Cressey buys controlling stake in strata that failed in court to wind up

Owners who opposed selling homes had won in B.C. Supreme Court

Christine Raverty and husband Steve Handy opposed selling their unit in the Bel-Ayre condominium complex and won in B.C. Supreme Court in September to stop the sale | Rob Kruyt

The saga surrounding a Vancouver condominium building, where owners opposed to selling the site won in B.C. Supreme Court to stop a proposed strata wind-up attempt, has taken a surprise turn.

Cressey Development Group finalized agreements on December 4 to buy 29 of 36 units, Cressey executive vice-president Hani Lammam confirmed to Business in Vancouver December 5.

The transactions give Cressey more than 80% of the units – an important threshold because of a B.C. law that went into effect last year that stipulated that if 80% of owners in a building agree that they want to sell the site, they are able to go to B.C. Supreme Court to get approval to transfer ownership to a liquidator that would market the property, complete a sale and distribute assets to owners.

Bel-Ayre’s owners had voted 30-6, or 83.33%, in January to wind up the strata and sell the site to BCIMC Realty for $19 million. BCIMC Realty had a separate agreement in place that would have seen it transfer the building’s ownership to Bentall Kennedy.

Dissenting owners in court are able to argue either that they will suffer undue hardship as a result of the sale or that the process was not followed appropriately in an effort to quash the sale.

Bel-Ayre owners, such as Christine Raverty and husband Steve Handy, successfully argued in court that the strata corporation had not followed the process exactly as it should have and, on September 21, Justice Warren Millman ruled in their favour and dismissed the attempted sale.

“The deal blew up,” Lammam said. “Then we got the opportunity to step in to the deal.”

He added that he does not think that it is right for a small percentage of owners to “control the fortunes of the vast majority” and that he is happy with the transactions.

“It is a good opportunity with long term potential,” Lammam said. “Is it a redevelopment site? Is it a holding property? We’re not sure at this point.

We just know that this is a good opportunity with some longterm potential.”

His goal is to have Cressey finalize transactions to buy the remaining seven units and the company has made offers to those owners to purchase their homes.

A tenant in one of the suites, Nathan Skillen, told BIV December 5 that he has been living in a suite that is owned by a family member. Cressey has given the suite owner the opportunity to have the suite for free for four months, starting in December. Skillen said his rent will then go up to $950 per month for four months. The rent will then go up to $1,500 for four months.

He is not sure whether he will be allowed to stay longer than that and said that he may move out of the suite before the higher-rent threshold is reached.