Newcomer buys Victoria’s Mayfair shopping mall

New owner plans redevelopment in long term

Victoria’s Mayfair shopping centre has been bought by Vancouver Island resident Weihong Liu, who immigrated from China in 2014 | Adrian Lam, Times Colonist

Mayfair, Victoria’s largest shopping centre, has been purchased by Central Walk, the buyer of Nanaimo’s Woodgrove Centre in September 2020.

In each case, Central Walk, headed by Vancouver Island resident Weihong Liu, who immigrated from China in 2014, bought the malls from Montreal’s Ivanhoé Cambridge, the real estate arm of Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.

Mayfair’s sale closed on June 1.

The purchase price was not disclosed.

Mayfair, at 3147 Douglas Street, is assessed at $242.57 million and sits on 20.7 acres, government records show.

The Woodgrove Centre sold for an undisclosed amount of money, but the 62-acre property is assessed at nearly $260 million.

Liu also bought the Arbutus Ridge golf course at Cobble Hill on southern Vancouver Island for a reported $4.5 million, among other Island properties, since her arrival from China.

Mayfair is home to 114 retailers and restaurants. The shopping centre expanded by 100,000 square feet to a total of 522,391 square feet of retail space and 2,042 parking spaces following a $72 million upgrading and expansion that was completed in 2019.

Ivanhoé Cambridge said that in a typical year the mall attracts 4.6 million visitors and has a sales volume of $192 million.

Liu, chair and founder of Central Walk, said in a statement: “I’m so happy to have completed this investment on beautiful Vancouver Island. Everyone treats everyone else in a friendly and respectful way here.

“Because this community has accepted me with open arms, I am committed to continuing to work with local leaders to build the communities that we have invested in so that, together, we can make them the very best places that they can be.”

Liu plans redevelopment in the longer term, but did not provide details.

The aim is to foster the shopping centre’s role as a commercial and social hub, the statement said.

Ivanhoé Cambridge had tried to sell the mall or shares in it during the past few years prior to the sale to Central Walk.

Officials with Ivanhoé Cambridge have said the company had too many shopping centres, an asset class that had been a driving force from its start. It is now shifting its investment focus to the residential and logistics sectors.

According to Central Walk’s statement, the company owns some of the largest and most successful regional real estate projects in Asia, under a different name, and is a multibillion-dollar commercial real estate enterprise.

It has 30 years of experience, concentrating on owning and managing properties with retail cores, it said.