The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) announced Wednesday it sold the 25-storey tower to Blackwood Partners Inc. for about $246 million. Blackwood is a real estate transaction group, which bought the property on behalf of a consortium of Canadian pension funds.
ICBC has had the property listed for a few years, describing it as “not appropriate for the company’s investment portfolio.”
The components of the Central City project that have been sold include 570,000 square feet of office tower and podium space, and 490,000 square feet of retail mall space. Simon Fraser University continues to own 305,000 square feet in the tower and podium.
It’s also believed the company is preparing to make an offer on the Zellers store.
All tenants of the building are expected to remain.
Central City has a long and colourful history.
The Leader first reported in 1999 that ICBC had purchased the Surrey Place Mall property in North Surrey for $40 million. The purpose of that acquisition was to construct the current tower and provide a home for the now defunct TechBC, a technical university created by the former NDP government.
In 2001, the newly elected Liberals folded TechBC in favour of SFU, and the government set about off-loading the tower property.
At the time, a number of Liberals blamed the NDP for the acquisition. Former finance minister Gary Collins said it was a scandal equivalent to the fast ferries fiasco.
“The only difference between this and the fast ferries is that this one doesn’t move,” Collins said in 2002.
Two years later, the Liberals announced they were spending $70 million to acquire 305,000 square feet of the building for the Surrey SFU Campus.
Earlier that year, Central City won the prestigious International Property Market’s Special Jury Award as the world’s best overall new development.
ICBC has said the proceeds from the sale will be reinvested to help keep auto insurance rates down and stable.