Lottery Corp. seeks builders for new HQ; B.C. farmland values up

Digging in

The BC Lottery Corp. is planning a new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified headquarters for Kamloops.

The government-run casino operator recently issued a request for pre-qualifications from developers with a May 9 deadline to create a shortlist of potential companies to execute the project. Pre-qualified parties will receive the formal request for proposals to design and build a new headquarters of 150,000 to 200,000 square feet just west of its 50-year-old headquarters at 74 West Seymour Street. The new premises would not exceed six storeys and will include a data centre and up to 25,000 square feet of warehouse space.

Background documents indicate the two-storey parkade will remain in service, but the winning bidder for the new headquarters would have to figure out whether to repurpose or demolish the office premises.

The drive for the change, according to the corporation, is the cost of maintaining the existing structure, which lacks the efficiencies new buildings typically have.

“The design of a new facility should create a high-performance building that promotes energy efficiency, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, high building functionality and ultimately seeks to minimize life-cycle costing,” the corporation states.

There is no timeline for the project’s completion.

Pricey dirt

B.C. farmland posted its fifth consecutive year of appreciation as the average value rose 8.2% in 2016, according to Farm Credit Canada (FCC).

The federal agricultural lender bases its estimate of the percentage change on a basket of benchmark properties in regions around the province.

Of course, not all regions experience the same rate of change. According to the FCC, properties in the Lower Mainland increased an average of 17.7% while those in the Okanagan gained just 7.4% and those in the Thompson-Nicola saw no change. Local producers accounted for much of the activity in fastest-growing regions, while prices elsewhere attracted producers from higher-priced areas of the province.

Vancouver Island was notable for its appeal to buyers seeking small acreages and lifestyle properties.

Based on provincewide changes in farmland values over the past decade, a $1,000 slice of B.C. farmland at the beginning of 2007 would be worth $1,535 today.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Institute for Sustainable Food Systems prepared a report for credit union Vancity last year that found small acreages fetch $150,000 to $350,000 an acre in Metro Vancouver, while 20-acre parcels sell for $110,000 to $120,000 an acre.

Bullish prospects

Canada’s sesquicentennial is fuelling Colliers International’s optimism regarding prospects for the country’s hotel sector.

While last year’s national sales volume of $4.1 billion topped the charts, non-traditional deals such as the privatization of InnVest REIT and the $210 million sale of Vancouver-based Coast Hotels Ltd. to APA Hotel Co. of Japan represented 62% of the volume.

The two deals knocked traditional hotel sales in Metro Vancouver down 73%, to a mere $167.5 million. Still, the region remained the second most active market in the country next to Greater Toronto. Both regions posted record annual valuation growth of more than 23%. Colliers expects the trend to continue as the country’s 150th birthday, low dollar and Destination Canada’s push into U.S. markets draw in travellers.

“2017 is shaping up to be another banner one for the hotel industry,” said Robin McLuskie, vice-president, hotels, for Colliers. “We expect foreign capital to keep flowing into our borders.”

This year has seen Delta Land Development Ltd. sell the Rosewood Hotel Georgia for $145 million to Hong Kong investors, while BC Investment Management Corp. announced the billion-dollar sale of SilverBirch Hotels & Resorts to Leadon Investment Inc. Silver Birch’s 26-property portfolio included the Residence Inn by Marriott in Vancouver. •

pmitham@telus.net