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Yu condominium, by Beijing-based Modern Green. (Modern Green)
Yu condominium, by Beijing-based Modern Green. (Modern Green)

Beijing-based developer opens first BC project Add to ...

One of China’s biggest green developers is constructing its first project in Canada, and marketers are expecting a quick sale when units hit the market this weekend.

The University of B.C. residential project, called Yu, is a Canadian first for Beijing-based Modern Green. The company has so far specialized in sustainable residential development in China and Australia, and is now looking to tap into the North American market.

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In partnership with UBC Properties Trust, Modern Green is constructing 110 condo and townhouse units on the 99-year leasehold land at UBC’s Wesbrook Village. Prices start at $449,900.

Developer Robbie Zhang has been based out of Vancouver for more than two years, and he says plans are under way to set up a permanent research and development headquarters in Vancouver. The company has donated $3.5-million to UBC’s Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability.

Further residential projects would also be part of the plan for Modern Green, says Mr. Zhang.

“It’s good timing for us,” he says. “I would say we are pretty lucky to find this site. This could be a great opportunity and good timing for everybody. “As long as the Canadian government policy stays the same, I see more and more Mainland Chinese doing direct investments in B.C. There will be more opportunities coming.”

Marketer Cameron McNeill says the luxury project has already generated major interest by Chinese buyers who are looking to settle down in Vancouver. They are not buyers interested in speculative investment, he says.

“I would go out on a limb and say we are going to be half sold out this weekend - this is the Mercedes Benz of real estate,” says Mr. McNeill. “The majority of buyers would be of Chinese descent. What’s happening in Vancouver right now is that…a high percentage of people who come from China are making homes here. They have businesses. They have kids in school. And they are buying homes.

“They are becoming a part of the melting pot of our city. It’s important that people understand this is not offshore money.”

Modern Green may be China’s largest green developer in terms of volume. The company has developed about 10 million square feet of green projects in China and Australia, and as a result, Mr. Zhang says they have established themselves as pioneers in the sustainable building industry.

“We are pretty special,” said Mr. Zhang. “Green sustainability is key for us.

We are the first developer in China to import German and Swedish technologies to Beijing and Shanghai. We are the largest in terms of scale.

“We want to boost the whole industry. We want everybody to copy us. We are the model for other developers, so they can see that yes, your cost is higher [for sustainable development] but you can still make good returns.”

The Yu project is designed by well-known sustainable design architects Will + Perkins and follows the Chinese principles of Feng Shui.

Some of the sustainability features include an Asian style interior courtyard that allows for easy flow-through ventilation and natural light. It will use solar energy for hot water and captured storm water for toilet flushing and to water gardens.

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