Chinese developer buys Canadian ghost town

Updated: 2015-01-23 05:30

By Wang Ru(China Daily Canada)

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A Chinese real estate company recently bought a "ghost town" in British Columbia, Canada.

John Lovelace of Sutton Seafair Realty, the real-estate agency based in Richmond, BC, announced on its official website on Jan 2 that Zhong Ya Group Hebei Canada-China Co, the company from China’s Hebei province, bought Bradian, an abandoned town located in the Bridge River Valley north of Whistler.

The ghost town named Bradian, a 20 hectare community once built for a successful gold-mining operation, with streets, fire hydrants, vacant lots, and all of its 22 homes, was vacated in the 1970s after mining waned.

"We had an unbelievable response from potential buyers all over the world," said Lovelace in the official news release. "But at the end of the day we feel that the Chinese company will be a good fit.

"The company told us they plan to rehabilitate the town but I think they are prepared to take the time to plan everything out first," he said. "That planning process will undoubtedly take considerable time," he added.

Michael Mills, the spokesperson for the Bradian town project, speaking on behalf of the real estate agency, told the Huffington Post that the company would start to rebuild and upgrade the infrastructure in the first stage of the development.

Last August, the Globe and Mail said in a report, citing the agency, that "any buyer would face a lot of work upgrading the property and its fixture."

The infrastructure, such as plumbing and electricity, dates back to the 1930s when they were installed. Any customer would have to spend more money to deal with these issues than to buy the town.

Lovelace said that buyer interest was evenly split between domestic and foreign investors but he saw a changing trend in Asian buyers.

The new wave of buyers are getting more sophisticated, and they are looking at investing outside of places like Richmond and West Vancouver. Now they are looking at properties all over BC like farms, ranches, and businesses, and in this case an entire town.

The realty agency, as its website shows, is going to hold a China and BC Investment Expo on Feb 21, and has now opened registration to Chinese investors.

The upcoming expo which advertised itself as "get out of town for highest and best returns" will have a number of investment project for the investors from China, for instance a cereal crop farmland, blueberry farms, industrial parks and more ghost towns.

Lovelace said it was exciting to see fresh money come into the rural areas of BC because he thinks that initiatives such as the Bradian purchase might kick-start northern economies.

Chinese investors in recent years have become the major force of foreign investment in the real-estate market in BC province.

Vancouver has been seeing heavy investment in recent years from tens of thousands of investor-class immigrants from the Chinese mainland, who have viewed the city as an ideal place to park their capital in luxury property.

According to Macdonald Realty Ltd., one of the largest real-estate companies in BC which has more than 1,000 agents and staff, 33.5 per cent of the 531 single family homes sold by its Vancouver offices in 2013 went to people with ties to China.