The international real estate company marketing the Squamish oceanfront anticipates attracting nibbles from five parties interested in helping develop the property.
Last week, Cushman and Wakefield put out a request for expressions of interest on the 59-acre site in the heart of Squamish. Through a wholly-own subsidiary — Squamish Oceanfront Development Corporation (SODC) — the District of Squamish (DOS) has pushed for construction of a mixed-use community on municipally owned, former industrial lots.
“The comment back is they hope to get five,” Bill McNeney, Squamish Oceanfront Development Corporation (SODC) chair, said of Cushman and Wakefield. “It would be great if they got more.”
The idea is to cast a broad net and see what turns up, he said. Cushman and Wakefield will look over the responses, compiling a list of questions to further flush out applicants' proposals, McNeney said.
On Monday (Jan. 28), Squamish resident Mario Gomes was busy piecing together his expression of interest. The owner of Valkyries Development said he is touching bases with Brazilian investors to come up with a plan.
It's too early to say whether the entire oceanfront will be undertaken as one project or broken out into individual components, Gomes said.
“I understand there is flexibility,” he said. “If we are interested in the whole thing, there is always a possibility to get other interested parties. I think they (SODC) are also open for that. The end results might be better.”
For several months, Cushman and Wakefield has run a “soft” marketing campaign on the oceanfront. Gomes was the only individual to sign a non-disclosure agreement to access an electron library holding all the property's history, including the background to approximately $45 million spent on environmental investigations on the former chlor-alkali plant.
The SODC is coming up with a structure to weigh the expression of interests, McNeney said. The themes run parallel to the property's sub-area plan — community first, a lively oceanfront and inspired and sustainable living. Development should use “green” technology and improve the community's economic vitality, McNeney said.
“[The oceanfront] will be the game changer that pulls people to live downtown,” he said. “That is the vitalization the downtown needs.”
Cushman and Wakefield are hunting for a buyer who is willing to build sooner rather than later, McNeney added.
“The fear was the only interest would be somebody who wanted to land-bank it,” he said.
The request for expressions of interest closes on Feb. 6. McNeney said he expects to have a list of serious contenders by mid-February.