Charan Sethi began his career as a licensed machinist in England, driven to move to Canada by the desire for better opportunities for himself and his young family. Shortyly afterrelocating to British Columbia, he was faced with the reality that –even as skilled trade – he had little job security or growth opportunity. It was then he decided upon a career as a Realtor, becoming licensed in 1985. From the beginning, he was tactful in his craft. He made sure to stay close to the best in the market, working at both Century 21 and RE/MAX, and earning a variety of awards in the process. Through his work as a realtor, he was also introduced to the project development industry. In turn, he learned how to become a one-stop shop for Real Estate Developer clients, streamlining services like “assembling, rezoning, designing, selling and servicing new home projects.”
In 2001, Sethi made his original forays into development through niche single-family and multi-family projects, which not only heeded some unique housing models but also some additional industry award recognition. For his efforts, he received a Gold Georgie Award from the Greater Vancouver Homebuilders’ Association for Excellence in Private/Public Partnership Creating Affordable Housing. He was also a finalist for Best Single-Family Detached Home Under 2,000 Sq. Ft. The recognition and field experience he received through what he considered to be his “apprenticeship” period prompted Sethi to completely immerse himself into the development industry. He founded Tien Sher Group of Companies in 2006 and thus began his new journey.
Tien Sher was created with the goal of creating housing affordability through innovative new home solutions for the changing needs of home buyers. Over the last decade, it has evolved into a mid-sized, vertically-integrated development and construction company that strives to provide future-friendly home projects for the changing needs of Metro Vancouver area homebuyers. Tien Sher’s first major development was a 29-unit townhome project, Jade Gardens, designed to revitalize Richmond’s MacLennan North neighbourhood. Its’ luxuriously finished, two-storey duplex townhomes helped set the tone for the company’s forthcoming market-focused projects, as well as its desire to appeal to the demand of future homebuyers.
Based on his confidence in Tien Sher’s success as well as the growing potential for transit-oriented-developments (TOD), Sethi had also previously purchased 12 acres in the Whalley neighbourhood of the City of Surrey. Both he and City officials realized the opportunity that existed with revitalizing the area, with the latter announcing the decision to relocate City Hall and rebrand Whalley as Surrey’s new downtown: “City Centre”. Sethi had planned to elaborate on the proposed “city within a city objective,” laying plans for the Quattro block, the Balance block and the Flamingo block – each with their own unique features guaranteed to appeal to future residents.
Currently, several of Tien Sher’s projects within the Surrey master plan have been completed, thus proving their potential within Sethi’s vision. Of Quattro’s desired five multi-family buildings –two of which incorporating commercial and live/work units – Quattro1 became the fastest-selling condo building in Metro Vancouver in under four hours, with construction now complete and the building occupied; Quattro2 beat the previous record, selling out in just over an hour; Quattro 3 became B.C.’s first six-story wood-frame condo building under the Province’s revised building code; and Quattro4 (Venue) is now under construction and already 95 percent sold out. Tien Sher’s developments have also gained recognition from the Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association Ovation Awards, the City of Surrey New Design Awards, the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board’s Commercial Building Awards, and the aforementioned Georgie Awards.
Balance stands across the street as B.C.’s first-ever for-sale microsuite building. Its ready access to transit and amenities – along with its average of 358 sq. ft. of floor space per unit – drew buyers in, as it allowed the opportunity to pay less without excess. Nominated for several awards, the development also attracted media from both Canada and the United States, hoping to provide a similar concept to their own respective markets. Lastly, within the Surrey group, the in-development process Flamingo block will serve as a gateway to the City Centre, featuring a combination of commercial, retail, mid-rise and high-rise residential towers. Once completed, Tien Sher aims to have more than 1,900 residents and 35,000 square feet of commercial office space within the Flamingo project.
In addition to the development of Surrey’s City Centre, Tien Sher has also developed, built and sold out townhome projects over the years. Within the New Westminster neighbourhood of Queensborough, they built Alexander Walk, English Mews 1 and English Mews 2. The former consisted of 38 fully-detached and duplex townhomes as well as a two-unit mixed use “corner store” building, while the two latter projects featured 61 row-style townhomes with modern appointments and floor plans. Additional projects in the City of Richmond also included Parkside Estates and Jade. The first featured 13 row-style townhomes in mixed sizes with contemporary floor plans and finishes, while the second featured 24 row-style townhomes with open floor plans, high-end finishes and a market-exclusive solar option. For these projects, Tien Sher gained finalist status for a variety awards, but also won a People’s Choice Award for Modern Commercial Residential through the New Westminster Chamber of Commerce Royal City Builders’ Awards.
Going forward, Tien Sher and Sethi have a variety of projects in different stages. For the aforementioned Surrey master plan, Balance 2, Quattro 5 and Flamingo continue to move closer toward reality within the building approval process. They also plan to expand upon their work within New Westminster’s Queensborough community with 24 visually-striking modern row-style townhomes, along with a paired anchor commercial building. An unnamed mixed-use low-rise in Richmond’s Stevenson community is also seeking a permit, with the hopes of building 16 family-sized condos in two storeys, featuring a rooftop amenity and a garden above a ground-level, street-oriented commercial level. The company has also begun building Kings Walk in North Vancouver, a development centred around a restored two-unit heritage home. When finished, 17 modern heritage-inspired townhomes will also accompany the original building.
Sethi is a firm believer in giving back to the community through charitable endeavours, outreach and programs. As a member of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce through the company, he has been recognized for their Business Excellence Awards for Business Leadership. He has also placed as finalist for Business Person of the Year through the Surrey Board of Trade’s Business Excellence Awards, as well as a winner of the Greater Vancouver Home Builder’s Association’s Handshake Award. The company has also been recognized as both a winner and finalist with the Greater Vancouver Homebuilder’s Association; they are a current member there, as well as with the Urban Development Institute and the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association.