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Gilmore Estates on the block for $55 million

James Gilmore and his sons harvest peas circa 1914 on The Gilmore Estates south of Steveston Highway that is currently for sale for $55 million.  - City of Richmond Archives Photo 2001 1 3
James Gilmore and his sons harvest peas circa 1914 on The Gilmore Estates south of Steveston Highway that is currently for sale for $55 million.
— image credit: City of Richmond Archives Photo 2001 1 3

One per cent of Richmond is now for sale.

The Gilmore Estates, a massive rectangular chunk of Richmond farmland, south of Steveston Highway running all the way to the waterfront, and between No. 4 Road and Shell, comprises 10 legal titles, encompasses 324.5 acres, and boasts 800 feet of waterfront.

The asking price for this assembly? Well, as the saying goes, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.

According to realtor Cecilia Tse of Colliers International, the asking price of $55 million is spot on, considering the recent sales of farmland in the area. At least two other farmable properties are also for sale in the area south of Steveston Highway, each consisting of multi-acre parcels.

“The Gilmore Estates represent 1% of the entire land area of the City of Richmond,” a four-page colour Colliers brochure states.

It’s also billed as a “rare opportunity to acquire a unique site within the urban core with the potential for the development of numerous estate lots.”

Tse said the land was previously privately offered for sale, and only recently came to be listed publicly, with large signs erected along Steveston Highway in the last couple of weeks.

According to Richmond Child of the Fraser, by Leslie J. Ross, Gilmore Estates Ltd. tried to remove 344 acres south of Steveston Highway, next to Shell Road, from the Agricultural Land Reserve back in 1979. But Richmond city council rejected that bid.

According to a city staff report in 2000, the Gilmore Estates has been owned by Gilmore Estates Ltd. since 1974.

Craig Rowland applied on behalf of Gilmore Estates Ltd. to reconfigure the boundaries of nine lots that were in the Agricultural Land Reserve, which would essentially have divided the property into seven five-acre lots, one 16 acre lot, and one 271 acre lot. The intent in the proposal—which was ultimately rejected by council—was to permit seven new houses to be built on each five-acre lot, while allowing the continued farming of the 16-acre lot, which already had a house and heritage barn on it. The largest lot, which had a house on it, would be permitted to add three additional farm houses.

In the Aug. 22, 2000 city staff report by Holger Burke, he wrote that he denied the application “primarily because I was not convinced that the boundary realignment will allow for more efficient use of agricultural land or the better utilization of farm buildings for farm purposes.”

Staff recommended to council that the application be denied because “it will create seven “rural, residential lots” with new houses in an area which is currently being farmed and create a precedent for other development proposals in the ALR.”

As it stands today, the Gilmore Estates comprises nine civic addresses: 10500, 10400 and 10640 Steveston Hwy., 12051 and 12311 Shell Rd., 11800 and 13200 No. 4 Rd., and 10631 and 10871 Dyke Rd.

Gilmore EstatesAccording to the city staff report in 2000, aside from that year’s application, there was another bid in 1989 to rezone the area into a golf course. That was also rejected by city council.

The staff report refers to an agricultural/environmental assessment done on the Gilmore Estates by Talisman Land Resource Consultants, which found it had “very good soils and climate for agriculture.”

It contains a barn, modern farm maintenance facilities located at the southern edge of the property, as well as six houses, along with “property drainage improvements that support on-going farming operations,” the Colliers brochure states.

The historic Finn Slough residential settlement is at the southern edge of the property, but is not part of The Gilmore Estates.

The parcel is zoned AG-1 Agricultural District and is contained within the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Much of the land is currently leased out to farmers as well as the occupants of six houses.

Property taxes for the entire 324.5 acres last year was $21,907.38.

City of Richmond archivist Bill Purver said records show that The Gilmore Estates is where pioneer James Gilmore and his family first settled and farmed, although he purchased other properties and farmed other areas as well.

Gilmore was born in 1864 and was known for his herd of Holstein cattle, according to Jon Henderson’s Richmond Schools—What’s in a Name? He moved to Richmond in 1884, and served on the Richmond Police Commission from 1917 to 1928. James Gilmore Elementary was named in his honour.

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