We have been a private investor in Westbank since 1999 and applaud Ian Gillespie's energy and professionalism. - 太太

Ian Gillespie, the youthful head of the successful Westbank Projects development firm, has never lost the instinct to run hard and 'think outside the box' the way we do which is why we have a long standing relationship.

The opening line was briefly visible this week, but now is carefully covered up. It reads: "lying on top of a building ... the clouds looked no nearer

When injury brought an end to a highly promising middle-distance running career, the now 40-year-old Gillespie simply exchanged his spikes for more sedate business shoes and kept on running.

With 28 profitable real-estate development ventures behind him and some spectacular new ones under way, Gillespie is your quintessential modern-day business warrior with a strong sense of decency and a desire to leave his construction and design mark on Vancouver.

"My message to any young person entering the business world is they should focus on building strong, lasting relationships with the people around them," he says. "When you surround yourself with a small group of people, all of whom have a high level of trust in one another, you will succeed."

With $1.2 billion in completed or currently under development projects, Gillespie has been content to beaver away largely out of the glare of publicity. At least up until now.

Teaming with Shaw Communications Inc. and construction giant Ledcor Properties to build the $150-million Shaw Tower on the Vancouver waterfront in Coal Harbour has thrust Gillespie into the limelight.

He wants to leave his mark through architectural excellence, and long-term friend and architect James K. M. Cheng has designed a spectacular flat-iron-style building that will dominate the harbour skyline.

Construction on the ambitious 149-metre residential/work tower, the highest in the city so far, is under way. The 40-storey tower will have 16 levels of offices.

Realtor Bob Rennie, who works with Gillespie on his developments, says Gillespie is a very unassuming but extremely creative person: "He really understands that architecture is important and sells. When you look at a postcard from Vancouver in 2005 it will show the Shaw Tower and the Five Sails of Canada Harbour Place. That will be one of Gillespie's marks on the town."

Gillespie, who is also building the largest U.S. mixed-use complex west of the Mississippi in Bellevue, Wash., says he doesn't build purely for development sake.

"Land use, responsible land use, with well-designed buildings is important. There are plenty of examples of crappy land use," he says.

So how did a kid who grew up in Port Coquitlam and became a runner get into the hurly burly life of a developer?

After a brief stint on a track scholarship at Cal State -- 800 metres was his distance -- he got hurt and came home where he trained with Dr. Doug Clement, whom he describes as a friend and mentor. Leg surgery followed and he nearly made the Olympic team in 1984, coming third at trials. "Only two went," he says.

Running career over, Gillespie turned to completing a business degree at the University of B.C. and then an MBA at the University of Toronto before learning the real-estate ropes at Schroeder Properties in Vancouver.

"I decided to strike out by myself in the early '90s," he said.

He struck up a relationship with Hok Meng Heah, a businessman running Abbey Woods Development Ltd. -- the Canadian property arm of Asian business baron Robert Kuok. "Mr. Heah taught me a great deal about business," he says.

Teaming with Heah and the Kuoks was fruitful and they went on to develop a series of high-profile and profitable projects in Greater Vancouver, including the $100-million Residences on Georgia, the $66-million twin tower Palisades downtown and the $32-million Ironwood Plaza in Richmond among others.

When the Kuoks shifted their business activities from property to high tech, Gillespie successfully engineered a buyout of Abbey Woods and took the firm private. "I don't believe real-estate companies should be public," he says.

Gillespie says he is not really in business to make money. "I never dreamed I would be as successful as I have. But I am in this because of a love for the creative process."

He admits his creative juices rarely stop flowing and often wakes up in the night thinking about new ways to do things.

Is there any chance the U.S. might lure him away permanently? "Never! To do business yes, but never to live."

The profit margins may be better in the U.S. but Canadians are better in construction. "My experience in the U.S. has only made me more patriotic as a Canadian," he says.   - by  Ashley Ford       The Province       30 June 2002

  Photo by Malcolm Parry 2009 November
Concord Pacific's Terry Hui with Westbank's Ian Gillespie

Photograph by : Stuart Davis, Vancouver Sum

Poetry embraces Vancouver hotel tower
Verse by British artist wraps around Fairmont's new downtown property

If you walk by the corner of Burrard and Cordova next summer, you'll be able to admire the city's newest hotel tower and read poetry at the same time.

The text of an original poem by British artist Liam Gillick will wrap around the southern and eastern exteriors of the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel, running all the way up to the 23rd floor.

Project developer Ian Gillespie won't reveal the rest of the text, which will be unveiled when the hotel opens next year. But he expects to spend significantly more than the $767,000 budgeted for the public art component of the Fairmont development.

Gillespie noted the Shaw Tower had a public art budget of about $400,000 but he spent more than $1 million creating an LED light-tube art installation that extends along the entire height of that building.

"The piece I put on the Shaw Tower added more value to the building than I paid and I know the value of the Fairmont piece will add more value than I'm going to put into it," he said in an interview.

Gillespie, president of Westbank Projects Corp., said public art in Vancouver needs some "pizzazz" and the poetry-on-building concept is a step in the right direction.

"Much of the public art in Vancouver is very subtle, but this piece is not subtle and the piece at [the Woodward's project at Hastings and Carrall] is not subtle," he said. "I wanted them to grab you by the throat and make a difference.

"You're going to walk or drive by that building and you won't forget it."

Westbank is also developing the Woodward's project and has commissioned Vancouver artist Stan Douglas to create a large photographic mural of the area's living history that will be displayed in the development's public atrium.

Gillespie said the recreated shot of a historical scene speaks to the history of Woodward's in a "very dynamic way" and Douglas plans to unveil the work at a New York exhibition in October.

He said people will be fascinated by Gillick's poem on the new hotel building.

"It's about the fact that whether you're a billionaire or a regular Joe walking down the street, your perception of reality may be the same," Gillespie said. "There's a bit of a social statement there."

He said art inside the new hotel rooms will "play off" the theme created by the outside text.   - 2008 August 28   By Bruce Constantineau

Westbank Project Acquires Abbey Woods

AWD Acquisition Ltd., a subsidiary of Westbank Holdings Ltd., completed the acquisition of 19,895,296 common shares, or approximately 97.5%, of the outstanding common shares of Abbey Woods Developments Limited tendered under its Offer to all shareholders in August  2000.   AWD Acquistion is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Westbank Holdings, a private company controlled by Ian Gillespie and engaged in commercial real estate development in British Columbia and the United States.

AWD Acquisition Ltd. entered into an agreement with six of the principal shareholders of Abbey Woods Developments Limited which are affiliated with the Kuok Group, Far East, pursuant to which those shareholders have agreed to tender the 12,550,000 Common Shares owned by them, representing approximately 61.5% of the issued and outstanding Common Shares, to the purchase.

AWD Acquisition Ltd.  financed the purchase with support from  HSBC Capital (Canada) Inc. for $14,450,000 in acquisition financing. Westbank Holdings Ltd. also has support from HSBC Bank Canada for the continuation of credit facilities to subsidiaries of Abbey Woods Developments Limited in the amount of approximately $43,000,000.  A further commitment from North Point Capital Corp. provides $8,000,000 in credit facilities for the reduction of obligations of AWD Acquisition Ltd. and Abbey Woods Developments Limited and its subsidiaries, as and when required.

The group privatized the company in time.

 Ian Gillespie, the Westbank Projects Corp. owner, must be happy at the B.C. government teaming with Bentall Capital to build a $495-million convention centre expansion on the Coal Harbour waterfront. The low-rise complex won't mask -- and may enhance -- much of the sublime view from the 450-foot Shaw Tower Gillespie is building in partnership with Ledcor Properties and Shaw Communications.

The James Cheng-designed Shaw Tower, however, will effectively wall in the Guinness Building, as well as slice a big arc from the venerable Marine Building's already-reduced purview.

Such view-reduction is an ongoing game as tall buildings rise in front of each other's prime locations. Such leapfrogging got panned 30 years ago, when Architectural Institute of B.C. brass had esteemed Chicago architect Nathaniel Owings stroll downtown and give members a report card on their then-recent labours. After inspecting the tall-for-the-time Guinness, Baxter and other buildings on Hastings Street's north side, Owings faced the assembled architects -- as though they were to blame -- and sternly asked why they'd blocked off the harbour-and-mountain panorama.   -  by Malcolm Parry     Vancouver Sun      22 June 2002

Construction to start at Coal Harbour site and end of month

Construction of what will become Vancouver's tallest building, a $150-million, 40-storey residential-commercial tower, is scheduled to start at the end of this month on a prime waterfront location in Coal Harbour.

At 489 feet (149 metres), the Shaw Tower would eclipse the downtown Bentall Four, Scotia Tower, Park Place and One Wall Centre -- all 450 feet (139 metres) tall -- although the Wall Centre at Burrard and Nelson stands on the downtown core's highest point of land.

"Shaw Tower will be an exciting addition to our over-all Coal Harbour development and the skyline of downtown Vancouver," said Graeme Stamp, executive vice-president of Marathon Developments Inc., which recently sold the 1.3-acre property for $25.2 million to a consortium led by Westbank Projects Corp.

"This is the second Coal Harbour site we have sold to Westbank Projects, and we are impressed by their commitment to design excellence in their projects."

Owned by Vancouver developer Ian Gillespie, Westbank just completed Dockside, a $17-million, 49-unit condo project at Hastings and Nicola streets, in a joint venture with Wall Financial Corp.

Westbank, which earlier built the $100-million Residences On Georgia and the $66-million Palisades twin towers downtown, is developing the 532,000-square-foot Shaw Tower in partnership with Ledcor Properties Inc. and Shaw Communications.

An estimated 450 jobs are expected to be created by Gillespie's latest project during the 18 months it will take to build.

Designed by architect James Cheng, the tower, located behind the Marine Building near Cordova and Thurlow, is just south of the site proposed for the $495-million expansion to the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre.

"What we've got is the premier site in Vancouver when you think of its location on the waterfront and its proximity to the city's central business district," Gillespie said Tuesday.

Shaw Cablesystems, the country's second largest cable-TV company, will be the anchor tenant, leasing 12 floors of office space to house its B.C. regional headquarters, to be relocated from Burnaby's Metrotown.

"Shaw Tower will accommodate two large customer service call centres, the engineering group, a fibre-optic network design team and a retail centre, all focusing on providing our customers with the highest level of support for all our products and services," said Peter Bissonnette, president of Calgary-based Shaw Communications.

Ledcor plans to occupy three floors as its Vancouver headquarters, while Westbank intends to take half of one floor.

Rennie Marketing Systems has been contracted to market the 130 strata-titled units on the top 24 floors, which will be suitable for living purposes or working space.

"The Shaw Tower is a very progressive development that will satisfy a very demanding, view-oriented demographic in our city," said realtor Bob Rennie, who plans to launch his sales campaign in July.

The live-work units will range in price from $350,000 to about $5.5 million.

Project financing is being provided by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, TD Canada Trust and Bank of Nova Scotia.    - by Wyng Chow, Vancouver Sun        February 2002

Construction of the city's tallest building will begin in the Coal Harbor redevelopment by the end of this month.

The James K.M. Cheng Architects Inc.-designed tower, with 532,000 square feet of space at 149 metres is higher by a mere 30.5 centimetres than the 148.7-metre Sheraton Wall Centre.

Next in line are Scotia Tower and Park Place at 137 m.

Wall Centre however stands on a 21-metre hill making it the highest standing structure in the city.

Partners Ledcor Properties Inc., Westbank Projects Corp. and Shaw Communications Inc. announced yesterday the $150 million, 40-storey Shaw Tower will anchor the eastern side of the billion dollar-plus inner harbour redevelopment.

Early indications are it will be popular with buyers. The $5.5 million penthouse has already been reserved by an offshore buyer.

It will occupy a half-hectare site bordered on the west by the extension of Thurlow St,; and on the south by the extension of Cordova St,, currently under construction by Marathon Developments Inc., and on the north by the planned extension of Canada Place Way.

The building is also strategically adjacent to the planned new Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre and future arts complex and will link the central business district to the inner harbour.

The first 16 levels will be office space, while the upper 24 levels will have 130 live-work units.

Sales agent Bob Rennie said that is marketing the units, says the tower is unique in that it takes advantage of new, progressive flexible zoning.

"Shaw Tower will offer the homeowner an opportunity to hang their business license in their home and the flexibility to use their space as office-only, residential-only, or any combination that works for them, which wasn't possible before.

"Units will range from $350,000 to $5.5 million."

It will be completed in late 2004 and is being financed by Toronto Dominion Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.  - by Ashley Ford    The Province

City's tallest building will have a unique foundation 
Shaw Tower architects had to envision street grid

When they begin a design project, architects typically have a clear image of the streets that will frame their building. But Vancouver's future tallest building, the 146-metre high Shaw Tower, is now under construction, even though part of its surrounding street grid is nothing more than air.

"This site was very challenging because the ground plate doesn't exist right now," said architect James Cheng of the 40-storey live-work building developed by a consortium led by Westbank Projects Corp.

The Shaw Tower construction site is to the west of the Marine building at Burrard and Hastings streets.

Just north is land owned by Marathon Developments Inc. that is frequently mentioned as the future site for a $495-million expansion to the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Cheng said Marathon and the City of Vancouver know the road system is needed for the future convention centre expansion and a new performing arts centre and worked with him to fit the Shaw Tower's needs into that grand plan.

Cordova and Thurlow streets will both be extended to join a new overpass jutting down toward a waterfront road.

Canada Place Way will also extend to the new elevated road system.

Underneath those roads, SkyTrain will run and riders will be able to peer out from the underground line to the convention centre's loading bays, service roads, parking lots and bus-only areas, Cheng said. Marathon has finished the caissons to support the Cordova Road expansion and other infrastructure work is ongoing to help keep the Shaw building's construction on schedule. It is due to open sometime in 2004.

Cheng said aside from the complex road system plans, the biggest challenge designing the building was integrating two separate lobbies and two elevator shafts because residential tenants and office tenants will have different entrances.

General contractor Kirk Chan from Ledcor estimated that the Shaw project would create at least 450 full-time jobs during the building's 18-month construction schedule.      - Glen Korstrom    Business in Vancouver     2-8 July 2002

At a time when new Vancouver downtown living seems increasingly the same, there are some developments that stand out, that provide something different. Dockside, a new Coal Harbour urban living concept from the Westbank Projects and Wall Financial team is one of these developments.

Assuring quality from the first conception, these are the developers who created the award-winning Residences on Georgia and One Wall Centre, downtown's signature buildings.

The architect is Richard Henriquez, recipient of two Governor-General's medals for his; highly original architecture, and designer of the brand new Coal Harbour Community Centre, kitty corner from Dockside, and the lauded Presidio, 1277 Nelson and Sylvia Towers.

Now, more then ever, your investment is safe, with the architecture, the clear and confident look, and prestige location of Dockside. Dockside is the only project on the downtown peninsula which permits a full one-third of all residential units to have Dual Zoning, a rare re-sale advantage in today's technology era

Add to this the splendour of Stanley Park only three blocks away, and the same distance to the shopping options of Robson Street. The Royal Vancouver Yacht Club is steps away, and the abstracted ocean-liner architectural Dockside ensure a building as memorable as the residents set to make it their home.

has been a long-time supporter of home-grown talent Ian Gillespie and has been a private equity investor since 1999.

This photo taken at the Vancouver Art Gallery.


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