Surrey’s long-vacant 104 Avenue Centre building has all but sold, and the prospective new owner says 80 per cent of the notorious complex has been leased for occupancy, potentially by summer.
Kuldeep Bansal said he will take control of the building in late March, when one final payment is due on the $55-million purchase price.
“Leasing has not been difficult,” Bansal said Monday (Jan. 31). “I put up the signs, and there is a lot of demand out there. We were getting almost 10 to 15 calls a day. We’ve had great interest.”
The four-storey, 271,000-square-foot commercial complex, located on the Whalley/Guildford border, was constructed in 1998, but no long-term tenants have ever been found, making for something of a real-estate oddity in Surrey.
The appraised 2019 value was $72.4 million, according to Ron Emerson, the Vancouver-area representative of Arizona-based building owner Donald Pitt.
Outside the building Monday, on a blue metal fence where “for sale” signs were posted in recent years, “for lease” signs show Bansal’s phone number.
“We already have access to the building and we’re allowed to go in and sign leases,” Bansal said, “but officially the 23rd of March is when we will have keys to the building. We have made the majority of payments already, and the majority of it is done. It was a big challenge.”
Bansal revealed the potential tenant mix that could bring life to 104 Avenue Centre, a building that has been pretty much dead for more than two decades.
“At one point we had a tenant who was seriously looking at renting the whole building as a single tenant, but we already had some commitments done, so we thought of leasing to multiple tenants instead of a single tenant,” Bansal told the Now-Leader.
“We have the provincial government coming in, and one very high-end retail store occupying 30,000 square feet – it’s a grocery store, but I can’t disclose the name due to some reasons,” Bansal added.
“And then we have a wellness centre, 35,000 square feet, which is supported by the provincial government. A daycare will be occupying almost 10,000 square feet.”
Originally from India, Bansal said his business background includes pharmaceuticals marketing and immigration consultancy.
“Now I have two golf courses and I’m into real estate,” he said. “Delta Golf Course is one, and we will be the first course in Canada to have night golfing. You can tee off at 5 p.m. and finish, because the back nine is lit up. That’s starting this season, mid-March, and we have government approval.”
In 2019, Bansal had his immigration consultant licence suspended by the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (now known as College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants, or CICC). An affidavit said Bansal “actively recruited” foreign workers and did not provide promised jobs.
“That was reinstated – I’m in good standing right now,” Bansal said Tuesday (Feb. 1).
On the CICC website, Bansal is listed as “Active – Practice Restricted,” indicating a licensee who has had their practice restricted as part of an interim order or disciplinary finding.
For the 104 Avenue Centre building, Bansal said his first deposit for purchase was made in mid-November, when he began looking for tenants .
“Now it’s January and we have to see if we have the space if someone calls. We’re trying to fit the best tenants in,” he said.
“We are very happy with the response,” he added. “Right now we are working with engineers and the city, various proposals, to bring it up to the code, and once it’s up to the code we will definitely go from there, giving tenant-improvement permits and allowing them to start those improvements.”
August or September is when tenants could move in, he added.
“If those improvements start in April, everybody needs three or four months, with the permits and trades coming and doing their job,” Bansal said. “It will depend. We have a sports facility, they say they need only one month for tenant improvement – that is a 20,000-square-foot indoor sports facility. They will have simulators for cricket, golf and all that, an academy type facility.”
With 104 Avenue Centre, developers of the building originally planned for an Asian-themed “showmart” facility in the late-1990s, but those plans were scrubbed.
Pitt, a lawyer who helped launch the Phoenix Suns NBA basketball team decades ago, bought the building in the mid-2000s. Building construction was completed at that time, and since then, prospective renters and/or buyers have included Fraser Health, Simon Fraser University and RCMP, but all deals eventually didn’t happen.
Potential uses pitched for the building have included banquet hall, office space, homes, restaurants, bowling alley, even an auto-sales lot on the ground floor, according to Emerson.
“We’ve rented it to movie companies on a regular basis over the years,” he said in 2021.
Bansal said he has noticed the vacant building for sale a few years ago, and took action to buy it after doing some research.
“Through friends of mine, I started working on it, on demographics and commercial buildings in Surrey. I realized that commercial is shrinking, let’s get in there,” he said.
“People around here, they’re very happy,” he added. “One accountant, he told me he remembers this building when he was going to school – he grew up in this area, and never realized he would be moving into this building now.
“We are getting ready, getting there, and we’ve had a lot of co-operation from Mr. Donald Pitt, and co-operation from Ron Emerson, very great guys to work with.”
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