In a market like Metro Vancouver where approval timelines leave a lot to be desired and can drag on for years on end, being in the development game for five years can mean you have completed zero projects. Hitting the 10-year mark, however, is then a much more significant milestone, where you've likely completed a handful of projects, experienced the ebbs and flows of the real estate cycle, and have some interesting stories to show for it.
Founded in 2013, Landa Global Properties celebrated its 10th birthday in late 2023, with a gathering of about 300 people at the Center of International Contemporary Art in Gastown on November 4.
Over the past decade, Landa Global has completed four major projects: Boldon Fraser, Chateur Laurier, Main & Twentieth, and Cascade City. Seven additional projects are currently in the works, at various stages.
Raphael, in West Point Grey, and Lucent, in Surrey, are both currently under construction. The upcoming 1818 Alberni project is currently 60% sold, as of mid-December, Landa tells STOREYS, and construction is slated to start this spring. Also slated to start this spring is sales for the developer's Oval project in Richmond and their master-planned community in Scarborough, Ontario. Two additional projects are also currently in the planning stage, with both also set for Alberni Street in Vancouver.
In an interview with STOREYS, Founder and CEO Kevin Cheung reflects on Landa Global's first 10 years, picks his favourite project that Landa has been involved in, and discusses what he has learned over the past decade.
STOREYS: Can you tell me a bit about your personal background leading up to founding Landa Global?
Cheung: I was born in Shanghai and moved to Canada at age 3. My family is in the real estate development business in Asia, and I grew up with that influence. I graduated from UBC and then worked in real estate in Asia before coming home to Vancouver to start Landa in 2013.
S: What's the story behind the "Landa" name?
C: It's a twist on "big land" in Mandarin, which is the literal translation of my family’s company name in Shanghai. Essentially, the name Landa is a fusion of east and west and a reference to our Asian roots.
S: What led you to want to get into real estate development yourself? And what were you seeing in the market at the time?
C: Having grown up in a family of real estate developers, I was always interested in the business, and that’s what I wanted to do. Vancouver is such a beautiful city, and I wanted to live and work here and contribute to the legacy of building quality homes for people and to the communities in which we build.
In 2013, when Landa started, the market was full of potential and growth fueled by immigration. There were a lot of changes happening with the evolution of certain neighborhoods as they moved towards densifying to accommodate population growth. It was — and still is — an exciting city to be a developer in.
S: What's your favourite project to date that Landa has completed?
C: That's a hard question. But at this point, I'd have to say Cascade City, our two-tower architectural landmark in Richmond. We were able to use our skills to create something that went over and above the requirements to create something extraordinary. I think we found the right balance and were rewarded by the market in terms of how well and fast we sold and how much the city, neighbors and residents loved the project. That is a beautiful thing.
Cascade City in Richmond, British Columbia.(Landa Global Properties)
In 2024, we'll be moving forward with another residential and hotel development at the [Richmond] Oval that will combine everything we learned at Cascade City with the same team to build something the city has never seen before. We are really excited about that.
S: Is it just a coincidence that Landa has three projects on Alberni Street in Vancouver? Or do you see something special there?
C: It was not a coincidence. The West End Community Plan came out when we started Landa, and the transformation on Alberni — and what it will become — is something we are super excited about and we wanted to be part of that transformation, hence our heavy investment on Alberni.
S: What are some changes in the industry you've seen in the past 10 years from the developer perspective?
C: Over the last 10 years, we've experienced a few different aspects of the real estate cycle, from the boom, to the COVID slowdown and now to high interest rates. But we have managed through the ebb and flow of that cycle and all the challenges that come with that. It has been a great learning experience, and we've come out of it stronger than before. Our focus and our vision is to continue to innovate, not just with the buildings themselves, but with the amenities and technology that improve and enrich the homeowner experience.
S: What's something you've learned that you, perhaps, wish you knew 10 years ago?
C: I learned that interest rates can get to 7%!
But seriously, I wish I knew more about diversification and having different asset classes in different geographical areas to create a more well-rounded portfolio.
S: Landa expanded to Toronto last year. Did you always have your sights on Toronto or was that just a particularly appealing opportunity?
C: Toronto is a market we've been looking at for a long time. We are compelled in part by the consistent growth of Toronto, even during COVID. For us, it is a great city to be in and helps us diversify.
S: Where do you see Landa 10 years from today?
C: We are hoping to grow and expand into other jurisdictions. We have always had a long-term vision for real estate in Canada, and our vision is to work with new architects, designers, and artists on bringing legacy projects to communities across the country. We want to keep growing and building successful projects.