Hundreds of pre-sale Richmond condominium owners left hanging by the developer

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Sunny Ho, president of the Richmond Business Association and director of the developer Anderson Square Holdings. Photo by Daisy Xiong / Richmond News

A Richmond developer has pulled the plug on a 15-story mixed-use residential tower in the city center, leaving over 100 pre-sale buyers in the lurch.

Andersons Square Holdings Ltd, led by former candidate of city council Sunny Ho, informed its customers last week that it is canceling advance sales contracts for the development of the Anderson Road and Buswell Street Alfa with a full repayment of deposits, plus interest.

It is unclear why the contracts were canceled, but in last week's notification to buyers, there is a reference to the developer who was sued for $ 4.6 million by a construction company.

One of the remaining buyers is Jeremy Hsu, who paid a $ 36,000 deposit in 2015 for a 650-square-meter one-bedroom apartment in Alfa, where construction began at the beginning of this year .

Hsu and his wife, who live in Richmond, were planning to use the apartment as an investment.

He has now gathered a total of 25 pre-sale buyers on the Chinese-language social media platform WeChat and is considering initiating a class action lawsuit seeking compensation.

"My wife and I waited four years to close the deal, but the developer's message left us sad and frustrated," Hsu told the Richmond News today.

"If we had bought other condominiums at that time, the value of the house would have already doubled.

"But the developer has suddenly terminated our contract and only repaid our deposit and interest, which is unfair."

Originally, Hsu and the other about 100 pre-sale buyers expected to close the deal in the autumn of 2018, but the developer postponed the date until this year's September.

"The cost of the square foot in 2015 was around $ 500 dollars, now the price of houses in that area has increased to $ 1,000 per square meter," Hsu said.

"We (suspects) that the developer could sell the land to another developer at a higher price, so they threw us out by paying us only for deposits and interest rates."

If the developer is in some sort of financial difficulty, Hsu said he would prefer to wait, rather than lose his potential investment.

An other couple affected by the pact is a former Richmond resident who moved to Calgary in 2012 but was planning to return with his husband to his hometown to retire.

The woman, who asked not to be named, said she paid a deposit of $ 40,000 in 2015 for an 800-square-foot condominium, which was set to cost around $ 490,000 at the time.

"We felt so angry that we cannot return to the community we love," said the woman, who is also part of the WeChat group in Hsu.

The news made several attempts to contact Sunny Ho, who still has to return our calls.

Ironically, last September, Ho helped form a Richmond-based organization that claimed to have a solution to the city's housing convenience problem.

The Lower Mainland Affordable Housing Foundation, founded by Ho, announced that it was seeking funding from BC Housing to create cheaper rental units in the Lower Mainland.

He also founded the Richmond Business Association, of which he is president, and twice worked unsuccessfully for the municipal council in the municipal elections of 2018 and 2014.

The development of the Alfa was to be a 15-storey mixed-use residential tower, with 12,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor plus 111 condominiums.

In May 2018, the News reported how the Alpha was built with geothermal energy – found below the earth's surface – as the main source of energy for its homes.

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