Birch Bay properties sold to BC investors

Published on Wed, Aug 22, 2012 by Jeremy Schwartz

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Both CJ’s Beach House restaurant and Sea Links Golf Course could see new life after Canadian investors purchased both properties.

British Columbia-based investment group North America Chen’s Holdings, LLP, has purchased the Sea Links Golf Course, the property that houses CJ’s Beach House and 38 acres of conservation easement between the golf course and Blaine Road. The properties sold for $2.35 million after being listed for $2.75 million, said Patrick Starr, the real estate agent with John L. Scott Real Estate in Bellingham who represented the buyers in the sale. Chen’s Holdings bought the properties from Union Bank, which acquired them from Homestead Northwest in lieu of foreclosure.

Starr said the owners are interested in finding new tenants for the restaurant space first, though no firm agreements have been made. The golf course will most likely retain its former use, while the investors are currently researching what can be built on a strip of land between the restaurant and the golf course that was included in the sale.

“Right now, we’re looking at what can be done with that property,” Starr said.

Gail Walker, co-owner of Paddle and Pedal Adventures, said she is thrilled to see the sale go through, one which included the building her business occupies. She said she had known for weeks a potential buyer was finalizing the sale, adding that she’s glad to know the properties were bought by someone who is interested in enhancing Birch Bay.

“We are absolutely thrilled and excited that we have new owners,” Walker said.

The sale, however, comes with a bit of uncertainy for Walker, who is in the first of a three-year lease in the Paddle and Pedal Adventures building just west of the golf course. She said she can’t imagine why the new owners would not honor her lease but admitted she does not know for sure what they plan to do.

“I hope that we’ll be fine, that we’ll continue to operate, but we don’t know,” Walker said.

When considering what direction to take with the properties, the new investors’ main priority is determining what will fit best in the Birch Bay community, Starr explained.

The investors will also take into account what other large-scale properties have been bought in the Birch Bay area so as not to bump heads with those investors’ interests, Starr said.

“We’re really just in a holding pattern right now,” he said.

The Sea Links and CJ’s properties are the latest in a handful of large-scale distressed commercial properties that have recently been sold at a bargain, Birch Bay Realtor Mike Kent said. Another developer based in British Columbia, Jun Yu Development II, LLC, has bought three large properties, including the Birch Bay Waterslides. Since last year, Jun Yu has spent about $9.4 million in the Birch Bay area alone.

“The good news is these distressed properties are all getting turned around, and at the same time, which is interesting,” Kent said.

The Sea Links sale and others like it represent international investors taking advantage of properties they can buy for a relative steal and redevelop for substantial profit, Kent explained. The Birch Bay area has seen more commercial properties changing hands in the past 12 months than has happened in the previous 5 to 10 years, he added.

”I think we’re coming out of what had to be the worst blight in commercial real estate properties that I’ve seen in 13 years of being in real estate, which is wonderful,” Kent said.