Hungerford Properties, which scooped up one of South Vancouver’s last remaining major retail-industrial sites, is looking to start work on demolishing the old derelict Dueck dealership and its associated buildings at the former Walmart site on southeast Marine as soon as possible, said Michael Hungerford, a partner in the family development company.
“If you Google Earth, you can see the roof has caved in (at the old Dueck structure) and it is not a safe building,” he said, adding he is hopeful the company will be able to remove the structures in the near future.
The transaction between Walmart and Hungerford for the 12.5 acres was a private one with the property not publicly listed for sale. While the sale price was not disclosed, the B.C. Assessment Authority sets the land at 86 Southeast Marine Dr. as $46.4 million as of July 2017.
Walmart had originally assembled the whole site of miscellaneous buildings plus Dueck’s area by 2008, but at that time was unable to get City of Vancouver approval, which would have allowed it to build a large warehouse and retail outlet.
As a result, the site has been sitting inactive and deteriorating for more than a decade.
How fast Hungerford Properties moves on the site remains in the city’s hands.
“We are working with the city,” Hungerford said.
At the same time Hungerford has purchased the old Walmart site, it also opted to buy the KIA dealership site at 396 Southwest Marine Dr., only a few blocks away. The three-acre site bounded by Yukon street on the west side has an assessed land value of $24.3 million as of July 2017, double the 2016 assessed figure.
The site is located next door to the Marine Gateway Canada Line and across SW Marine from the large Concord Pacific residential development with a 21-storey tower and 27-storey tower in progress and expected to be complete in 2019. The Concord project joins Intracorp’s MC2 and Onni’s Northwest residential and commercial projects at the Cambie and Marine junction.
Hungerford said his family is “a long-standing Vancouver family familiar with the neighbourhood” and was aware that the KIA site was on the market, and redevelopment would fit with surrounding development around the Cambie corridor.
“We were aware of the long-term changes that were going on for that area,” he said.
The KIA site lies within the city’s Cambie corridor plan under the section titled Marine Landing, which describes a central Marine Gateway Canada Line hub and a stepping off point for mixed use and residential in the area but also with consideration to preserve surrounding industrial land.
Both sites lie within the City of Vancouver’s designed South Vancouver industrial area, which stretches from the Fraser River on the south to Marine Drive on the north and on the west to just past Granville and on the east to just past Knight street. The area represents one-third of the city’s industrial land and employs approximately 10,000, according to a city report.
The KIA site, now a retail auto dealership, is expected to need rezoning, Hungerford said.
“We will be working with the city within the community plan framework,” he said, adding the development company is just commencing discussions with the city to determine what should be built onsite. “It is important to get it right.”
The former Walmart site will not require rezoning from its light industrial designation but also doesn’t fall into any specific community plan for that area as it’s located further east of the Cambie corridor area development plan.
“At this point,” said Hungerford, “we are looking at uses that are consistent with the zoning.”
He said given the location and the rarity of the size there exists “exciting” opportunities.
“We are eager to talk business and listen to their requirements and come up with a plan that is going to be supported by the community to provide employment and industrial density,” he states.
The city zoning for light industrial includes sectors such as cultural and recreational, manufacturing and services for outright approvals but also provides conditional approvals for some institutional and further manufacturing (such as breweries). It also provides for general office space including digital entertainment and information communications technologies but not offices used by lawyers, real estate or travel agencies.
“The site is zoned I-2, which allows for industrial or other service employment opportunities in building forms generally up to 100 ft. and with a maximum density of 3.0 FSR,” said Ellie Lambert, communications manager for the city. “The industrial nature of the area was affirmed in a 2009 report to council which underscored the importance of industrial lands in Vancouver as a critical and necessary component of both the city and the regional economy.”
Hungerford Properties would also be permitted to build large format retail outlets under the city’s large format area policy zoning which provides for large retail outlets such as Canadian Superstore (east of Main) and Canadian Tire retail development nearby but only for new such construction facing Marine Drive.
“In the coming months the city will be launching an employment lands study which will review industrial lands such as this plot,” said Lambert.
“I believe that one of the objectives this review of employment lands by the city is to provide a healthy mix of employment and density and enhance sustainable development,” Hungerford said.
The Cambie corridor plan also calls for development of green areas and connections to the Fraser River.
The South Vancouver neighbourhood is one of the fastest growing in the city and has grown by 20 per cent in the last five years and is projected to see additional population growth of approximately 12 per cent by 2021 and 28 per cent by 2026.
The growth of the area has not escaped the eye of the real estate industry.
“The completion of the transit station, as well as the highly successful residential, mixed-use hub surrounding it, has created a push for further densification in the area to service new residents, workers and visitors,” said Darren Cannon, executive vice-president at Colliers.
High calibre tenants like Intel Canada, Townline Homes and the City of Vancouver have already secured larger blocks of spaces in this neighbourhood.
“The full spectrum of uses in this neighbourhood makes it a prime example of intelligent densification that all municipalities in Greater Vancouver should look to emulate,” said Matthew MacLean, senior vice-president at Cushman and Wakefield.