“The slums money makes are far more depressing and disgusting than the ones the absence of money creates.”

“I’ve made it a rule of life never to dislike people simply for what they have — dismissing them for being rich is as unpleasantly irrational as dismissing them for being poor. Neither wealth nor poverty have innate characters; they are both prone to their own turpitudes. But over years of travelling, I’ve discovered the contrary truth that the slums money makes are far more depressing and disgusting than the ones the absence of money creates. And Berkeley Street is a self-made money slum.
I also believe restaurants are a force for good. Nothing polices a street like a neighbourhood bistro, or evokes community and civic pride as a theatre of free assembly. They are society’s social workers, its romance, guidance and business advisers. But it is an incontrovertible truth that the tasteless stew of Berkeley Street has been created by restaurants.
There’s Novikov, with its oriental and Italian kitchens and meat-rack bar; and Nobu, which has gone from being one of the earliest fusion restaurants into an embarrassing playground of entitled youth and socially hapless sportsmen. Then there’s the newly opened Sexy Fish — packed and, as anecdotal gossip has it, with an average table spend north of £1,000. Most recently, Alan Yau has opened his long-anticipated, turgidly gestated restaurant.
As we walked down the road towards it, there was the honk of imperviously parked Mercedes, blacked-out Range Rovers and furious cabbies. The pavement is thronged with manically smiling young women who, while not actually prostitutes, have the look down pat, with smartly streamlined faces and angry mouths, sucking the life out of cigarettes, black eyes sliding over the ranks of young, stateless men dressed in awkward collections of branded expense, guarded and manoeuvred by platoons of doormen, bouncers, bodyguards and muscled maître d’s.”

– from AA Gill reviews Park Chinois, Mayfair W1, Sunday Times UK, 10 Jan 2016

“A vacation city for the world’s rich.. its citizens transformed into modern serfs.”

“Recruiting talent to this city is easy, but retaining it is not. The engine of startups and innovative businesses are its people, and when highly educated folks making six figures still can’t afford to live in your city (and it takes over an hour’s commute to get to downtown from slightly more affordable areas), you simply don’t have the conditions to grow a knowledge economy. Businesses like the one I work for typically move to more welcoming ecosystems, and so too with them will go the people that make up the vibrancy of the city. Indeed since 2012 British Columbia has experienced a net migration loss of young people, largely speculated to be directly a result of housing prices. …
A massive capital injection from abroad makes Vancouverites feel wealthy, while the city is in no real terms wealthier. Talented people continue to leave and with them the future of our city.”

– from The Decline of Vancouver, by Saeid Fard, March 2015 [hattip Zei]

Crackshack at $2.4M? – It’s In The Value of The Land! (‘Value’ as a TRADING CHIP, that is…)

2.398M
“With a $2.398-million asking price, the fixer-upper built in 1930 might seem overvalued.
But in Vancouver’s crazed real estate market, that price would likely be a bargain. The new listing is priced more than $1.1-million under the recent average price for single-family detached houses sold on the city’s west side.
From the street, it looks like a bungalow, but there are two bedrooms upstairs. A mountain view to the north would be possible if a developer were to demolish the home and build a two-storey house. The listing created a sensation on social media last Friday, quickly turning into a stark symbol of just how expensive Vancouver housing has become – a teardown, with the main value in the land.”

G&M, 3 Feb 2016

Iconic Burrard Street Molson Coors Factory Now A Speculative Land Play

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A syndicate of Chinese investors seeks to turn one of Vancouver’s last protected industrial sites, the iconic Molson Coors factory, into “a great sea view apartment development” according to investment documents.

In November 2015, Molson Coors confirmed to Postmedia News the sale of its three-hectare site at the foot of Burrard Bridge to a mystery buyer, for an undisclosed price. Postmedia reported that the sale wouldn’t close until early 2016 and experts estimated the price could have been about $190 million.

Property documents still connect the site to Molson Inc. The site is zoned industrial and protected in that usage by Metro Vancouver’s board and Vancouver city planners, Vancouver’s assistant planning director Kent Munro told The Province on Wednesday.

Munro said the city doesn’t know who the Molson site buyer is and “no one has come in and talked to us.”

Both the city and Metro Vancouver see the site as important for long-term industrial job creation.

Munro said Metro Vancouver would have to approve a residential rezoning before Vancouver council did the same through a public hearing.

“Last year Molson spoke to us before they tried to sell it, about (rezoning) potential, and we gave the same answer,” Munro said.

“It’s in Metro Vancouver’s regional context statement, and the City … don’t have any plans to change it.”

A spokesman said Mayor Gregor Robertson has not received “any new applications” for the Molson site.

But in online advertisements at vansky.com, a Chinese-language site for investors in the Lower Mainland, Sun Commercial Real Estate apparently announces residential plans for the lands with an ad that includes pictures of the brewery site.

“Sun Commercial real estate brewery project recruit shareholders, 330,000 feet of great sea view apartment development,” says an English translation of Sun Commercial’s materials. The plan says small investors are required to contribute $150,000 and “VIP customers” must invest $100 million. However the VIP contribution is already “full,” documents say.

The plan is “zero risk, high return,” the translated Sun Commercial document says, and “existing brewery investment project in full swing … almost nearing completion.” …

In one deal advertised online, Sun Commercial reported buying a Cambie property across from Oakridge for $19 million in July 2013 and selling it for $26 million in October 2013, after holding it for just three months. Kevin Sun is director of Qiji, one of the companies connected to the deal in legal documents.

– from ‘Sea view apartment development’ on tap for Vancouver’s Molson site, Sam Cooper, The Province, 14 Jan 2016 [hat-tip to ‘hello …anybody listening’]

So, a (large) wager based on the belief that the City zoning for this site can be changed or that a greater fool can be convinced that that will be the case. A “speculative land play”, as Sam Cooper puts it in the video. Hats-off to Cooper and The Province for the investigative journalism. – ed.

Addendum:
Here is a Sept 2015 article by Sam Cooper, profiling Julia Lau, apparently one of the players in the Molson speculation.

OK On The Way Up – BC Finance Minister Owns 8 Properties; Warns Against State Intervention In RE Market

Taking action to reduce housing prices in Vancouver could sap the equity people have built up in real estate, British Columbia Finance Minister Mike de Jong warned last year.
The hit from anything the provincial government might do to drop real estate prices in B.C. would be particularly painful for investors like de Jong, who has a personal ownership stake in seven investment properties in Abbotsford, an hour’s drive from Vancouver.
“You’ve got to be careful about intervening, about having the state intervene to try and regulate pricing, or depress pricing,” de Jong said last May as the #Don’tHave1Million campaign drew attention to the negative effects of high house prices in the region.
“Those who are expressing a concern, I think if you really assess what they are seeking, it is a reduction in the value of homes in Vancouver and that will have consequences for a lot of families,” de Jong said.
“If property values in Vancouver were to reduce by, let us say five per cent, that could easily translate into a reduction in equity for families that own homes in Vancouver of 60, 70 or $80,000,” he said.
“All I’m saying is you’ve got to be careful about how you use the tools and levers of taxation, and you have to be clear on what your objective is.” …
… de Jong owned or part-owned seven investment properties in Abbotsford, plus the home he lives in on the family farm where he grew up. It shows he received rental income from all seven of the investment properties.

– from ‘As Housing Prices Soar, Finance Minister Is Well Invested’, The Tyee, Jan 2016

Did you hear any objections from this individual regarding intervention when the state intervened by mispricing risk with preposterously low interest rates and government sponsored mortgages? No, you didn’t. Hypocrisy.
Intervention will not be necessary for the market to (eventually!) implode.
But, if intervention does occur, many will point to it as the cause.
– ed.

You Too Can Lose an Infinite Percentage of your Investment in BC RE !!…

A B.C. developer wants to sell condos in Metro Vancouver’s red hot real estate market to first-time buyers without the cash for a down payment, but not everyone is sure it’s a good idea.
“It’s just a different spin on, ‘How do we provide an affordable home ownership option to buyers who otherwise can’t get into the market?'” says Townline vice-president of marketing Chris Colbeck.
The company is proposing buyers on limited incomes could be allowed to purchase a unit in its Port Moody development for eight percent less than the appraised market value.
The appraisal would be done by an independent third party, allowing the eight per cent to be used as a virtual down payment for a mortgage.
That would mean the bank would be financing 100 per cent of cost for the consumer, says Colbeck.
The idea has already been approved by B.C. Housing, says Colbeck, and Townline is hoping Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) will approve the program as well.
“It’s a partnership we’ve made with B.C. Housing that’s providing us the ability to do this affordability program that hasn’t been done before. They’re the ones that have structured this program,” he says.

– from ‘Condos without down payments could be sold by B.C. developer’, CBC, 12 Jan 2016

The Gentrification of the Mind

“My book is a kind of love letter to the city as it was and before it got overtaken by money. Money, for me, may not immediately kill people in the way terrorism does, but it does certainly change the fabric of daily life in much deeper and more insidious ways. The terrorist may be defeated in 50 or 20 or 10 years, but money is going to be much harder to defeat.”
– Luc Sante, cultural historian, as quoted by Sukhdev Sandhu in The Guardian, 2 Jan 2016

“It doesn’t just effect the price of real estate. It effects the way people think; it causes a kind of ‘Gentrification of the Mind’.”
– Christian Viveros-Fauné, art critic for The Village Voice, paraphrased from a ‘The Conversation’ podcast