by Tamara Cunningham – Nanaimo News Bulletin
posted Jan 28, 2014 at 7:00 AM— updated Jan 28, 2014 at 1:24 PM
A B.C.-based company is reviving a multimillion-dollar housing project in upper Lantzville.
North Vancouver’s Lone Tree Properties says it’s ready to dust off plans for the 730-hectare Lantzville Foothills Estates, once called the largest housing development conceived on Vancouver Island.
The company became the sole owner of the Foothills property in December after spending more than a year in the courts trying to acquire the front-end parcel from the foreclosed Lantzville Foothills Estates Inc.
The success means an obstacle removed for Lone Tree, which wasn’t previously able to comes to terms with the other developer over issues like density-sharing and latecomer agreements, said chief executive officer Allard Ockeloen, adding the change makes the process of negotiating with Lantzville possible.
The company now plans to spend the next year planning the subdivision, speaking with community members and engaging Lantzville officials in development agreement talks. It also still has the task of finding adequate water, which remains a requirement.
Ockeloen told the News Bulletin the company has been doing “quite a bit of work” expanding on its water assets and is confident a resolution will be found.
Lone Tree aims to have the Foothills on the real estate market in 2015.“Lantzville is our flagship. It’s the largest of [our] six projects and for us, it’s a very exiting opportunity,” Ockeloen said. “We are bullish about the whole Nanaimo area, we are bullish about the region [and] we love Lantzville and the fact this property sits where it sits, the views … everything is exciting about this land.”
The Lantzville Foothills project was proposed in 2004 and slated to become a mega mixed-housing development with rural lots and multi-family homes but it’s run into obstacles that has kept it on ice, from the struggle to find adequate water supply to foreclosure and divided ownership.
In 2010, the property was carved into two parcels with the largest sold to Lone Tree Properties. The company and its assets were purchased by Storm Mountain Development Corporation two years later as it expanded its presence in B.C. The upper Lantzville property remains the company’s largest buy and while it’s now looking forward to potentially being the first to offer new product on the Lantzville real estate market, it’s also optimistic about what is happening next door.
“Nanaimo has something right now that just looks really bullish, like the next 10 to 15 years to me appear like [it] is going to get an unfair share of growth … in relation to some other areas in B.C.,” said Ockeloen, adding that in the last two years the Harbour City seems to have found its way onto the map with additions like a convention centre, airport improvements and a new downtown hotel. “There are good things on the horizon.”
The Foothills Estates is anticipated to be similar to original plans, with roads roughed in and much of the infrastructure and engineering designs already complete. Half the land is still slated to become park while the rest will be mixed housing. The challenge ahead is tapping into water, according to Ockeloen, who said Lone Tree is working to expand its supply through drilling efforts. It is also waiting to see what happens with the water-sharing deal between Lantzville and the City of Nanaimo and could include the resource in its development negotiations.
Lantzville mayor Jack de Jong says he is optimistic the developer and district will find an acceptable agreement now that there is single ownership. He also said he’s willing to potentially renegotiate the water deal with the City of Nanaimo around the housing project, which he says will be beneficial for both communities.