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Old Posted Mar 4, 2009, 7:57 PM
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From the Richmond News:

Sun to set on Sun Tech City

Alan Campbell
Richmond News

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Barring a minor miracle -- the doomed 16-tower Sun Tech City development appears to have finally been put out of its misery.

The developers behind the north Richmond project had been warned at the start of the year to comply with a series of strict rezoning conditions, such as paying for the Capstan Canada Line station and affordable housing, or face having the plug pulled.

But, despite yet another desperate plea from the developers for more flexibility, city council's general purposes committee voted unanimously Monday night to follow a staff recommendation to ditch the massive 2,136-home plan.

An updated staff report, placed before the committee Monday, stated that the proponents remained under the impression that the rezoning conditions agreed upon before a public hearing in May 2007 were still subject to negotiation rather than compliance.

It was further pointed out by staff that the developers, made of Pinnacle International, Concord Pacific and Richmond-based Western Construction, claim the commitments made prior to the public hearing are "no longer financially feasible."

Stating his intention to follow the staff recommendation, Mayor Malcolm Brodie told the developers they have until next Monday's full council meeting to save the deal.

"This is a terrible shame, but we made it absolutely clear two months ago what our requirements were," he said.

"I'm not convinced there's been any real effort made in the last two months. The loss of the Capstan Station is terrible for the city. But this will be called upon for the final time next week and that gives people seven times 24 hours. The road is clear now, unless something serious happens in that time."

Before casting his vote, Coun. Harold Steves tore a strip off the developers, questioning their desire to meet rezoning obligations.

"I would suggest we send a message to developers out there that they meet our requirements or go elsewhere," Steves stated. "You're obviously not in favour of meeting your obligations on the station, affordable housing and a child care facility.

"When we brought in our (affordable housing) strategy, some liked it and some didn't. The ones that did, were allowed to develop," Steves said.

The developers, fronted by Peter Webb of Pinnacle, said the recession has forced them to reconsider their ability to adhere to the rezoning conditions.

Webb added, due to the economic climate, it might be several years before another developer steps up with a similar proposal, should council knock theirs back.

Steves told Webb that he has seen recessions come and go and that the last round of developers that received concessions during tough times fooled city council.

"They got the concession then sat on the property and then made fortunes when things turned around," he said.

"But staff are telling us that we'll be better off with our new bylaws when we come out of this recession. What really bugs me is this attack on our affordable housing strategy. Development in Richmond should be on our terms."

Sun Tech City was set for a vacant 17-acre lot, bound by No. 3 Road, Sea Island Way, Sexsmith Road and Capstan Way. As part of the conditions, the developers were originally asked to put up front $15 million for construction of a Canada Line station. The city later agreed to allow the developers to pay $2.5 million up front and the rest when 50 per cent of the development is built. But the developers stated last week they could only offer $1 million in advance.

In addition to the station, Richmond stood to benefit from 100 affordable housing units, a child-care facility for 25 kids, roads and parks.

Should the project fail as expected, the city will have to hand back to the developers approximately $13 million in development cost charges.

Two-thirds of the site is owned by Pinnacle, while the rest is owned by Concord in conjunction with Western.

© Richmond News 2009
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