that the Chi­nese company will be a good fit.

“The company told us they plan to re­ha­bil­i­tate the town but I think they are pre­pared to take the time to plan ev­ery­thing out first,” he said. “That plan­ning process will un­doubt­edly take con­sid­er­able time,” he added.

Michael Mills, the spokesper­son for the Bra­dian town project, speak­ing on be­half of the real es­tate agency, told the Huff­in­g­ton Post that the company would start to re­build and up­grade the in­fra­struc­ture in the first stage of the de­vel­op­ment.

Last Au­gust, the Globe and Mail said in a re­port, cit­ing the agency, that “any buyer would face a lot of work up­grad­ing the prop­erty and its fix­ture.”

The in­fra­struc­ture, such as plumb­ing and elec­tric­ity, dates back to the 1930s when they were in­stalled. Any cus­tomer would have to spend more money to deal with th­ese is­sues than to buy the town.

Lovelace said that buyer in­ter­est was evenly split be­tween do­mes­tic and for­eign in­vestors but he saw a chang­ing trend in Asian buy­ers.

The new wave of buy­ers are get­ting more so­phis­ti­cated, and they are look­ing at in­vest­ing out­side of places like Rich­mond and West Van­cou­ver. Now they are look­ing at prop­er­ties all over BC like farms, ranches, and busi­nesses, and in this case an en­tire town.

The realty agency, as its web­site shows, is go­ing to hold a China and BC In­vest­ment Expo on Feb 21, and has now opened reg­is­tra­tion to Chi­nese in­vestors.

The up­com­ing expo which ad­ver­tised it­self as “get out of town for high­est and best re­turns” will have a num­ber of in­vest­ment project for the in­vestors from China, for in­stance a ce­real crop farm­land, blue­berry farms, in­dus­trial parks and more ghost towns.

Lovelace said it was ex­cit­ing to see fresh money come into the ru­ral ar­eas of BC be­cause he thinks that ini­tia­tives such as the Bra­dian pur­chase might kick-start north­ern economies.

Chi­nese in­vestors in re­cent years have be­come the ma­jor force of for­eign in­vest­ment in the real-es­tate mar­ket in BC prov­ince.

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