TRUMP’S PIL­LAR OF ELITES

Vancouver Sun - - A1 -

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.

Fast facts

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.

No­table buy­ers

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.

GERRY KAHRMANN

SOURCE: B.C. AS­SESS­MENT, B.C. ON­LINE, LAND TI­TLE OF­FICE RE­SEARCH BY SCOTT NEUFELD, SAN­DRA BOUTILIER AND CAR­OLYN SOLTAU

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