The deal has been in the works for nearly eight months, according to Kent, and the buyers plan on taking their time to decide what they want to do with the land now that it has been acquired.
“It’s a very complicated property,” Kent said. “It’s made up of multiple zoning areas (commercial, single family, multi-family), and there are some obligations that came along with the property, such as the connector road. So it took some time for them to do their due diligence and really assess it before they committed.” The buyers also had to wait for a court order to complete the sale since it was a distressed property.
At one time the property had been listed for $46 million, with nearly $35 million indebted against it. The property was placed in foreclosure, and then was sold to San Francisco-based Union Bank after Everett-based Frontier Bank failed in 2010. On January 28, the sale to North America CC Chang Jiang Investment LLP was finalized. “They bought it for a tremendous value,” Kent said.
Realtor Patrick Starr, who represented the buyers, said he doesn’t expect anything to happen quickly. “You won’t see lots going up for sale tomorrow,” he said. “They want to do it once and do it right. It’s going to be very methodical. My job for the next three months is to talk to developers and get ideas. [The investors] want to do what is best for the community.”
The property overlooks Birch Bay with a stunning view of the bay and islands. Some of the infrastructure, such as sidewalks and utilities, is already in place, and nearly 75 lots are developed and ready to go, Starr said. Around 150 acres are slated for residential use. There is already one home in the development that was not part of the purchase.
In the past 15 months, more than $35 million in commercial property sales have taken place within a 5-mile radius of this development, and since the out-of-area buyers are bringing fresh capital and vision to the Birch Bay-Semiahmoo area, Kent feels it bodes well for the future.
“People with little capital rely on a fast return. People with capital have patience,” he said. “These people came in with the funds ready and have the ability to do things methodically. It may be years before they see a return on their investment, and I expect we will see a far different product than what was originally intended for that hillside.”
The properties make up more than 1,200 acres combined and include the Marin Condos, Birch Bay Waterslides, Sea Links Golf Course, CJ’s Beach House restaurant, the Horizon development, Birch Bay Square and several hundred acres on Birch Point.
“There are really only about four buyers who are making these purchases,” Kent said. “And they haven’t even collaborated yet. They all are very keen on doing what’s best for the community, though, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens.”
Starr said the developers are interested in input from the community on how they would like to see the project progress. “We want to have the community’s support. If we have the community’s support it makes it easier to get county and city support.” To make suggestions, call Patrick Starr at 360/961-2671.