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.”
Property, corporate and online documents researched by The Province link Sun Commercial and related numbered companies to Richmond investor Kevin Sun, Vancouver realtor Denise She and vice-president Julia Lau, a former Vancouver realtor.
The company says it brings large and small investors together through “crowdfunding” for projects with massive returns. The Province called vansky.com about the Sun Commercial investor recruitment for the Molson site plan and was directed to call Sun Commercial’s offices.
The Province called Sun Commercial and asked if Kevin Sun, Julia Lau or other individuals could speak to the plan. A message placed through a receptionist was not immediately returned.
Lawrence Lim, president of Mayfair Commercial R.E. in Richmond, has represented Kevin Sun and Denise She in previous deals, including a Coquitlam golf course purchase.
Lim appeared surprised that The Province was aware of Sun Commercial’s Molson site plans, but when told of online documents, he confirmed a deal. “I’m aware of the deal but I can’t comment on it,” Lim said. “There is a twist.”
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.
Another Sun Commercial project researched by The Province, a Metrotown land assembly, involves investors including Julia Lau and Mailin Chen.
Mailin Chen is the newly rich construction tycoon from China who made headlines last year with his purchases of a number of Metro Vancouver homes including a Point Grey mansion for $50-million.