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Behind The Deal: Forgestone's Big Tsawwassen Buy

Vancouver Retail

When we heard that Forgestone Capital Management is acquiring a 50% stake in Tsawwassen Commons, we asked COO Keith Jameson why his Toronto-based firm wanted a foothold in ultra-competitive Metro Vancouver.


Vancouver is a tough market for investors to crack, says Keith, pictured right. “Really expensive, too.” So last December, after he and Forgestone CEO Trevor Blakely (left) caught wind of the opportunity to acquire an interest in Tsawwassen Commons, a 550k SF open-air shopping centre on Highway 17 (a previous partner in the mall's development, League Assets Group, went into receivership in October 2013), they set about getting a deal done with the remaining partner, GVest Private Equity.


Construction on Tsawwassen Commons—developed by Property Development Group on 52 acres of Tsawwassen First Nation lands—began in January. (It opens in 2016—based on this picture, there may be a video game version available.) The mall has two anchor tenants signed: Walmart (107k SF) and RONA (45k SF). Keith tells us they’re finalizing deals with a couple of other well-known national anchors, and that 78% of the total retail space is under letter of intent or offers to lease.


The key to Tsawwassen Commons’ appeal, Keith says, is that it's adjacent to Ivanhoé Cambridge's 1.2K SF Tsawwassen Mills (rendered above) a mega-mall—also under construction—with 16 major retailers and a 1,100-seat food court (modelled after Ivanhoé’s Vaughan Mills in Greater Toronto, with a similar tenant mix). When both open in 2016, they’ll constitute one of Metro Vancouver's largest shopping hubs. Tsawwassen Commons is a short-term play, says Keith, as Forgestone plans to see the mall through construction and leasing, then sell its stake in it to an institutional investor.