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The 'iconic' family that helped build up Whistler and Metro Vancouver

The development projects that bear the Bosa brand will place the family at the foundation of regional growth for 'decades to come.'
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A photo of the Bosa Properties project Fifteen Fifteen on Alberni Street in downtown Vancouver

The number of companies associated with the Bosa name is fitting for a family that has shaped the Metro Vancouver landscape to the extent they have.

The sheer number of projects associated with the family, as well as its reputation as a leader in British Columbia’s development industry, has positioned the Bosa brand to be “front and centre in construction and development for decades to come,” said Chris Gardner, president of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of B.C.

He described the family as iconic.

“They are giants in construction and development. They really are some of the founders of the industry in B.C. Everything that they’ve done is about the story of construction, about individuals who have an entrepreneurial spirit.”

Last month, BIV profiled the families behind the Aquilini Investment Group and Northland Properties as part of a feature series on successful, multi-generational B.C. business families.

Real estate has been key to the rise and success of the Aquilinis, the Gaglardis and the Bosas.

Bosa Development Corp. has built more than 20,000 homes and have another 9,000 that are either being designed or are under construction. The company also has a large portfolio of commercial space, according to their website, and is active in B.C., Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California.

Bosa Properties Inc. – another development company associated with the family name – has 22,000 homes already built or in the pipeline, as well as six million square feet of commercial space under their management, according to the company.

In 2023, Bosa Properties announced their entrance to the U.S. market through the subsidiary IPB Properties and are currently leasing residential space in their REN project, located in downtown Seattle. The company also has a mixed-use project “coming soon” in Nashville, though no specific details are currently available on the company’s website.

“It’s just the name that is iconic. There’s a handful of construction companies and builders who helped shape the skyline of Vancouver, and the construction industry in this province, and they’re in that group,” said Gardner.

Both Bosa Development and Bosa Properties are active in the residential, retail, office, hotel and industrial markets. Bosa Development also owns Mammoth Studios in Burnaby and North Shore Studios in North Vancouver.

“These are leaders who have had a massive impact on the region. You just can’t go many miles without driving by a Bosa building. They have had and continue to have a huge impact on the community,” said Ryan Beedie, president of development company Beedie.

Both Bosa Development and Bosa Properties declined to participate in the story.

An empire so big, it causes confusion

Before they began building expansive projects across Metro Vancouver and throughout North America, the Bosa family got their start in construction.

In 1966, brothers Natale (Nat) and Arturo began Bosa Brothers Construction. The ownership structure changed over the years with other brothers entering and exiting the company, according to court documents.

Two decades later, Nat founded Bosa Development. Robert Bosa, Nat’s brother and former business partner at Bosa Brothers Construction, founded what would become Bosa Properties in 1991.

Both Nat and Robert passed the leadership of their companies to their sons. Colin Bosa, Robert’s son, has been part of Bosa Properties since 1993 and Ryan Bosa, Nat’s son, took over as president of Bosa Development in 2017.

These two development companies are just the tip of the iceberg.

IPB Group is a “family-held group of companies” that includes Bosa Properties and its U.S subsidiary IPB Properties, in addition to equity investment firm IPB Investments, founded in 2023. Bosa Construction, founded by Robert Bosa, and Axiom Builders also fall under the family group of companies, according to Bosa Properties.   

The Robert Bosa Foundation is the family foundation for the IPB Group.

Nat has also contributed to philanthropic endeavours such as The Nat and Flora Centre for Film and Animation at Capilano University, Monarch School in San Diego – which serves unhoused grade-school students and their families – and Lions Gate Hospital, according to the NAIOP Vancouver Chapter.

Appia Developments Ltd. is part of the family’s portfolio of companies, too, and was founded by Nat’s son Jim Bosa in 1991, though it is marketed as a separate development company.

“Those of us who’ve known them and known of them for a long time, still get confused between all the different companies,” said Michael Geller, a real estate consultant and developer who has worked with various members of the Bosa family.

He added that a story about the Bosa family would be incomplete without a reference to Nat’s “legendary profanity.”

Confusion around the Bosa name and brand came to a head in 2022 when Bosa Development launched an intellectual property lawsuit in Canada and the U.S. against Bosa Properties. The suit centred on trademark infringement and counterfeiting following Bosa Properties’ entry into the U.S. market.

Court filings cited issues with consumers being misled due to assumptions that the two companies share common ownership and history, and included an instance where a subcontractor contacted the wrong Bosa company.

Canadian court documents list nearly a dozen defendants, including nine organizations featuring the name Bosa.

“It’s a well-known brand, it’s a well-known family, and often when there’s so many people sometimes these things can get diluted,” said Anne McMullin, president and CEO of the Urban Development Institute.

But in the case of Bosa, and across the companies that bear the brand, she said that there is respect for what the name represents.

There is “a strong loyalty to the brand and understanding of what the name represents, and there’s respect for that,” she added.

A lasting legacy through decades of projects

Bosa Development and Nat have been credited with building up Whistler from 1984 to 1996, thanks to multiple mixed-use developments that added 877 units to the community, according to the company’s website.

“These developments formed the solid foundation that the Benchlands, Village North and Blueberry Hill neighbourhoods were built upon, and set the stage for the community’s dynamic growth,” reads the Bosa Development website.

Nat has also been awarded for his revitalization efforts in San Diego. Bosa Development’s website lists eight major developments completed, in addition to two currently under construction, totalling approximately 2,200 homes.

On the Bosa Properties side, Geller referenced Fifteen Fifteen in downtown Vancouver as a notable project because of its unique design, which features portions of the building sticking out of the main frame. There are 190 units in the building – which was developed alongside Kingswood Properties – and it has more than 65 unique floorplans.

Kingswood and Bosa Properties are also partnering on the 21.4-hectare Sea and Sky project in Squamish, which spans seven phases and plans to deliver 1,144 strata and 295 rentals homes, according to Bosa Properties.

“Our partnership is not just between companies but between two families,” Lorne Segal, president of Kingswood, said in a statement to BIV.

“We are friends and I could not imagine a better relationship in business. We have contracts in place, but it might as well be a handshake. And having Bosa’s construction expertise in every project adds a real comfort level to the process.”

Last November, Bosa Properties announced their Solhouse 6035 project in Burnaby. The 50-storey building is set to include two structures: A condominium tower with 411 strata units and a podium that features 68 below-market rental homes. Construction is expected to begin in 2024 with targeted completion in 2028.

A history of hospitality

The Bosa name has been long been associated with hospitality projects and hotel renovations. Notably, these include a $60 million venture by Nat, alongside his wife Flora, to revitalize the iconic Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria.

Bosa Properties recently announced the redevelopment of the Listel Hotel in downtown Vancouver as part of a joint venture with the Listel Hospitality Group. The hotel redevelopment is set to deliver 174 hotel rooms and 126 purpose-built rental homes, both located in the same tower.

The project addresses the lack of hotel accommodations and purpose-built rental homes in Vancouver, said Bosa Properties in a Jan. 22 announcement.

In New Westminster, Bosa Development is working on the Pier West project to build 665 new homes along the city’s waterfront. It was reported in the fall of last year that the 53- and 43-storey towers reached their maximum height and are now the two tallest buildings in the city.

The 53-storey west tower is set for completion in fall 2024 and the 43-storey east tower is aiming for completion in early 2025.

The project was described by Bosa Development as “one of Canada’s most complex constructions in the history of residential development” due to the company having to build portions of the project underwater.

“In reflecting on the Bosa family’s enduring legacy marked by transformative developments, we, as contributors to the real estate landscape, take pride in how they have shaped our city in impactful ways,” Scott Cressey, president of Cressey Development Group, told BIV.

“Over the years, we’ve drawn inspiration from the Bosa Family’s commitment to quality and visionary design.”

—With files from Theresa McManus and Tyler Orton.

This article is the third in a BIV series that profiles some of B.C.’s biggest multi-generational family business empires. The first profiles – on the Aquilinis and the Gaglardis – can be read at biv.com.

clwilson@glaciermedia.ca

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