New Continental Development (NCD) is proposing to build an education campus geared for international students on three large parcels in North Richmond.
The sites for the $130-million ‘New Continental Education City’ are located on the east side of No. 3 Road between Bridgeport Way and Sea Island Way, just south of the Richmond Night Market.
According to the rezoning application being considered by the City of Richmond, there will be a two-phased multi-building complex at the mixed-use redevelopment, which includes institutional, commercial, and student hospitality uses.
The southeastern parcel will have two towers reaching 12 storeys in height, with a podium that consists of restaurant, office, and classroom space for 1,000 students in one tower and student hotel and convenience retail uses in the other tower.
There will be over 300 student hotel rooms, with a capacity of up to 900 students, within the southeastern and northwestern parcels. These rooms are meant to “provide unique affordable temporary accommodation for students enrolled in educational programs.”
Each room is under 500 sq. ft. in size and consists between two and three bedrooms, plus living and study areas and a bathroom.
Student hotel amenities and common spaces include a reception area, student activities centre, fitness and wellness centre, student lounge, meeting space, and IT networking space.
On the central parcel, an 11-storey “multi-cultural centre” will contain a 95-room boutique hotel to accommodate visiting scholars, accompanying parents, and overnight tourists. It will also have a food court, ground-level retail, lounge space, laundry facilities, and a multi-function ballroom for up to 300 people.
“The complex will provide a one-stop solution to students by offering a safe, secure, and convenient environment to study, socialize and stay. It will integrate quality education resources and provide top-notch educational services to international students,” reads NCD’s description of its campus, which will offer both short-term and long-term programs such as seasonal camps, ESL courses, and certificates and diplomas.
“Meanwhile, the single centralized location will also attract educators and education service firms to do business in an education-centric environment,” the description continues.
NCD aims to partner with established educational institutions in China to turn its campus into “a home away from home for international students and contribute towards making Vancouver a stronger international education hub and leader in Canada.”
Altogether, the project has a floor area of 303,000 sq. ft., which is comprised of 10,500 sq. ft. of retail and restaurant space, 191,000 sq. ft. of hotel space, 50,500 sq. ft. of office space, and 50,500 sq. ft. of commercial and university education space. There will be about 400 parking spaces to support the activity generated by the campus.
However, the project’s future is unclear as its proponents are currently facing legal action from one of the largest private education and student housing groups in Canada.
In December 2017, Vancouver-based CIBT Education Group announced its subsidiary, Global Education City (GEC) Management Corp., is seeking an injunction action against NCD for using GEC trademarks and “for the tort of passing off.”
“GEC in its claim alleges that NCI obtained inside information about GEC’s business while negotiating a potential joint venture, and used that information and the name ‘Global Education City’ to solicit unsuspecting investors, international students and business opportunities,” reads a release.
CIBT also alleges NCD does not have any experience with building and operating student housing in Canada and is not a registered nor licensed school with any regulatory body in Canada or China.
GEC is no longer pursuing a partnership with NCD, which is “going so far as to propose setting up its facilities within two city blocks of one of GEC’s properties in Richmond.” The company’s planned location is on Capstan Way.
Several GEC projects are planned for the Vancouver region, including sites near Langara College and in Surrey, where the company is proposing to build a $230-million, 50-storey campus with classrooms, student residences, and a hotel.
Canada, especially urban centres like Metro Vancouver, are seeing a significant uptick in international students from countries like China, Mexico, and Brazil due to federal policies that encourage students to come to the country for their studies. In 2014, the federal government set a goal to double the number of international students over an eight-year timeline.
NCD’s redevelopment is one of many major projects planned for the No. 3 Road corridor between Bridgeport Station and Richmond-Brighouse Station.
This includes: the $4-billion commercial and entertainment centre redevelopment of the Richmond Night Market; the International Trade Centre with office and a 110-room Opus Hotel; a new neighbourhood for up to 16,000 people around the Canada Line’s future Capstan Way Station; the mixed-use redevelopment of Lansdowne Centre into 24 towers with housing, retail, and office; and Atmosphere mixed-use redevelopment with 600 homes, tech incubator space, office, and retail at the southwestern corner of Alderbridge Way and No. 3 Road.