BIRCH BAY - A significant Birch Bay residential project that fell into foreclosure has sold to a Canadian group.
Horizon at Semiahmoo, once envisioned as a 650-home subdivision, was sold by Union Bank to North American CC Chang Jiang Investment. The selling price was $5.88 million, said Mike Kent, a Windermere real estate agent representing Union Bank.
Fred Bovenkamp was the lead developer on the project, but it fell into foreclosure as he owed an estimated $40.6 million in unpaid principal and interest to Frontier Bank. Everett-based Frontier failed in April 2010, and the loan was turned over to San Francisco-based Union Bank.
According to the Washington Secretary of State website, two partners listed in the buyer group are Mao Hua Chen and Ming Yan Liu, both of Vancouver, B.C.
The first step for the new owners is to take some time to re-evaluate the project, said Patrick Starr, a real estate agent at Bellingham's John L. Scott office who is representing the buyers.
"This is such a huge project that it will take a long time working with the community and planners," Starr said. "They want to make sure they do this once and do it right."
Some of the infrastructure, such as sidewalks and utilities, are already in place and about 75 lots from phase one are ready to go, Starr said. About 150 acres is strictly for residential development, with about 35 acres available for mixed use of residential and commercial development. The property is near Birch Point and includes sweeping waterfront views.
The sale of Horizon at Semiahmoo is the latest in a group of significant sales of distressed property in the Birch Bay area. Kent estimates that more than 1,200 acres of commercial and residential property have been sold in the past 15 months within a five-mile radius of the Horizon project for more than $35 million. The properties include the Marin condominiums, Birch Bay Waterslides, Sea Links Golf Course and Birch Bay Square. Many of these projects were purchased by Canadian investors.
Kent said he's never seen such a flurry of large property sales in the Birch Bay area in such a short time.
"Having these distressed properties sold to buyers with capital is great news for the community," Kent said. "I expect it will be a long-term process over several years, but I'm hopeful these different buyers will get together to talk about these projects. They've all said they want to work with the community."
Starr said the buyers of the Horizon at Semiahmoo property are interested in feedback from the community. To offer feedback, call Starr at 360-961-2671.