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Victoria’s Bear Mountain Resort owner ponders sale options

The owner of one of British Columbia’s highest-profile residential and sporting resorts has launc...

The owner of one of British Columbia’s highest-profile residential and sporting resorts has launched a review that could result in the full or partial sale of Bear Mountain Resort, near Victoria.

Bear Mountain resort.

A view from one of the Jack Nicklaus-designed courses at Victoria’s Bear Mountain resort community. (Photo courtesy Bear Mountain)

Last week, Bear Mountain Resort Community owner Ecoasis announced it enlisted the commercial brokerage firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) to perform a strategic review of the assets that could result in a sale of the property or a new partnership.

The residential resort covers 772 acres of land embedded in an existing community of more than 3,000 residents located about 15 minutes from Victoria on Vancouver Island.

Ecoasis is amid a master plan that would boost the area population by about 7,000 over the next 15 years with a mix of new houses, townhomes and condos.

The community also includes two Nicklaus Design golf courses, a Westin hotel, a fitness centre and health spa.

Golf Canada and Cycling Canada both make their homes at Bear Mountain and the operators are currently working with Tennis Canada to build a red-clay court tennis facility.

Investors, not developers

“The principals of Ecoasis are primarily investors; they’re not developers,” said David Clarke, Ecoasis chief financial officer. “There’s a lot of the community still to build out here at Bear Mountain and we just felt that this was the right time now to engage JLL to review all of the options here.”

Ecoasis specializes in buying and developing residential and resort real estate and has properties in Victoria, Whistler and Hawaii.

The group bought Bear Mountain in 2013 from HSBC Bank Canada after the bank took control from the previous owners when they failed to meet loan payments, according to the Victoria Times Colonist.

“We are continuing to develop and work on a few of the projects,” Clarke said, noting a townhouse development and a new tract of houses are being completed.

“The community definitely has the potential to add another 2,000-2,500 units to the community, and the people and the atmosphere that goes along with that will just take Bear Mountain to the next level.”

He said the summer marks the beginning of Bear Mountain’s busy season. The services and development process will continue as planned, “while at the same time, (we’ll be) reviewing with JLL the strategic options for the development side going forward.”

Prime development land

JLL senior vice-president Jon Ramscar said the community is about one-third built out.

“If you look at the absorption and development time frame, you’re looking at a project with a 10- to 15-year time horizon for build-out based on existing development rights,” he told RENX. “It’s a very complex project and a significant amount of scale with all the pipelines of residential and commercial development ahead.”

Ramscar said the master plan calls for more density, including condos.

“Without a doubt, (Bear Mountain) is the largest development offering in Victoria. I would go so far as to say it’s likely one of the largest development offerings in Canada in 2017,” he said. “Some of the best land remains available for development.”

JLL will be including potential international buyers in its marketing scope if the decision is made to sell part or all of the community assets, Ramscar said.

He said the property is essentially ready for an investor and developer to take over, given that much of the development rights and zoning are already in place.

The review process will continue through the rest of the year before any decisions to partner or sell are made, he said.