Chinese investors are falling in love with Point Roberts

Scenic views of islands and long beaches are among the features that lure Canadians and Americans alike to the community of Point Roberts.
Scenic views of islands and long beaches are among the features that lure Canadians and Americans alike to the community of Point Roberts. The Bellingham Herald file

After diving headlong into the Vancouver, B.C. and Seattle real estate markets, Chinese investors are taking a healthy interest in Point Roberts, a distant slice of Whatcom County that is as much a (summer) home to Canadians as it is to Americans.

In the past 5 years, Chinese investors have bought the Point’s marina and a golf course and plans are in the works for an upscale 62-site community, according to The Vancouver Sun.

“They (Chinese) are looking for good opportunities and Point Roberts has just been sitting here,” said Wayne Knowles, a developer who’s lived in Point Roberts for 25 years and has a hand in some of the projects. “It’s been a diamond in the rough forever. People are finally coming down here and seeing how beautiful it is.”

Among the recent purchases:

▪  Coco Luo, who lives in Richmond, B.C. and owns two golf courses in China, bought the dormant Point Roberts Golf and Country Club in July for $4.45 million and plans to upgrade the course and build a new clubhouse, according to the Delta (B.C.) Optimist. It will be rebranded as Bald Eagle Valley Resort.

▪  Beijing businessman GaoZhu and Chinese billionaire Chen Yihong bought Point Roberts Marina in 2015 for $27 million and are upgrading the docks, with plans to add a clubhouse, restaurant and housing.

▪  Zhu bought a controlling interest in Seabright Farm, a 60-acre site on a bluff overlooking the Gulf of Georgia, in 2012. It’s being developed by Knowles and business partner Anders Kruus of Seattle.

A former cannery is the planned home of Blackfish Resort in Point Roberts. Philip A. Dwyer pdwyer@bhamherald.com

An American developer also hopes to get a long-delayed project built in Point Roberts. Steve O’Neill has submitted plans to build the 32-room Blackfish Resort in an existing cannery building on Marine Drive, according to All Point Bulletin, Point Roberts’ community newspaper.

O’Neill has been working on the project for nearly 10 years.

The sandy peninsula, which requires two border crossings to visit from the U.S. mainland, is home to Whatcom County’s Lighthouse Marine Park and Lily Point Marine Park. The Blaine School District operates a K-3 school there and Point Roberts Parks and Recreation District is considering bids to convert an old fire hall into a new library.

Another longtime landmark, Kiniski’s Reef Tavern, is the only bar in Point Roberts – and it’s for sale at $1.6 million.

But until now, the Point has been a mostly rural community and longtime residents like it that way. Mark Robbins, president of the Point Roberts Taxpayers Association, told the Sun the Point’s 1,300 permanent residents enjoy the peace and quiet.

“A lot of people are intuitively uneasy with change,” Robbins said. “You cross that border and it’s a giant relief, especially at night time – a dark rural community, no sidewalks, no street lights. That’s what a lot of people like.”