Michael Geller explains how Vancouver rezoning plays out on Cambie Corridor ’round and round’
A recent decision of the Land Assessment Appeal Board bears a name esteemed in development circles.
“Yes, that was me,” Michael Geller told the Right when reached by phone for confirmation.
Geller is the guy who did it all.
He is an architect, developer, real estate consultant, educator, policy analyst, media commentator, opinion writer, and more.
Geller and his client, Aria Pacific GP Inc., were appellants in a quasi-judicial case involving the assessment of a development site in Vancouver along the Cambie Corridor.
A new six-story luxury condo development called the Savoy is currently under construction on site at 4240-4262 Cambie Street.
The property previously consisted of two single-family home lots, which Vancouver City Council rezoned for condo development in 2017.
For 2020, the property was valued at $ 27,055,000.
The membership fee was reduced slightly in 2021 to $ 23,118,000.
Geller and Aria Pacific claimed the ratings were too high.
The appellants argued that the valuation should be $ 16 million in 2020, or 40% lower.
For 2021, they suggested $ 19,858,000, or 14% less.
The appraiser told the Appeal Board that the 2020 appraisal can be reduced to $ 24,974,000.
However, the appraiser remained firm on the 2021 appraisal of $ 23,118,000.
Howard Mak, chairman of a Assessment Appeal Board committee, summarized the results of Geller and Aria Pacific.
âThe appellant says he would accept the appraiser’s reduced value for 2020 if his 2021 appraisal for the subject is accepted,â Mak noted in his decision and order dated Dec. 14, 2021.
Rezoning and sale
City of Vancouver records show that a rezoning application was filed in 2016 for the same property at a 4238-4262 Cambie Street address.
Arno Matis Architecture filed the application on behalf of Create Properties Ltd.
So how did the same site end up with Geller’s client, Aria Pacific?
âSeveral years ago,â Geller’s story began, âa number of developers paid, in my opinion, a ridiculous amount of money for these single-family lots along the Cambie Corridor, in the hope that ‘they could be redeveloped into luxury housing. “
âAnd as you probably know,â he continued, âthese lots were worth around $ 3 million, and then when the city put its … [Cambie community] plan in place, the value of these lots has increased dramatically to between $ 8 million and $ 12 million.
âAnd one of my clients bought one of these sites in 2017, hoping they could create a development that would sell for $ 1,400 or $ 1,500 per square foot.
âBut what happened a few years later, the market went from $ 1,400 to $ 1,500 to about $ 1,100 or $ 1,200 a foot.
âBut BC Assessment has not fully recognized the declining market value of property assessments. And so, as a matter of principle, I have recommended my clients to appeal reviews, âGeller explained.
Geller recalled that Aria Pacific had purchased the 4240-4262 Cambie Street development site from Create Properties Ltd. âBefore approval of rezoningâ.
By the way, Geller said it was interesting that Create’s architect at the time, Arno Matis Architecture, worked with other developers with rezoning approvals along the Cambie Corridor.
âAnd then the sites are sold,â he said.
Geller noted that rezoning results in a âsignificant increase in the valueâ of properties and that these zoned lots are sold to âother developersâ.
âAnd it’s happened all along this corridor,â he said.
Geller said Aria Pacific paid “approximately $ 27 million” for the Cambie development site between West 26e and 27e Street.
The development company also bought plans drawn by Arno Matis Architecture, then changed designers to Rafii Architects.
Geller also finds it interesting that there is another development site right next door which has also been rezoned by the City of Vancouver and designed by Arno Matis Architecture.
He noted that this particular property at 4338-4362 rue Cambie is currently for sale.
âI can send it to you if you’re interested, just to show you how it all goes,â Geller said.
Development sites listed
We can recall that the Right reported the same listing of properties for 4338-4362 Cambie Street, which has an asking price of $ 28.8 million.
This development site between West 27e and 28e Avenues was dezoned by Vancouver City Council in 2020.
âIt’s part of the story,â suggested Geller.
On December 5, the Right reported about another Cambie Street development site between King Edward Avenue and West 26e Avenue which was put up for sale.
This one at 4118-4138 Cambie Street, which features a notorious haunted house, has an asking price of $ 26 million. This was dezoned by the city council in 2021.
For orientation, the three development sites, from 4118-4138 Cambie Street to the Aria site at 4240-4262 Cambie Street and 4338-4362 Cambie Street, are all located within a three-block stretch. .
Returning to the Assessment Appeal Board, the Mak committee chairman ordered a reduction in the 2020 assessment of the Aria Pacific development site at 4240-4262 Cambie Street from $ 27,055,000 to $ 24,900,000.
This means that Geller and Aria Pacific got a reduction of almost eight percent.
As for the 2021 valuation of $ 23,118,000, Mak has maintained this valuation.
“They had nominally lowered the appraised value,” noted Geller when he was reached by the Right.
It wasn’t the outcome he and his clients wanted, but it “translates into savings anyway.”
One of the reasons the assessed value is important, Geller explained, is that homeowners also pay additional school tax.
It is the cost of doing business.
And when it comes to Aria and other condominium developers, Geller said things were improving.
âNow what’s interesting to be fair is that the market has picked up and values ââare getting closer to where they were supposed to be, you know, four years ago,â Geller said.