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Olympic Village debt paid

Vancouver is officially off the hook for its $630-million debt in the trouble-ridden Olympic Village development thanks to one of the city’s most well-known businessmen.

The city has sold off the remaining 67 units to the Aquilini Group, which owns the Vancouver Canucks hockey team.

The city has also recovered an additional $70-million from the sale, which will be put into future development projects.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said the deal is “good for taxpayers” and lays to rest the notion the city wouldn’t be able to recoup its money on the project.

“I’ve been determined to ensure that taxpayers would not be left on the hook for a single cent. I am proud to say we have achieved that goal, and have done so in a way that has created a thriving waterfront neighbourhood,” he said in a statement issued to media Monday morning.

The city took on hundreds of millions in debt so the project could be completed in time for the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games, after the developer ran into financial trouble.

Sales in the hyped project didn’t live up to expectations and the developer, Millennium, came up short on a $200-million loan payment.

The $1-billion waterfront project in Vancouver’s False Creek went into voluntary receivership in November 2010, just months after it hosted athletes.

At the time, Robertson and members of his council said it would be “very difficult” to recoup taxpayer money on the project.

The Olympic Village development, housed on a former industrial site, is hailed as the catalyst for the revitalization of the surrounding neighbourhood. In 2013, it was awarded the Urban Land Institute award for urban open spaces.

Francesco Aquilini, managing director of Aquilini Group, said his company is interested in the project because the area is now one of the most popular places to live in the city.

“The City has shown sound business-like leadership that has made the Olympic Village project an attractive investment and we’re pleased to be investing in such a great neighbourhood,” said Aquilini.

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