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Vancity lists properties as credit union branch closures outpace banks

Sale-leaseback model promises responsiveness to member needs.
Vancity is selling off three properties, including 3305 Kingsway in Vancouver, as it seeks to simplify its holdings and become more responsive to community dynamics.

Vancity Credit Union has listed several prime locations in a bid to sreamline its operations.

These include two sites in Vancouver at 3395 West Broadway and 3305 Kingsway, and one in Victoria at 3075 Douglas Street.

The three listings are with Colliers, which positions them as redevelopment opportunities with strong holding income via a sale-leaseback opportunity with Vancity.

“While these properties are being sold, we have no plans to close the branches,” Vancity told Western Investor via e-mail. “These branches are located in strong market areas for Vancity and maintaining a physical branch presence in these neighbourhoods is important to us”

Vancity says it is focused on leaseback opportunities, or relocating to new sites within the same neighbourhoods.

“Transitioning to a branch-lease model enables us to better adapt to evolving member needs, neighborhood dynamics, and community changes,” it noted.

Despite having no plans to close the branches, Vancity has listed the properties at a time when branch closures by credit unions have outpaced those of bank branch closures.

Online banking has pushed scores of retail bank branches offline over the past decade, though branch numbers stayed largely steady during the pandemic.

Canadian Bankers’ Association data indicates that B.C. reported 803 bank branches under nine banners in October 2022, virtually unchanged from the 805 branches operating in October 2019.

Over the same period, the number of credit union locations in B.C. stood at 354 in December 2023, down from 375 at the end of 2019.

Questions about the dispositions were also raised at the credit union’s annual general meeting on May 8.

“During the past year, Vancity has sold $14 million worth of real estate assets as part of our ongoing business operations,” Vancity told Western Investor. “The primary goal is to reduce some of the complexities associated with site ownership and the opportunity to reinvest financial resources in Vancity. The revenue from the sale of these properties will be reinvested in Vancity.”

While no list price was given, the three properties have an assessed value of more than $23.8 million. When future development potential is factored in, the sale price for the three properties is likely to be a multiple of the assessed value.

Vancity said it’s open to partnerships with developers with the twin aims of strengthening its community presence as well as the community as a whole.  

“We are always open to considering partnerships with developers to redevelop sites when it benefits the credit union, members, and the community,” Vancity said. “To extend Vancity’s impact values, as much as possible, we will make our best effort to find values-aligned purchasers.”

A timeline for the sales has not been set.