In 1969, John Woodward and four fellow Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) members bought a five-acre lot in Surrey’s Guildford area for what Woodward recalls was around $25,000.
Part of the land facing 104th Avenue was used as the site of the board’s first headquarters in Surrey after it moved across the river from New Westminster.
Rather than selling the remaining three and a half acres, the five owners, all past presidents of the board, offered it back to the board at cost with only one request: that someday the land be used to benefit citizens of the Fraser Valley.
This month the board put the site, now assessed at $7.61 million, on the market.
In 2016, the FVREB created the Fraser Valley Realtors Charitable Foundation. The land was transferred to the foundation with the agreement that, upon its sale, the proceeds would become a charitable trust fund.
“I have always supported Habitat for Humanity,” said Woodward, 91, still an honorary member of the board and now retired on Salt Spring Island.
He noted that the board has supported numerous charities involving housing and shelter over the years and anticipates that the new Fraser Valley Realtors Charitable Foundation will do the same.
Given the size and location of the land, the site is expected to attract numerous offers, said foundation chairman and FVREB past-president, Charles Wiebe.
The site, located at 10515 155 Street, is now surrounded by an established residential community and is just four blocks from the Guildford Town Centre and close to the SkyTrain and Highway 1.
It’s currently zoned RM-30 for multi-family development, which means it could be developed into 88 townhouses.
“It was fluke,” Woodward said, recalling the handmade for-sale-by-owner sign he spotted 50 years ago. “When we bought the land, it was just a sea of stumps. We never in our wildest dreams thought it would be worth what it is today.”
There is no asking price for the property, Wiebe said, “As is quite common with the sale of unique, development lands and to ensure complete fairness and transparency, the property is being offered for purchase by way of a confidential bidding process.”
Offers to purchase the land will be accepted until 4 p.m. on April 30. The contact is Darcie Rosenberg at the FVREB.