Chinese developer makes Canadian debut at UBC

Yu complex aimed at immigrant buyers

Units at a new UBC residential complex called Yu designed to appeal to immigrant Chinese buyers who have both a green streak and deep pockets will be up for sale for the first time Saturday,

Cameron McNeill, president of MAC Marketing Solutions, said he expects sales of the 106 sustainably designed, luxury condos and townhouses will be brisk.

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"At the risk of sounding too sales-y, the UBC market is a fairly unique market," said McNeill. "A main attraction is all the natural amenities, but also the schools. That is important for all cultures, but the Chinese culture puts a particularly high value on that. There are a lot of Chinese immigrants living here and they seem to resonate well with Chinese developers who are trying to buy in locations that appeal to that consumer group."

The name Yu itself means "jade" in Chinese and the green gemstone is considered precious in Chinese culture. However, the new homes on the Wesbrook Village block won't be green in name only.

The housing complex is the first Canadian construction project by one of China's largest property developers, Modern Green, a company that has developed more than 10 million square feet of green buildings in China and Australia using geothermal heating, energy-saving technologies and other sustainable building techniques. Last February, it donated $3.5 million to advance green building research by UBC's Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability.

Built to conform to the principals of Feng shui as well as stringent REAP (Residential Environmental Assessment Program) gold standards, Yu was designed by Perkins and Will, an international firm whose other local projects include the Canada Line SkyTrain stations, the District of North Vancouver municipal hall and SFU's Blusson Hall. The innovative building, located on the university's south campus, will also feature a 5,000 square foot "living laboratory" and demonstration centre to showcase the most recent technologies in sustainable design.

"This partnership helps place UBC and Modern Green at the forefront of efforts to dramatically improve the sustainability of the buildings we work and live in by accelerating the development of sustainable urban infrastructure and green building practices," said UBC president Stephen Toope in a prepared statement. "I believe Yu will be a harbinger of successful change."

McNeill said this will likely be the first of many Modern Green projects in B.C.

"This is a large Chinese group that was looking at where they wanted to continue to grow and develop their company and they chose Vancouver as a safe, growing city that was friendly to the developer and has a market they were comfortable to operate in," said McNeil. "They don't have anything that I can speak of openly yet, but they have their fingers in several other sites in the future."

The development is expected to be ready to move into by the end of 2012, and asking prices start at $449,900.

Twitter: @flematic

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