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What’s Happening in B.C.

Western Investor, August  2003

'Perfect storm' spurs Gulf Island development

Developer Bill Grenier explains that a "perfect storm" of converging issues convinced him that this year is the time to proceed with a North Pender Island waterfront development on 200 acres he has owned for more than 20 years.

"We are now seeing the perfect storm," he explained. "It is a historical moment in Canada's housing market. We have a convergence of the lowest mortgage rate in 50 years, a lack of supply because home builders have not been building much in the past few years and pent-up demand from mature consumers who have benefited from the biggest equity growth in history."

Grenier, chair of Pagebrook Inc., has serviced 26 large residential lots on the Island with roads, drilled wells and electricity and telephones for the TyndallWood development. There are 19 waterfront and oceanview lots and seven upland lots. Acreages range in size from 2.3 acres to 8.6 acres surrounded by designated parkland.

Half of the original 200 acres has been donated to the B.C. government for parkland, Grenier explained, which helped to win support of the powerful Islands Trust regional planning board. According to Grenier, the plan also minimizes the impact on environment.

"We have marked and saved eagle nesting trees and convinced the highways department to allow a narrower access road to avoid cutting down trees," he said. In one instance, Grenier convinced provincial highway crews to change the road course to save an ancient arbutus tree. Such attention to environmental detail, he says, makes good business sense. Buyers today, he said, are seeking retreats in the most pristine recreation areas possible.

Lot prices start at $135,000, with larger waterfront lots in the $280,000 range, according to New Westminster's LandQuest Realty Corp., which has the exclusive listing. Two of the lots sold the first day they went on sale, one to a buyer from Los Angeles.

"We expect trophy homes to be built, but some of the lots will be bought for investment," Grenier said. There will be building restrictions to protect buyers: "We don't want someone coming in and building a shack." The waterfront lots, which range from walk-on shoreline to high cliffs, have been configured for custom home development, he said.

Grenier, 67, said he originally bought the acreage to leave to his children but, after changes to inheritance taxes, he said "it got to the point I would be leaving an enormous tax burden. They would have had to sell it to pay the taxes."

The TyndallWoods project is considered one of the last and largest waterfront developments in the Gulf Islands, according to Rudy Nielsen of Niho Land and Cattle Company, which is handling marketing and consulting on the project.

Kamloops-based Pagebrook is also the developers of the Kamloops on the Lake Resort at Six Mile Ranch, as well as large condominium projects in Vancouver and Toronto. TyndallWoods is being developed by Penderland Holdings Inc., a Pagebrook subsidiary.