TRUMP’S PILLAR OF ELITES
We take you inside Trump tower, perhaps the most scrutinized building that’s ever gone up in Vancouver. The structure housed the most expensive per-square-foot condos in Canada when sales began at Trump International Hotel and Tower Vancouver. An examination of public records reveals a list of well-heeled buyers who represent a cross-section of Vancouverites, including a tech billionaire, former ambassador and a northern B.C. mayor. Almost 20 per cent bought more than one condo. Some buyers hit it big with an assessed value now nearly double the purchase price.
Canada's (second) richest building The tower's 214 units were announced as sold-out in May 2016 at a Canadian record $1,610 a square foot. That was recently topped by the nearby Cardero development at $1,800 a square foot. Sale prices ranged from $619,900 for a 23rd floor unit to $6,737,900 for a unit on the 67th floor. Almost sold out While buyers have scooped up most units, the three penthouse
suites have yet to hit the market. The largest boasts and 4,661 square feet of living space. It's assessed at $14,618,000. A slightly smaller 4,406-square-foot penthouse is assessed at $13,688,000 and a 3,744-square-foot penthouse is assessed at $11,492,000. They're reportedly going to be priced from $20 million. Buying in bulk At least 41 units, or about 19 per cent of the tower, are owned by buyers who purchased more than one condo. American billionaire John Tu, Vancouver psychiatrist Raymond Liang and Vancouver realtor Derrick Cheung bought three each. Corporate purchases Of the 20 companies that bought units at the Trump, 16 are registered in B.C. Several of these B.C. companies have overseas ties. One B.C. numbered company has links to a multibillion-dollar company in Hong Kong and another has links to the former Andorran ambassador to Canada. Of the remaining firms, there is an Alberta numbered company with a B.C. address, an Edmonton property investment firm, an Ontario company linked to the director of a candle manufacturer and a California holding company linked to the CEO of a video game publisher. A diversity of day jobs Trump buyers represent a cross-section of wealthy Vancouverites including many dentists, doctors, homemakers, realtors, students, property managers, a travel agent, a pastor and many businesspeople. Among overseas owners is Jonathan Wan, the CEO of California-based video game publisher Tommo Inc., as well as co-owners Mahmood Al Aradi, an Abu Dhabi bank executive, and restaurant owner Rehab Almaskati. Low-risk buyers? About 40 per cent of the selection of land titles Postmedia looked at included mortgages, meaning the rest were likely paid for upfront. CIBC appears to be the lender of choice among these luxury buyers with other banks represented including HSBC, TD and BMO. Realtors get in on the action Licensed realtors, or their relatives, snapped up at least a dozen units. The units proved too much for even the developer's own sales team to resist. Trump sales manager Rachel Pai secured an 844-square-foot unit on the 67th floor. Her Trump colleague Eddy Chau bought his own unit on the 27th floor. The 601-square-foot pad is now back on the market asking $977,000. Early birds win big Pre-sale condos can be a lucrative investment. Of the 186 units the Sun obtained sale prices for, the assessed value is now 31% higher on average than what buyers paid for the units. Some really hit it big with 19 units climbing 50% and two units on the 66th floor soaring more than 90% higher than what the buyers had paid. On the flip side, the value of two units dropped 10% below what the buyers had paid. Investors cash in There are 11 units listed for sale at the tower and five that have already been re-sold since November. The sellers profited by an average of 38%, pocketing between $228,000 and $691,000 for their investment. There are 14 more listed for rent and one that has already rented. Rents range from $10,500/month for a unit on the 55th floor to $2,750/month for a unit on the 29th floor, however, some landlords are starting to slash rents. Four out of favour The number four is rare in the building. There’s only one
unit ending in the number four (it’s on the 46th floor). Although most floor numbers from 40 to 49 are included, the 24th, 34th, 44th, 54th and 64th floors are all missing. Posh perks Among the amenities for tower residents are exclusive access to a private jet and access to a chauffeured RollsRoyce. Also on site are Vancouver's first hotel champagne bar and first hotel pool bar. Legendary Hong Kong fine dining restaurant Mott 32 is also opening in the tower.
Gary and Michael Averbach The swankiest unit may belong to a B.C. company called Yankel Investments. The directors of the company include Gary the CEO of Belmont Properties, which manages 22 rental buildings in B.C. The other director is Gary's son Michael, who is the principal of Averbach Mortgages. Assessed at $8,947,000 and with more than 3,252 square feet in living space, the 62nd-floor unit is larger and more valuable than any other condo below the penthouses. The purchase price was $6,288,059. Chin Sun Chan A B.C. company called VSQ Holdings bought a unit on the 67th floor assessed at $3,389,000, the highest floor below the penthouses. Chan, the company's only director, also owns a unit on the 60th floor of the Shangri-La, which is being rented out by the same company managing many of the rentals at the Trump. Chan was featured in a Sun story in 2015 after he bought a home on Burkehill Place in West Vancouver for $1 million over the asking price. Narcis Casal de Fonsdeviela The former Andorran ambassador to Canada has apparently purchased a unit on the 52nd floor for $2,494,695. The purchase was made through a B.C. registered company that has a mailing address in Barcelona. The ambassador was also his country's envoy to the United States and the United Nations. The Fongs A company called KMF Property bought a unit on the 60th floor and one of the company's directors purchased a unit on the 37th floor for a total of $5,672,795. Although the company is registered in B.C., it has strong ties to China. The company's address is a $19.6-million home on Fannin Avenue owned by Sou Lam Fong, the founder of CHTC Fong's Industries, a Hong Kong-based manufacturing company. Sou Lam’s wife, Kam Ming Fong, is a major shareholder of Fong's and a director of KMF Property. CHTC Fong's majority shareholder is the Chinese government. Raymond Ambrose Liang The Vancouver psychiatrist bought three units for a total of $2,394,300 on the 23rd, 27th and 35th floors. Two of the purchases at the tower were made through numbered B.C. companies. Both of those condos have since re-sold for a net profit of $518,600 and a gain of 38%. Liang was fined in 2011 by Revenue Canada after being found guilty of tax evasion for not reporting the income from flipping homes. Anoop Majithia The founder of Plan A Real Estate bought a unit on the 50th Floor with oncologist Sharlene Gill that's now assessed at $2,439,000. Majithia was involved in a legal battle with tenants of an apartment building he purchased in 2014. A month after taking possession, some tenants were evicted and those remaining claimed they were threatened with rent increases. Some evictions were later reversed and tenants were awarded costs after laundry charges were tripled, but they failed to prove allegations the landlord harassed them. The Mossalanejads Armita, Armineh and Ario purchased matching 06 units stacked in a row on the 26th, 28th, 30th, 31st, 32nd and 35th floors. They own two units each in the tower assessed at a total of $5,970,000. Armineh lists her residence as a $6.4-million condo at the Fairmont Pacific Rim, whose owner is Gholamabbas Mosalanejad. Ario owns another condo at the Fairmont Pacific Rim and Armita, a notary, owns one at the Shangri-La. Both were transferred to them from Gholamabbas who lists his occupation as businessman. One of Ario’s 600-square-foot units is listed for rent at $4,100 per month. Bill Streeper The Northern Rockies (formerly Fort Nelson) mayor purchased a unit on the 55th floor assessed at $3,897,000. The purchase was made through a numbered company registered in Alberta. The company lists Streeper as its sole director. Streeper owned an oilfield company and is president of Hardcastle Developments, which is described on its website as one of the largest real estate companies in northeast B.C. John Tu The American billionaire spent $7,611,135 to acquire condos on the 55th, 52nd and 43rd floors, apparently spending more than any of the tower's other buyers. All three condos are now listed to rent for $10,500, $9,500 and $6,000 per month. Forbes pegs the Kingston Technology CEO's current net worth at $5.9 billion landing him at #251 on its list of the world's richest people. Greg Vorwaller The president of Vancouver-based mortgage investment corporation Trez Capital, paid $5,897,900 for a unit on the 66th floor. The purchase was made through a numbered B.C. company of which he and wife Ava are directors. The unit is assessed at $6,139,000. The couple recently moved to Vancouver from Chicago where they sold a condo designed by celebrity designer Nate Berkus for $6.2 million US.