VGH and UBC Hospital foundation buys Vancouver property for $100 million

The foundation in late March completed a deal to buy a 1.4 acre property at the 900 block of West 12th Avenue, which is right next to VGH’s main campus

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The VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation’s $100 million purchase of a prime block of land on Vancouver’s west side is a way of raising funds for a non-profit cause, even though the major real estate move makes sense for other reasons, according to its president and CEO.

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VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation, which is the main fundraising partner for Vancouver Coastal Health, had been investing the money from its donors, millions of dollars, into market funds.

But for some years, its board of directors, which has included real estate and investment professionals from companies such as Westbank, Peterson Group, Odlum Brown Ltd., CBRE Group, Larco Investments and Rize Alliance Properties, has tapped into Vancouver land and property, especially as charities across the country face more uncertainty about how to maintain past levels of donations.

“We thought, doesn’t this make more sense? Let’s take the dollars that are donated, invest them in our own real estate that then has a double impact,” said Foundation president and CEO Angela Chapman.

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The foundation in late March completed a deal to buy a 1.4 acre property at the 900 block of West 12th Avenue, which is right next to VGH’s main campus.

It’s a site that includes Windermere, a 14-storey long-term care facility with 207 beds, and a three-storey, 26-unit rental apartment building.

The foundation will get income from leasing Windermere to Vancouver Coastal Health, which will operate it as a fully public care facility. All its 207 long-term care beds will continue to stay in a location close to VGH.

There are no current plans to redevelop the rental apartment building, but Chapman said the potential exists in coming years for plans that get much more allowance for density since the location is so close to the Broadway Corridor and the major artery of Oak Street.

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In order for the venture not to trigger taxation requirements for the foundation as a non-profit organization, any redevelopment would have to stay within the confines of the foundation’s mission of supporting healthcare, said Chapman.

The city will require the foundation to replace the existing 26 rental units that are currently in the three-storey building, in any plan moving forward.

“We have to do that. So, we’re going to have to figure out a plan. Ideally, we would like to do it within our mandate to support healthcare. That could mean some different kinds of health care-related possibilities for those units on the site. We’re working through those different kinds of options with the city. One of them is the possibility of something like space for healthcare workers because of its wonderful proximity to the campus.”

Chapman said there are “incredible challenges” in attracting and keeping nurses and allied health professionals and this is causing problems for healthcare, “including delays in surgery and so on.”

jlee-young@postmedia.com


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