New owners for downtown Victoria’s Bay Centre

The Victoria Bay Centre has been sold to the Manulife Group of companies.

Commercial real estate firm Avison Young said Monday that Bay Centre owners — Chicago-based LaSalle Investment Management and a member of Montreal-based Westcliff Group of Companies — sold the shopping centre on Feb. 11. The selling price was not disclosed, said Avison Young, which represented the seller.

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However, the value is likely close to $100 million given that B.C. Assessment records state the property is assessed at $97.52 million. That’s up 3.56 per cent from its previous assessment of $94.16 million.

Avison Young said in a statement the sale will likely be among the largest commercial real estate transactions in the province this year.

The Bay Centre transaction was closed on behalf of the Standard Life Real Estate Fund, spokeswoman Beverley MacLean said in a statement Monday.

Manulife took over Standard Life’s Canadian businesses on Jan. 30.

Standard Life Investments is now called Manulife Asset Management Accord (2015) Inc.

Holdings within Manulife Financial Corporation’s real estate arm include the Aldergrove Village Shopping Centre in Langley, the Dominion Centre in Edmonton and the Dundas Kipling Centre in Toronto.

The acquisition of Standard Life brought Manulife new properties in B.C., Alberta, Ontario and New Brunswick.

These include the CIBC building, 1175 Douglas St. and the Terasen Gas building, 1675 Douglas St. in Victoria, as well as the Standard Life building in Vancouver and the Weber Centre in Edmonton.

The Bay Centre sale was off-market, Avison Young said, and had not be publicly advertised for sale.

LaSalle and Westcliff bought the Bay Centre in 2010. The sale was valued at $90 million, government records show.

Michael Gill of Avison Young, said in a release Monday the latest transaction “is an indication of the faith placed in the future revitalization and long-term sustainability of Victoria’s downtown retail and commercial core.

“There are a lot of new high-rise residential developments on the books for the area and the new owners have a long-term view for the property, involving improvements to the asset on several fronts.”

The four-storey Bay Centre was the centre of one of the capital region’s hottest development controversies in the 1980s as heritage advocates squared off against developer Cadillac Fairview.

A total of 10 historic buildings were demolished to make way for the development, which opened in 1989. Some old facades were retained.

It was originally called the Eaton Centre, but when the department store chain collapsed, Sears moved in for a short time. The Bay arrived in 2003. There are 89 stores in the centre.

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