In May 2014, Dongdu International Group (DDI), a Shanghai-based international real estate, high technology and lifestyle oriented company, announced plans to carry out a multi-phased plan of investment and development in Halifax and other areas of Nova Scotia.
During the announcement last spring, DDI signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Halifax Partnership and Nova Scotia Business Inc. (NSBI) to formalize the company’s investment intentions in Nova Scotia. The Halifax Partnership and NSBI are now working with DDI to manage potential major investments in the province and trade opportunities between China and Nova Scotia.
“Nova Scotia and Halifax have an abundance of well-educated people, many universities and international students, beautiful scenery, interesting tourist attractions, as well as superior transportation linkages and emerging new technologies, all of which make it a compelling location for DDI to establish its first Canadian location,” said DDI Founder, Chairman and CEO, Marvin H.L. Li.
DDI currently has a team of four working in Halifax headed by Stephen Dempsey, Vice-President at DDI Canada. To date, DDI has acquired nine properties in Nova Scotia and one property management company.
In 2013, DDI acquired the historic Pacific Building on Barrington Street in Halifax, and according to Bill Hunt, DDI’s local project manager, the company is planning a redevelopment in the future including restoring the terracotta cladding to the circa 1911 building.
DDI has also announced plans for two resorts on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia that could ultimately include 1,000 dwellings. Construction on the first resort on 300 acres of land in Marie Joseph, dubbed Atlantic Shores, will start in the spring of 2015 pending government approvals. Marketing of those properties – one acre lots with roughly 1,200 square-foot houses –started in mid-December. There will be around 500 units in the development. Prices will average around $350,000.
In Indian Harbour Lake, where DDI owns 3,000 acres, units will average from 1 million to 1.5 million. “The access road is about 3.5 kilometres long, and the intention is to have eco-gardens and bridges crossing watercourses before you even get to the vehicle park,” said VP Stephen Dempsey.
While Dongdu will spend over $10 million designing and preparing the site, the actual construction of the homes will be paid for by the Chinese customers buying them, said Dempsey. Total investment at the location could eventually reach $500 million.
DDI intends to build strong partnerships with the Halifax Partnership, the Nova Scotia government, universities and business communities in the province, which will provide opportunities for new jobs, the development of new trading relationships, attracting tourists, and building new businesses all with mutually beneficial outcomes. DDI sees great long-term potential for the development of information technology, film and tourism sectors in Nova Scotia.
Investments in Halifax and Nova Scotia are DDI’s first in Canada, but not North America. DDI has more than 20 years of comprehensive real estate development experience, with business interests in east China, southwest China, Hong Kong, the United States and Canada. DDI has spent 16.4 million on three prominent buildings in downtown Detroit, MI, including the David Stott, old Detroit Free Press, and Clark Lofts buildings. They plan on transforming the buildings into vibrant offices and upscale apartment buildings. DDI also has real estate investments in California.
DDI was recognized as one of the top 100 real estate developers in China in 2013, the top 10 fastest growing real developers in China in 2013, one of the top employers in 2009, and has created a niche in the China’s housing culture for young Chinese leaders. The company has been recognized for innovation with projects such as: Shanghai DongDu Celebrity Building, Shanghai City Young Executives Series, Changzhou City Young Executives Series and Nanjing International Youth City.