City of Vancouver puts Olympic Village into receivership

24hrs-cover-nov18.jpg
The Olympic Village is now a public relations "boondoggle" for Mayor Gregor

UPDATE: Be sure to follow our tweets as details on this story are happening fast: @CityCaucus. Also read the substantial number of comments on the post below from our readers.

We said it on Twitter on Sunday that another big shoe may drop at the Olympic Village. Now @SunCivicLee has tweeted out that the Village project has been put into receivership by the City of Vancouver. Says the Vancouver Sun‘s Jeff Lee:

The long and troubled history of the Vancouver Olympic village took another severe turn Wednesday when the city put Millennium Water, the owners of the village, into receivership.

The action came as the city grew increasingly concerned about the company’s prospects to repay nearly $750 million in taxpayer-provided construction loans, amid a stalled agreement over how to market the 480 remaining units in Southeast False Creek.

Under the terms, Millennium Water voluntarily agreed to the receivership, in which Ernst & Young will take over management of the project.

However, the city had warned Millenium’s owners, the Malek brothers, that it would force the company into receivership unless they agreed to certain terms. The city had a date with B.C. Supreme Court Wednesday afternoon but the Malek brothers agreed to the terms shortly before court was to sit.

Last month in response to an article by developer Rob Macdonald in the Vancouver Sun, we shared Rob’s views that a "Toxic Mud Fight" would ensue, and the mother of all legal battles would cripple the City. It would appear that a big legal battle with the developer has been avoided, but at what cost? Did the City get anything from Millennium, or are they walking away with the majority of the assets with taxpayers holding the bag?

And what of the deal with Ernst & Young – how much is that going to cost Vancouver?

To see that the City is taking over this project, after assuring Vancouver voters that they had a plan to rescue and successfully market the Olympic Village, is absolutely shocking. Mayor Gregor Robertson’s public statements last year describing the Village as a "train wreck" and saying citizens would be "on the hook" for a huge bill, have according to critics cost Vancouver taxpayers nearly $200 million in value for this project.

As Coun. Suzanne Anton stated in Jeff Lee’s story: “Ever time he opened his mouth he put a black cloud over the village.”

The question we should ask about the Village now is, who is in line to take it over? There have been rumours for weeks that Millennium would be pushed off this project so another developer could step in. Who might that developer be, and how much have they donated to Vision Vancouver?

Taxpayers must also know whether the units will be put up for sale, or if Vision Vancouver will keep many of them aside as rental properties as part of a boast of creating "affordable housing."

This Olympic Village calamity accelerated after the decision by Vision Vancouver to use the Olympic Village as a blunt instrument in the dying days of their 2008 election campaign, as Gregor Robertson wallowed in the embarrassment of his Skytrain fare evasion scandal.

One hopes that this will stick with voters this time next year, as they take stock of how they were duped by Robertson and his Vision colleagues, and the bills for running Southeast False Creek keep coming in.

For more background on the facts of how we got into this mess, read some previous feature reports regarding the Olympic Village development:

Mayor Gregor Robertson promised during the election campaign that he would negotiate a new deal and that it would ensure financial security for the Olympic Village development. Here are some of Robertson’s quotes of interest given that the project is now in receivership.

"There is some concern we’re going into another (economic) dip…(But) I have full confidence in the developer and the marketing taking place."The Province

"I campaigned on the promise that I would provide to the public as much information about the Olympic Village finances as possible."Georgia Straight [Check out this video after you read this quote]

"Council has directed city staff to negotiate a financial arrangement that will best protect the taxpayers of Vancouver."Georgia Straight

"Over time, [the project] will return value. It’s really a question of what steps need to be taken while the market is soft," Robertson said. "We need to be patient and remain methodical."The Province

"The city doesn’t care how the loan is paid back, whether it is from the sales of condos or from personal assets. We expect to be paid back in full and it is up to Millennium to sort out how they do that….Obviously we hope to find an agreeable solution to this. They obviously have other assets in the region that the city has registered on, but beyond that we are still working on the rest of their assets." Vancouver Sun

“We’re supporting Millennium to make sure those sales happen. It’s their job to get them sold and they owe us the outstanding balance of the loan.”The Province

Speaking about the new Olympic Village financing deal he negotiated…Robertson said "It also gives us the flexibility to negotiate better terms after the Olympics, coming closer to ensuring that the taxpayers of Vancouver reap the benefits of this investment. We have gone from an agreement that was clearly not in the interests of taxpayers, to an agreement that puts Vancouver’s taxpayers first."news release

"So, what does this [new financing deal] mean for Vancouver? It means no completion guarantee to Fortress. It means no financial guarantees to Fortress. It means we negotiated a great deal for taxpayers…

"And it means we are now in control — that we have the flexibility we need to achieve the best return on investment for the people of Vancouver."news release

See also: Court document for Millennium Water going into receivership

– post by Mike

Leadership is not a bowl of cherries
Another flip flop from Vision Park Board

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  • Max

    Can anyone tell us how much the price tag was upped by pushing this project from the originally planned Leeds Gold to Leeds Platinum standards as well, how much difference it added onto the time to complete the project.
    This ALL factored into this project running into huge overtime construction costs.
    And I believe, this is what Vision pushed, not the NPA.

  • landlord

    It’s all Sam Sullivan’s fault. Or maybe Gordon Campbell. Or the tooth fairy, that bitch.
    Meggs: “Protecting our investment, showing leadership, blahblahblah, and whatever you do, don’t use the word bankruptcy”.
    Not even Mike Magee can find the positive spin on this, but it will be fun to watch him try.

  • Julia

    I think the city is going to get their ass sued for frustrating the contract. ugly, ugly, ugly.
    Who in their right mind will ever do a joint venture with the city again.

  • James

    Expect major lawsuits, or the alternative is that taxpayers are going to take a bath. Either way, this one isn’t going away before the next civic election. No way. Gregor is toast.

  • Chris

    Didn’t Gregor get elected because he was going to “fix” the olympic village issue. What a big fat liar!!!!!! Taxpayers are going to get soaked and he’s got his fingerprints all over this one. So much for his wunderkind Penny Ballem. She sure has botched this one up mighty good. Sad, so sad.

  • Jason

    Bye bye Gregor. This announcement means the city of vancouver is now looking for a new mayor. You botched this along with so many other things. The sooner you go, the better. Why don’t you pull a Gordon Campbell and do us all a favour and RESIGN! Do it now before your caucus forces you to.

  • Todd

    Dumb move. Receiver Ernst & Young will milk HUGE fees, literally $millions$ plus from their appointment.
    And sales and sale prices will even slump further due to market perceptions of this receivership appointment.
    What was looking like a financial bath for the city will now be the GREAT financial bath courtesy of Gregor & Company.

  • Janie

    Lets see, Vision won because someone leaked documents.. wink wink Raymond,
    Gregor has proven he has no business smarts.
    But we have bike lanes, and chickens and a massive debt, infighting and the loss of great civic employees like Ark, and many others.
    We have no funds to house the homeless this winter… Go Vision!! I mean literally go, before any more damage is done.
    It would appear that your ego put you in this position Gregor, and now we are all on the hook.
    Perhaps the biggest mistake made was at the Vision nomination meeting, because the only hero right now seems to be Al De Genova, the candidate that got away…someone that understood housing.
    The only bright light in this situation is that we NEVER have to worry about Gregor running for Premier!

  • Come next November the taxpayers, in rain-barrel suspenders, will be rushing to the polls in their wheelbarrows (have you seen the price of a decent bicycle lately?) to vote for anyone promising to end homelessness because by then half the residences in Vancouver will be in tax foreclosure. So maybe Vision can get elected again…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWFaDfG5vf8

  • rf

    “We’ve tried nothing and it’s not working!!!!”
    -Vision on the OV

  • Don’t be too sure about that. He’s still terribly handsome and has lots of money. Remember, you don’t have to fool all of the people all of the time.

  • janie

    The thing about good looks is that they fade,and if that’s all you’ve got…

  • Steven Forth

    I don’t get it, Mr. Sullivan created this dreadful mess and Mr. Robinson is being blamed for it?
    In regards to next year’s election, I am looking forward to seeing who runs and what the platforms are before I have an opinion on who to support.
    This blog would be more interesting if it tried to identify real issues and help people understand what the policy alternatives are.
    Anyone know of a site out there that does this?

  • Steven Forth

    What do you see as the alternatives: people, policies, parties?
    My percpetion, even after having read many of the posts on this tedious website, is that Mr. Robinson and Vision are doing a better than average job and that in many areas they have coherent policies: chickens, gardens and bikes can all be seen as icons of a future for Vancouver.

  • Tim

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…keel over…Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…fall on the ground…Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.
    Stevie poo, your golden boy and his commie loving visionistas are going down. I’m planning the parade route already. Perhaps it should go down through the Athlete’s Village.
    PS Gordon Campbell should also resign now. He too is becoming a joke

  • Eric

    Looks like the Ghost Village is totally unsalable now. This is going to cost Vancouver taxpayers mucho.
    Gregor is going to try and try and try to spin the “it’s not our fault” baloney. The only way he can fill the Platinum Village is with those that have no money and knowing him he might just do that because deep down he wants the state to own everything.
    One thing is for sure, the price of parking is going up again and they’ll almost certainly impose some sort of tax on any car that moves, with double rates for out of towners and commuters. That’s where they see the revenue and that’s who they hate.
    Janie’s post is great.

  • Fripp

    Steven, take some time to read the “tedious” evidence that Vision and COPE were responsible for this mess, as well as Michael Geller’s well-considered analysis on why it was Gregor that has cost the taxpayers the most.
    Then go throw a blanket over your head.

  • Troy

    Steven Forth appears to be so hooked on the Happy Planet juice he can’t see sense. Steven, since you understand the Olympic Village so well, please explain exactly why the NPA are supposedly at fault.

  • eric

    Steven Forth. You don’t get it because you drank the Happy Planet Kool Aid.
    Here’s the antidote. It’s called the verbatim facts:
    http://www.citycaucus.com/2010/09/olympic-village-decisions-defined-political-differences

  • Troy

    We’re agreed. Forth needs to cut back on Happy Planet juice 🙂

  • Eric

    Troy. They say that great minds think alike.
    We must have been typing in unison.

  • The Angry Taxpayer

    HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAH ooohhh, my god, HOHOHOHOO, HooHa!
    What Tim, Eric, Fripp and Troy said.
    Stevey, you need to take your act on the road…

  • Steven Forth

    Very witty, meaningless, like the rest of your comments, but very clever.

  • Rachel

    Could it be that we are witnessing the demise of both Robertson and Campbell all in one week! Yipppeeeee…the wicked witch is dead. Time to clean the slate and start with some new fresh leadership.

  • Steven Forth

    Perhaps, but who, and with what policies?

  • janie

    which is it, witty, meaningless or clever?

  • Steven Forth

    Do you have any business experience at all? Bankruptcies and restructurings happen all the time, they are part of the market system and they often end up creating value. It will be fun to watch how this plays out, but I dount that I will learn anything from this site. I keep coming back for a few more weeks though, and see if anyone has anything meaningful to say.

  • boohoo

    Don’t you get it Steven? It doesn’t matter. You could put a monkey up against vision and some people will vote for the monkey.
    And then 2-3 years later they’ll say ‘how arrogrant this monkey is!’ and on and on it goes.

  • Steven Forth

    Your point escapes me.

  • janie

    Council meeting tomorrow to discuss the future of Mt. Pleasant and monster development project should prove interesting after this…

  • Steven Forth

    Out of curiosity, do people think that buildings should be built to some sort of green standard, LEEDS or other?

  • Paul

    @Steven it’s called democracy. If you don’t like it, they’d welcome you with open arms in China. It works so much better there. The government always has 100% approval rating.

  • Max

    Steven:
    Most people have zero problems seeing buildings built to a Leeds Standards.
    What went wrong here was Vision pushing the developer to take the already planned Leeds Gold to Leeds Platinum with zero time running on the clock to get Olympic Village finished.
    This not only pushed costs up for materials but hugely in labour as they were working 24/7 to get it completed in time.
    As well, at one point the NPA looked at removing roughly $50 million worth of amenities in order to stem the costs which were reinstated by Vision and COPE.
    Run back on some research and see the letter Robertson sent to the at time NPA pleading to spend the $50M – Robertson was still an NDP MLA at the time.
    Now pushing the developer into receivership is going to kill sales. The negative messaging already put out by Vision and Robertson has already proved to hurt things, this is another nail in that coffin.
    I can only imagine what real estate sales guru Bob Rennie is thinking….after all, he is Vision’s chosen Messiah to pull their collective asses out of this growing garbage dump of a mess.

  • HIGH TAXES.

  • Nick

    This is great news for Gregor. He doesn’t have to deal with a lawsuit during the civic election.
    However, it’s bad news for taxpayers, as we’re going to get hosed.
    Voters will have to decide whether the mayor made the right decision.

  • Frankly Speaking

    Why all the secrecy surrounding the deal Ballem/Robertson cut with millennium development? Global tv reports the city forced them to sign a nondisclousure agreement. Also known as a gag clause. What the hell is up with that?
    We deserve the right to know all the facts regarding this so-called “deal” between the city and the developer. How much did the city get as a payment? Why won’t Robertson reveal this to the public? Didn’t he campaign on openness and transparency regarding olympic village finances? What a crock. He deserves to be given the boot along with Campbell.

  • rf

    I can’t figure out who’s comments are more boring; Steven Forth or Sally Forth.

  • Max

    Ken:
    It took Campbell 6 + years before his administration derailed.
    It’s taken Robertson and Vision Vancouver 1.5.
    I think a new record.
    T-shirts anyone?

  • Max

    Love it.
    Robertson was on Global this morning blaming the ‘previous administration’.
    Remind us again: didn’t ‘someone’ with the Vision/COPE administration out the at that time financial negotitations in order to get elected and in-turn took over those negotiations because, they could do it so much better????
    Let’s face it, Robertson, Ballam and Vision couldn’t successfuly manage the oompa loompas in the gob-stopper factory, let alone a project of this magnitude

  • Jennifer

    so funny. you have two Canadian hotties on the front cover of 24 hours. One is a successful multi-millionaire hollywood sex symbol with adoring fans.
    While the other is a GQ wannabee, green loving, bicycle obsessed, washed up mayor with a multi-million dollar boondoggle on his hands. gregor should head south to LA, he might get a better reception.

  • Ken

    Breaking News: Robertson blames “previous council” for all the decisions he made on the olympic village SINCE he got elected.
    What next, he blames Sam Sullivan for the new designer glasses he just bought which try to make him look smart.
    Robertson forgets that his vision colleagues were part of the “previous council” and were all voting for the Millennium project. In fact, I believe they wanted more goodies to be added on to the project. Didn’t citycaucus publish a letter from MLA Gregor Robertson where he pleaded with the “previous council” not to cut anything out of the development? I can’t find it.
    He is a big hypocrite. full stop

  • Steven Forth

    Yes, it is called democracy. Look who got elected. Not Peter Ladner, not Sam Sullivan. Should be an interesting election. Do you have anyone to propose, any policies you are advocating?

  • Steven Forth

    Thank you Max. Finally some useful comment. I personally will only put my companies into Leeds Platinum buildings and am willing to pay up to a 7% premium to do so, but lease is a tiny fraction of our operating costs. I have not looked at Leeds for residential so I have no opinion.
    It will be interesting to see if the NPA can come up with a credible candidate. I think they will need to find someone that is not associated with the previous adminstrations if they want to use this as an issue against Vision. This will have no impact on my vote or who I support. I want to look at actual policies.

  • foo

    Steven Forth,
    If you’re looking for unbiased, thoughtful coverage of the civic scene, try here:
    http://www.civicscene.ca
    I’m sure you’ll feel much more satisfied over there.

  • boohoo

    Oh foo, give me a break. That site is no more unbiased than this one…
    You guys are so ridiculous with your little camps.

  • Steven Forth

    Thanks. But I am not looking for people who agree with me. I don’t always agree with me. What happened to ” Our goal here is to have a fun, but respectful dialogue about Canada’s major urban centres, and we hope you will participate in “the conversation” by providing comments that stick to the issues, and do not stoop to name-calling or personal attacks. We won’t always agree with each other, but the interchange must always be civil.”

  • janie

    Steven,
    Try “Keepin it Real” Harvey Oberfeld

  • douglas

    Having observed this ‘civil’ little site for a while, my thinking is they cut and pasted that line from another blog.
    Got another one for you:
    “Personal attacks, offensive language and unsubstantiated allegations are not allowed”

  • Steven Forth

    Thanks, can’t seem to find it, could you provide a url? I prefer sites where people have opposing views on policy issues that they work through. That and sites that surface issues I have never thought about.

  • Ken

    @ Steven
    Does this mean there is hope you will troll another site and leave us all alone? Please, say it’s so. Go over to Harvey’s site with all your high and mighty sanctimony, I’m sure he’ll just love it. NOT.

  • Steven Forth

    Sure Ken, can you share the URL?

  • janie

    Try Google just like I Google’d you, come on you’re a smart guy. We can’t spoon feed you everything.
    Actually the readers here are very quick I sent you there tongue in cheek, and you answered my questions.
    Troll elsewhere…

  • Steven Forth

    Ah yes, this guy http://harveyoberfeld.ca/blog/ I’ll try reading it for a while. Anyone who disagree’s with you is a troll I take it. Yawn.

  • janie

    I didn’t disagree with you Steven, I gave you direction as you requested.
    Your arrogant response (Yawn) just proves my (and others) opinion of your commentary…
    hard to make friends with people if you look down your nose when trying to interact.
    Play nice in the playground it might serve you well.

  • @Steven
    “I prefer sites where people have opposing views on policy issues that they work through.”
    On this thread’s comment, you asked for evidence, I provided. It was your turn to work through the opposing view. Still waiting on that, otherwise I’m left with the impression you provide nothing more than the type of commentary you’re being critical of.

  • “Could the people of Vancouver actually be stupid enough to vote this Wing Nut Mayor and Kanagaroo Council back in after the November 2011 Election. Gregor Robertson is looking more like Gordon Campbell all the time in the last few months or maybe a year!”
    Oh you bet they will. He is handsome after all. Not to mention “progressive” and “green”. That’s all they need.

  • “Your point escapes me.
    Steven Forth replied to comment from boohoo | November 17, 2010 7:38 PM |”
    Unsurprisingly…

  • Max

    I wonder.
    Two weeks ago, the social housing portion of the Village was railroaded through at break neck speed. According to the Mayor and Vision/COPE Council members, there was no possible way City Council could push forward the debate for two weeks. (Remember – according to Raymond Louie, there were people dying in the streets)
    And now we have this announcement.
    I wonder if the Co-Op Housing Group that was appointed by the City knew about them sending this into receivership or it they were blind sided.
    I wonder, had they known, if it would have affected their negations with the City. There were aspects that the groups were already having a problem dealing with ie; taking on the market rental units as well as the social housing aspect. They had to pay monies up-front.
    Very interesting…..

  • Sally Forth

    “…sites that surface issues I have never thought about”.
    That either really narrows the field or indicates a chronic lack of imagination. One way or the other the Olympian perspective is getting old.
    Lighten up, have a beer, take the stick out of your ass. It’s just words. Nobody really gives any more of a damn what you say than you give a damn what they say. That’s what’s meant by “fun”.
    If you want policy discussion attend a meeting of Vancouver City Council. Oh wait, that all goes on in camera where your views don’t matter.

  • foo

    You’re completely unable to detect sarcasm?

  • Glissando Remmy

    The Thought of The Past Two Years
    “I Told You So!”
    When I wrote this I was in a sad mood given the circumstances. By the time I finished it I was back, happy puppy!
    Those Vision scoundrels, I knew they are not going to disappoint…
    I dedicate the following ‘Roundel’ to all the Bozos that supported and voted for Vision Vancouver in the past, even more to those who think they are going to do it again…this, is for you!
    THE VANCLOWNSTERS
    ‘The Vancracker’ is coming to town,
    Vision Ballet is in rehearsal,
    Their Master is The Clown,
    Chariots of Fools are Universal.
    The Lady of Sorrow is down,
    She wishes for a Reversal,
    Their Master is The Clown,
    Chariots of Fools are Universal.
    Puffin ‘n Clucking they Frown,
    A total Chicken Dispersal,
    ‘VANSTUPID’ should be a Noun,
    Double crossed – Transversal.
    Their Master is The Clown.

    For other opinions, go here:
    http://www.citycaucus.com/2010/09/olympic-village-mess#comments
    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  • boohoo

    foo, the sad thing is, there’s nothing in your post that gives it away as being sarcastic.

  • foo

    I thought using the words “unbiased”, “thoughtful” and “civicscene.ca” in the same sentence would make it pretty obvious that sarcasm was involved.

  • Eric

    Today I drove around the Village. As regards warm bodies I did see one guy walking and two guys together chatting but that was it. There was a city truck with a couple of guys in it and I just had that funny feeling as they looked at me. The feeling you might have if you pull into a little town out in the boonies and stop at the gas station – everyone looks at you because ‘you ain’t from around here’.
    London Drugs is still “Opening Soon’ but there are no fixtures and nobody inside. The beautiful Community Centre is open but I could only see the receptionist and I think she was on the ‘phone.
    Across 1st Avenue the Wall Centre has lowered their prices from ‘Under $400,000’ in August, to ‘From $349,000’.
    I wonder if the City has given to receiver any time limit in which to blow the units out by.
    If I offer $300,000 for last years $1 million penthouse does the agent have to run it by City Hall?

  • Gregor T. Hollyhock

    Groucho: Room service? Send up a larger room.
    FROM CTV NEWS:
    Olympic Village owners ask for money back in lawsuit
    Dozens of owners at Vancouver’s former Olympic Village are suing the city, asking for their money back for what they say is “inferior design and craftsmanship” in their high-priced condos….
    In some cases, doors will slam into each other if they’re opened at the same time. In others, residents aren’t able to open their closet doors if anything larger than a double bed is placed in the master bedroom.
    “Not being able to fit a queen-sized bed in a master bedroom is a major design flaw,” McMillan said….
    the entire link is here…..
    http://www.ctvbc.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20110316/bc_olympic_village_lawsuit_110316/20110316?hub=BritishColumbiaHome

  • I have an idea of what a software developer salary is, but what might it be for a freelance software developer?