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The central post office in downtown Vancouver on Oct. 7, 2012. Canada Post announced on Jan. 25, 2013, that the property had been sold.

Jeff Vinnick/The Globe and Mail

Vancouver's distinctive main Canada Post office has been sold to a giant B.C.-based pension and government fund manager.

The building is going to be redeveloped as a large-scale mixed-use site, but only after extensive planning, said B.C. Investment Management Corporation spokeswoman Gwen-Ann Chittenden.

"When we look at the scale and complexity of the site, it needs careful planning," she said.

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The 1958 modernist building has been designated as an endangered historic site by Heritage Vancouver, ever since Canada Post announced two years ago that it was building a new mail-processing plant close to the Vancouver International Airport that would open by 2014.

Ms. Chittenden would not confirm whether the rumoured sale price of $160-million for the site was correct, saying it was a private sale.

She said bcIMC will be working closely with the City of Vancouver to re-develop the building, in order to make "full use of the site for a large-scale, mixed-use redevelopment."

The corporation's managers "are aware of the potential heritage aspects and will be taking that into consideration," she said.

The fund manager has $92-billion in holdings around the world. Locally, with Bentall Kennedy managing its properties, bcIMC has developed the Broadway Tech office park in east Vancouver and is developing one of the cluster of new office towers going up in downtown Vancouver. It also owns Vancouver's Evergreen Building, Yaletown 939, Metropolitan Towers, Willowbrook Shopping Centre and the Park Place office tower.

When the property was put on the market several months ago, the broker handling the sale noted in its memo to potential bidders that high-profile luxury retailers are looking for ways to get into Vancouver's tightly packed downtown.

"This site is one of the few remaining development properties that can accommodate large format retailers seeking locations in Vancouver's downtown peninsula," it said, observing that current developer preference for multiuse developments near transit is "a trend that bodes well for the Subject Property."

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The city had asked the Vancouver Art Gallery to look at the post office as a potential site, but a consultant advised the gallery's board that there were too many seismic and other issues with the building.

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