The buyer is Hui Xiang International Realty Developments Ltd., a B.C. incorporated company with directors who list their address in Wenshan, a city in China’s southwestern province of Yunnan, which borders Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam. It’s also the location of their Wenshan Huixiang Real Estate Company, a former auto parts maker turned property developer.
The sale offers a more detailed glimpse at one example of the oft-referenced but faceless mainland Chinese investor at the heart of the debate over Vancouver housing affordability.
It also set the bar for other land assembly sales on this part of Granville Street, said Macdonald Realty agent William Lew, who is listing a row of “up to 11 houses” farther south between 49th and 52nd Avenues. To the north, Dexter Associates Realty agent Surinder Holat is offering a block of six homes between 45th and 43rd Avenues.
The City and its leaders are faced with an unpalatable choice:
On one hand, it makes sense for the City to consider rezoning this arterial for higher density housing – indeed, it’s a stated strategy, and there are already precedents elsewhere along Oak and Granville.
But if the City accedes to a request to do so here, after the properties have been assembled at high prices, it will facilitate speculation throughout the city. Worse, it unleashes a xenophobic reaction: ‘zoning in Vancouver is now being directed from China!’
If it says no to considering a rezoning, as the planning director has done, then the properties may simply be held vacant and decaying.
Overgrown lots will then remind thousands of passers-by everyday that housing is being bought and sold by speculative interests outside the city who seem only to care for the highest dollar and little for local values. They will be constant reminders of the affordability crisis. They will be an indicator that Vancouver is a pawn in a global property game. And if they remain unmaintained, evidence that City Hall cannot even enforce its own bylaws and Council is unable to do the minimum we expect of it.
That is disastrous politics, and opens the door to those who would exploit the underlying prejudices not very far below the surface.