A redevelopment that provides housing for international students could be one of the first tower projects within Vancouver’s emerging Oakridge Municipal Town Centre outside of the Oakridge Centre shopping mall property.
CIBT Education Group recently acquired three properties near the southeast corner of the intersection of Cambie Street and West 42nd Avenue — just east of the shopping mall, and a short city block away from the area’s Canada Line station. The site is behind the single-storey commercial building that is currently occupied by an HSBC location.
According to CIBT, the $30.3 million purchase for the properties, which are single-family dwellings, are for the eventual development of a $103-million, 18-storey tower with 125,000-sq-ft of floor area for up to 430 student beds.
The project will be owned by CIBT subsidiary Global Education City (GEC) and named GEC Oakridge, formerly referred to as GEC Langara.
This cancels the company’s planned purchase of two lots next to Langara-41st Avenue Station for a $63-million, 12-storey redevelopment with 63,000-sq-ft of floor area for 220 beds, as GEC Oakridge would provide a larger scale project and presents better financial return opportunities for the company’s investors.
GEC Oakridge has yet to enter the formal rezoning application process, but the proposed height and usage is permitted under the municipal government’s Cambie Corridor Plan, which calls for towers reaching up to 330 ft outside the shopping mall property in this particular area.
A timeline has not been provided by CIBT for the project.
CIBT has been rapidly expanding its GEC brand in Metro Vancouver in recent years, but its largest projects have yet to be completed.
Construction began late last year on Atmosphere, a mixed-use, multi-tower residential and commercial development near Lansdowne Station in Richmond. The GEC Richmond portion of this redevelopment will consist of 466 student housing beds and 127,000-sq-ft of office and educational space.
Another project in Surrey’s Whalley district, dubbed GEC Education Mega Centre, will occupy the entirety of a 626-ft-tall, 55-storey tower — the second tallest building in Metro Vancouver. This $230-million project will have five floors of academic space, a 192-unit short-stay student hotel, and 264 student rental housing apartments.
“While Metro Vancouver is currently experiencing a slowdown in the residential housing market, the rental housing shortage is considered to be in crisis mode which has prompted continued appreciation in the market value of our GEC rental real estate portfolio,” said Toby Chu, Chairman, President and CEO of CIBT.
“Our strategy is to expand our education platform, continue scaling our bed count with our large pipeline of students, collect attractive rental returns, and finally exit when the next real estate economic cycle returns. We plan to repeat the process toward achieving our next milestone of $2 billion of GEC branded properties.”