Vancouver Commercial Real Estate Podcast

Providing real-time insight into today's commercial real estate industry.

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December 15, 2021
VCREP #31: The Largest Real Estate Transaction in 2021 – $300,000,000 with Steve Jedreicich and Andy Tam at Keltic Canada Development

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Have you ever wondered what goes into making a $300 million real estate decision? From Keltic Development Canada, Cory and Adam welcome Steve Jedreicich, Senior VP of Development, and Andy Tam, Senior VP of Business Development, to discuss their recent 27-acre acquisition in Richmond, which tops off this year as the biggest transaction of 2021 at a whopping $300,000,000! Located next to the Olympic Oval in Richmond, this gargantuan development site ticks off all the boxes when it comes to transforming and putting your stamp on a city. Get ready and buckle-up as Steve and Andy discuss the process of the acquisition, some of the challenges faced when dealing with such a large parcel of land, and what lies ahead for such a massive decade-long build.

Who is Steve Jedreicich?

I grew up in Queens, New York and moved to Vancouver when I met my wife. I got into the development business here and recently joined Keltic Canada Development for this amazing opportunity. When I first moved to Vancouver, I saw a lot of cranes and thought there was going to be a lot of opportunity here. I was very impressed by the nature in Vancouver and saw a city that was up and coming back in 2005. We’ve achieved numbers that are matching New York’s numbers. It’s very impressive and I think I made the right choice.

I have a degree in architecture and thought I’d be an architect for my entire life. When I moved to Vancouver, I fell into development. A recruiter from Polygon called me and threw me into it. I totally loved it!

Who is Andy Tam?

I was born in Hong Kong and moved to Vancouver in the mid 70’s. I’ve watched Vancouver grow from humble beginnings to now a global power player. I’ve worked for multiple developers in town and am now excited to be working with Keltic.

I studied economics at UBC and marketing at BCIT. When I came out of school, real estate seemed like the logical choice in Vancouver. I was a commercial broker for a bit and the next step was to get into development.

Who is Keltic Canada Development?

Keltic Canada Development had their first acquisition in 2016 and has built in Richmond, along the Cambie Corridor and in North Vancouver. 2022 is a big closing year for Keltic. They first started here when the owner visited Vancouver and fell in love with the city. He wanted to invest in a quality development company in Vancouver. We’re invested heavily in the city for the next few decades. We call ourselves a 100% Canadian company and we’re here for the long term.

How did Keltic’s $300,000,000 transaction happen?

In the spring, we were approached by a broker about this land parcel. We looked into it very carefully and looked into rezoning for multi-use. We felt confident that the rezoning would happen or that we could rebuild as an industrial zone. At this point in the process, we can only talk about our intent for the project; nothing has been approved yet. We are committed to the community and are finishing another project in Richmond right now. We thought this $300 million purchase would be a way to put Keltic on the map.

Did Keltic’s $300 million deal fall apart a few times?

There were a few stumbles; I believe insurance was a problem because of the flooding. Our finance and acquisition team did a phenomenal job ensuring the deal went through in the end. With big deals, there are always bumps along the road. And 27 acres, or 1.1 million square feet of land, is huge. We’re creating a micro-city in Richmond.

What is Keltic Canada Development’s intent for the 27 acre site in Richmond?

We’re looking at multiple uses from rental, residential, commercial, some industrial, low income rental, etc. to meet the needs of people in Richmond and the Lower Mainland. The site is strategically located with access to the airport and downtown. It’s very exciting to be working on something with so many uses that can all be integrated together. We’re wanting to build a 6.3 acre park to give back to the city.

What challenges do you foresee for Keltic’s $300 million site in Richmond?

I don’t see challenges; I see commitments on all sides to see something through. Right now it’s a very boring warehouse district. We’re excited to create a destination in Richmond. Everything will be there – it won’t just be where people live but where other people will want to come.

When developing a site, do you draw inspiration from other communities?

Richmond is a very diverse city with residents from all over the world. Those people want the amenities that they’ve seen elsewhere in Richmond. We want to bring all of those things into this unique site. We’re so excited and have ideas like including a farmer’s market or night market. We’re interviewing international architects to help us with the master plan and design.

Why is Richmond a good place to develop real estate?

Richmond is just a hop and a skip away from Vancouver and a lot of people go from other cities to Richmond to shop, dine and meet friends. We’re creating a destination for everyone in the Lower Mainland.

When I worked with Polygon, I did a lot of work in Richmond and have a deep love for Richmond. I’m really excited to get back into the city and connect with my friends at City Hall.

What is the future of Richmond’s real estate market?

This 27 acre site is going to be a multi-year project and we have a lot of work ahead of us. Hopefully we get back to the immigration levels we had pre-covid. Those people have to live somewhere and Richmond is a great choice. I think that will drive a lot of growth. We’re excited for people to call this place home.

Richmond isn’t without its challenges. The airport is very close and flooding is a concern. We’re limited in height with the flight path and limited in depth with the water table. But I feel confident that what we’ve purchased here can work. I know what we need to do here and it’s looking pretty good.

We’ll be doing strata and low-end rental, and possibly senior housing too. We’ll also be doing concrete and wood frame buildings. So the levels of affordability are across the map. We hope that we can attract all kinds of buyers and residents to enjoy this area.

What is next for Keltic Canada Development?

There are some projects we can’t talk about yet; we’ve purchased some significant parcels in industrial, warehouse, retail and residential in Ladner and Vancouver. The next big one is O2, which is a Metrotown tower that we hope to launch by March 2022. That will be 234 units of strata residential with a small rental parcel of 54 units, which we hope to coordinate on with BC Housing. It’s currently a rental site so we’re working with tenants to help relocate them for the next 2.5 years and then move them back in, if they wish to.

What advice do you have for people looking to enter the real estate industry?

Get in now. Get into the market now and worry about it later. Don’t give up and always look for another opportunity or alternate solution. Fake it until you make it.

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Vancouver Commercial Real Estate Podcast

For all the curious minds interested in commercial real estate investing, grab a coffee and pull up a chair because we have exclusive stories and tips from commercial real estate brokers, investors, developers, economists, urban planners, and everyone in-between. From the successes and failures to the motivations and lessons learned, the Vancouver Commercial Real Estate Podcast is your insight into commercial real estate in Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna, and beyond.

What's the best real estate market to invest in? What are the commercial real estate asset classes and property types? Hosted by Cory Wright, founder of William Wright Commercial, and co-hosts Adam and Matt Scalena of the Vancouver Real Estate Podcast, our podcast opens the door to real estate investing for everyone from beginner investors to experienced real estate professionals. New episodes are released every Tuesday. Follow the Vancouver Commercial Real Estate Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or your favourite streaming platforms.

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This communication is not intended to cause or induce breach of an existing agency agreement. E&OE: All information contained herein is from sources deemed reliable, and have no reason to doubt its accuracy; however, no guarantee or responsibility is assumed thereof, and it shall not form any part of future contracts. Properties are submitted subject to errors and omissions and all information should be carefully verified. All measurements quoted herein are approximate.