A KPMG report promoting the construction of a subway to UBC provides some insights into potential First Nations–controlled real-estate projects on Vancouver’s West Side.
In late February, Mayor Gregor Robertson and UBC president Stephen Toope released The UBC–Broadway Corridor: Unlocking the Economic Potential, which identified a number of possible developments that could increase demand for transit.
One site that has already received some attention is Block F, which is located along University Boulevard close to the University Golf Club. The Musqueam First Nation received this 8.5-hectare piece of the University Endowment Lands in a deal with the B.C. government in 2007.
“The only restriction on this land is that 1.2 hectares will need to remain as public parkland,” the KPMG report states. “The balance, 7.3 hectares, will be available for development consistent with adjacent land use.”
According to the report, “first indications are that up to 1,400 residential units could be built on this site along with a small amount of commercial space”. This will be done “in concert” with UBC proceeding with the development of additional family housing at Acadia Park over the next 15 years.
The KPMG report also points out that the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations have all laid claim to the Jericho Lands, a 32-hectare parcel owned by the federal and provincial governments located between West 4th and West 8th avenues west of Alma Street. The Department of National Defence controls over half of the site. West Point Grey Academy is on part of the provincial portion.
In addition, KPMG notes that the Squamish First Nation is planning to build two condominium towers at the western end of the Burrard Bridge.
That’s not the band’s only project. On March 12, the Squamish Oceanfront Development Corporation announced that it has received “multiple expressions of interest” from local, regional, and international companies in the Oceanfront Lands south of downtown Squamish. This came after it sought partners to “purchase or participate” in the former heavy-industrial site. The First Nations–owned developer has a 20-year plan to create a complete community, which will include a hotel, 1,136 residential units, a cruise-ship terminal, and a commercial component.
Meanwhile, the Tsawwassen First Nation has begun developing its 724-hectare site north of Highway 17 between 52nd Street and Deltaport. The residential component will include up to 1,800 homes, with half being detached dwellings. There’s also a plan for 1.8-million square feet of office, retail, and entertainment space.
On the North Shore, the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation has been in the real-estate business for many years through its majority ownership of real-estate company Takaya Developments. For the past 15 years, Takaya has been developing homes at Raven Woods, along Dollarton Highway on the way to Deep Cove.