Opportunity abounds for investors in booming Kitimat
Updated: Apr 25, 2019
WI staff Western Investor
November 20, 2018
Kitimat. Until recently, that name conjured up a little-known town with a population of less than 9,000 in north-west British Columbia. But today, Kitimat is a town known around the globe for one thing: the single largest private-sector investment in Canadian history.
With the announcement of LNG Canada’s $40 billion project, everyone is looking to get in on the action, whether they’re an energy worker, a contracting company, a product supplier, a facilities service companies, a land developer or an individual real estate investor. The opportunity is enormous for many – and a real challenge for others trying to find a way in.
Jason Pender, a real estate developer, investor and principal of JV Dev Group, and his development partner, Leonard Kerkhoff of Kerkhoff Construction Ltd., are two local players who stand to reap the benefits from the LNG deal. Having made a land purchase in Kitimat four years ago, they are confident that it will now pay dividends – not only to their development group, but also to those who buy into their new residential community, Riverbrook Estates.
“The lights went out”
In 2014, a development group comprising Kerkhoff Construction, JV Dev Group and three other partners purchased a 27-acre parcel of land in downtown Kitimat, when the LNG deal was first on the table.
Pender tells Western Investor, “Things were going great. Then in 2015, the natural resource sector took a huge global downturn. LNG in Kitimat took a pause and, in 2016, the front runner, LNG Canada, announced they would delay a decision indefinitely. All the lights went out.”
The group’s land parcel had achieved a lot before those lights went out. Some of their 27 acres had been rezoned into two phases of new townhomes of 93 units in total, and the development group had passed third reading on a 70- lot bare land strata site. There were an additional 32 single-family lots, with the potential to rezone half into two multi-family sites, for up to another 100 units. At close to 300 units, Riverbrook Estates was set to be the largest residential development in Kitimat in 50 or 60 years.
Then, in early October 2018, LNG Canada was approved, and, as Pender puts it, “The lights went back on. We had already accomplished a lot of ground work at Riverbrook Estates. We were ready to go then and we are ready to go now. Riverbrook Estates is significantly further ahead of any other residential development project in Kitimat.”