Archive for November, 2009

Polygon presents a package with appeal – Laledeen in South Surrey

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Townhomes offer green credentials

Province

‘Awesome location,’ club facilities, also draw newlyweds to a kaleden townhouse from Polygon.

The Kaleden kitchens show fine, clean lines with built-in microwaves.

The stylish dining room in the third phase of The Polygon development company’s Kaleden new-home project. – SUBMITTED PHOTOS

Oversized pot drawers provide plenty of storage space, while the granite countertops are attractive and easy to clean.

The Facts

WHAT: Kaleden, 185 townhouses, 3 phases

WHERE: South Surrey

DEVELOPER: Polygon

SIZES: 2, 3, 4 bed; 1,300 sq. ft. — 1,900 sq. ft.

PRICES: $339,000 — $399,000

OPEN: Sales centre at 2729 158th Street, Surrey. Hours daily noon to 5 p.m., except Friday

When newlyweds Geoff and Jennifer Blighton went house-hunting, they knew exactly what they were looking for.

“The most space and amenities at the lowest price, without sacrificing quality,” Geoff says.

The couple found that in a three-bedroom end-of-row townhouse at the Kaleden new-home project in south Surrey.

There was plenty about the Kaleden townhome, one of 185 from developer Polygon, that appealed to the pair.

“The open floor plans, the ‘second home’ Evergreen Club, and the proximity to Grandview Corner combined to offer us a very appealing package,” says Geoff, who, like Jennifer, works nearby.

Another Kaleden attraction was Polygon’s reputation, Geoff says. “My sister and brother-in-law have owned a Polygon townhome and they had nothing but good things to say about their product and the customer service they offer.”

Looking down the road, Jennifer says: “We lightly considered resale value, as we knew that this would one day be a stepping stone to a single-family house. Polygon’s reputation, the awesome location, coupled with a widely appealing layout makes Kaleden easy to pitch to a second buyer.”

Resale aside, Kaleden represents townhouse residency that offers convenience, green building credentials, green space and the Evergreen Club, an on-site 7,500-square-foot private community centre with a swimming pool and hot tub.

Major freeways and White Rock’s ocean beaches are near the homes, 40 of which were still available for sale last week.

The Evergreen Club is shared with a Polygon development across the street — Cathedral Grove — and the club’s concierge helps organize a host of community events.

Entering the Evergreen Club, you’re greeted by a welcoming glass fireplace and sitting area/lounge. Bring a DVD to enjoy a private screening in the theatre, complete with a 110-inch LCD high-def projector screen. Hunker down in the comfy theatre and enjoy the show.

On the lower floor, there’s a birthday room for hosting special family events, a table tennis room and an indoor hockey arena, complete with nets, sticks and balls.

The fitness centre is equipped with treadmills, freeweights and exercise balls. Shower and change room facilities are right across the lobby; just grab your gym bag from home and go. Not up for a workout? Relax in the lounge area, or “rack up” at the pool table.

Polygon has four immaculately detailed showhomes on the Kaleden property right now that provide some wonderful decorating ideas and give prospects some ideas on how to personalize their purchases.

It’s interesting to note how quickly design elements from more expensive homes reach less expensive ones. For example, in Kaleden’s kitchens both the built-in refrigerator and dishwasher are faced in kitchen cabinetry-panelling.

Oversized pot drawers pull out smoothly and provide plenty of storage space. Granite countertops look attractive and are easy to clean, and you can select an optional granite-topped kitchen island. Other kitchen style touches include halogen track lighting, wood laminate cabinetry, ceramic tile backsplash, and a double stainless steel sink.

Polygon has done a great job in making every square foot of interior and exterior space is usable. “I personally love the fact that the patio and yard are located right off the kitchen,” says Blighton. “This makes barbecuing and entertaining outdoors so convenient — really an extension of our home.”

© Copyright (c) The Province

Furnace replacement a hot topic

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

New law’s coming, but strata will have the right to approve installation

Tony Gioventu
Sun

Q: In September, one of our owners upgraded their gas furnace in their townhouse. The upgrade resulted in the mandatory change to a high-efficiency furnace and new venting from his unit. The new venting required that holes be cut into the siding of the unit and alterations were made to the strata lot without the permission or consent of the strata corporation. The strata council responded to the complaint from another owner and the furnace company told us we had no choice. “Because of the regulations we were just going to have to live with it.” Has a new regulation come into effect? What happens to all the units with gas fireplaces? Doesn’t the strata corporation have authority over what happens to common property?

– Sanjay G., Surrey

A: The British Columbia Energy Efficiency Act (EEA) comes into effect for the replacement of residential furnaces in existing dwellings as of Dec. 31, 2009. The new regulations affect townhouse and detached strata-titled houses directly, when they go to replace their existing gas fired furnaces.

Owners will still be required to obtain the written consent of the strata corporation before they alter common property, and the strata corporation as a result may set conditions to the agreement that include: being responsible for the future costs of maintenance, repairs or resultant damages of the alteration, any building/gas permits or engineering requirements, and any of the related costs of the installation. The strata council will also have the authority to approve the intended installation and alteration of the common property or structure of the building before the work commences. The changes also have a potential impact on building envelope systems, drainage and landscaping.

The change to a high-efficiency gas furnace typically requires changes to the venting system as the system uses a condensing technology where the products of combustion are direct vented through a plastic pipe commonly through a side wall.

Townhouses, of course, are much more complicated because many of them may only have one wall, or a basement or crawl-space furnace, in confined spaces, and under stairwells or in enclosed closets.

Owners should ensure they are only using a licensed HVAC professional, and that if there are any alterations to the structure of the building or common property, they need the written approval of the council before they proceed.

The council needs to remember they can place conditions on the approval in accordance with their bylaws, but they must act reasonably.

A failed furnace in the winter is going to require some quick action and an upgrade with approval. This is not a do-it-yourself job!

For more details go to @ housesmartcentre.com, “New Standards for Furnace Installation.”

Tony Gioventu is executive director of the Condominium Home Owners’ Association. Send questions to him c/o At Home, e-mail [email protected]

© Copyright (c) The Province

Investors brave the rain for shot at a pre-sale of The Mark at 1372 Seymour

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Condo lineups return

Sam Cooper
Province

People in a display suite look at a mock-up of the building. Parts of it are expected to be completed by 2013. Photograph by: Jon Murray, The Province

The buzz is back.

In scenes rarely seen since the Vancouver real-estate market peaked in early 2008, a horde of hungry investors lined up for hours in a downpour Saturday to get first dibs on pre-sale condo units in a tower to be erected in Yaletown.

Cam Good, who is heading up marketing for “The Mark” by Onni, said some investors even slept outside Friday night to ensure prime line-up positions.

“We’re blown away by the turnout,” Good said from inside the downtown pre-sale centre as about 50 investors scrambled around a model of the building.

He said 190 units in the first 26 floors of the tower, to be completed in 2013 and located at the corner of Pacific and Seymour, were offered in the release, and prices ranged from about $320,000 to more than $900,000.

Developers hope to get approval for 41 floors, Good said, with top-floor sales targeted at international investors expected to be in Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics in February.

While the global debt and credit crisis continues to haunt developments in former real-estate hotspots like Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Good said Vancouver is back in boom times.

“The [real-estate] strength in Vancouver is unlike anything in the world,” Good said.

Mayur Arora, who told The Province he hoped to land a top-floor unit, and his realtor K.D. Dhaliwal, said location and scarcity make the site an attractive investment.

“I’m here because they are selling Yaletown at today’s prices, but the speculation is [that] prices will go up after the Olympics,” Arora said.

Steve Dhana was amazed by speculator interest as he watched investors rushing to place bids on units.

“The prices went up $50,000 last night,” Dhana said. He hoped to buy a unit in the $500,000 price-range, and also expected prices to surge in February 2010.

The City of Vancouver will also be banking on an Olympics-fuelled condo boom at the $1.2-billion Athletes Village on southeast False Creek. Marketer Bob Rennie decided to take project units off the market until after the 2010 Games. The city hopes to recoup taxpayer dollars on the property by selling about 730 market condos.

According to the latest benchmark figures from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, October 2009 prices for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver increased 6.8 per cent to $553,702 from $518,668 in October 2008.

Residential property sales in Greater Vancouver totalled 3,704 in October 2009, an increase of 4.1 per cent from the 3,559 sales recorded in September 2009, and an increase of 171.6 per cent compared to October 2008.

© Copyright (c) The Province

 

LG Eve good value for price

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

Gillian Shaw
Sun

LG Eve, $50 with a three-year Rogers contract: Smartphone offerings just got a boost with the arrival of LG’s Eve Android-operating system device on the Rogers network. Photograph by: Handout, Vancouver Sun

Seesmic for Blackberry and Android

KeyScan KS810-P Color Document Scanner PC Keyboard, Keyscan

1. LG Eve, $50 with a three-year Rogers contract

Smartphone offerings just got a boost with the arrival of LG’s Eve Android-operating system device on the Rogers network. At $50 with a three-year voice and data contract, it packs a hefty digital punch for the money. For social media fans, it brings together Facebook, Twitter and Bebo networks into one place with its social network services manager. A touch screen, sliding QWERTY keyboard and a built-in accelerometer, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS, along with a five-megapixel camera and video recording. Its face recognition feature is a plus — once a person is tagged in a photo the Eve recognizes that person to tag in other photos — and clicking on the photo puts you in touch via text, e-mail, phone or chat. www.lg.ca

2. Seesmic for Blackberry and Android, free

Just in time for your new Android phone or BlackBerry, Seesmic, makers of a Windows and Web application for managing your social networks, have delivered two new mobile applications. Seesmic for BlackBerry, an app that pulls your Twitter timelines into one interface that lets you create and view saved searches, see the Twitter lists you’ve created, shorten URLs, and send photos and configure notifications for direct messages and replies. On your Android phone, Seesmic lets you share videos on YouTube as well as using yFrog and TwitPic to share photos on Twitter, plus configure alerts.

seesmic.com

3. KeyScan KS810-P Color Document Scanner PC Keyboard, Keyscan, $132

KeyScan has announced a software update that delivers more features, plus makes its keyboard scanner compatible with Windows 7. Scans everything from paper documents to driver’s licence and other ID cards. www.keyscan.com

4. N310 Netbook, Samsung, $500

On the pricey end of netbook offerings, the Samsung nonetheless delivers the lightest of the lightweights in its class, and manages to include a keyboard that is 93 per cent of a full-size standard desktop keyboard. It has the heftier six-cell battery that’s supposed to last up to 9.9 hours, which I think is pretty much a necessity in a netbook given that they’re all about mobile computing. The 310 has Microsoft’s new Windows 7 operating system. Built-in 1.3-megapixel camera and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR for easy data transfer from any modem multimedia device. www.samsung.ca

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Lexicon of housing and real estate

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

An introductory lesson that distinguishes old, new and misused residential tenures and types

Michael Geller
Sun

The past, present and future of public housing is evident at the Little Mountain housing project, one of about 85 projects built around B.C. since the Second World War and in need of renovation or regeneration, says Michael Geller. Photograph by: Stuart Davis, Vancouver Sun

Many years ago, while planning the transformation of BC Packers’ waterfront lands in Steveston, I made the mistake of trying to explain “land residuals” to BC Packers executives. I will always remember president J. Bruce Buchanan taking me aside and explaining that in his company, residuals had a very different meaning. Anyone who has ever visited a fish packing plant will know what he meant.

Today, I often hear people improperly using terminology related to housing and real estate, sometimes with unfortunate results.

Recently, I attended a panel discussion at the Dunbar Residents Association’s annual general meeting. I was impressed with the high quality of panellists and the general discussion, but at one point an audience member expressed disapproval of a nearby housing proposal because the developer had promised seniors’ housing, and the project was really condominiums.

She did not seem to appreciate that seniors’ housing could mean one of many things, and that a condominium is simply a form of tenure.

At another event, a respected housing analyst talked about the market demand for townhouses and condominiums. Again, a townhouse is a form of development, whereas a condominium is, yes, a form of tenure.

In both cases, I knew what the speakers were trying to say. To the Dunbar resident, seniors’ housing meant rental housing, or perhaps a care facility. In the housing analyst’s mind, condominiums were apartments. But as we all know, not all condominiums are apartments.

It will be increasingly important to understand housing terminology in the future, since developers will be offering more options, such as single-family condominium developments and “fee-simple” townhouses. (The latter was pioneered in Vancouver by former city councillor Art Cowie, who sadly passed away recently.)

We can also expect more co-housing, which offers different forms of housing with a higher provision of shared amenities, and alternative tenure options, such as life-lease and shared-equity.

With increased public discussion on whether the housing at the Olympic Village should be social housing or market housing, or whether a seniors’ project can be a condominium, I thought it might be helpful to review other types of housing terminology from yesterday and today.

Last month, I was invited to teach a class at SFU on the history of government-assisted housing. I spoke about the significant number of programs over the past 60 years, many with now-forgotten acronyms.

Government-subsidized housing in Canada was initiated after the Second World War by the then-Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation, or CMHC. Veterans’ housing and public housing assisted those who could not afford to buy or rent on the open market. Veterans’ projects were built along Fourth Avenue and Broadway in Kitsilano, and in New Westminster.

Some of Vancouver’s early public housing projects included Little Mountain, Skeena Terrace, Raymur Place and Orchard Park. Today, there are about 85 public-housing projects around B.C. built by CMHC and now managed by B.C. Housing. Most are in need of renovation or regeneration. However, if the controversial redevelopment of the Little Mountain social housing complex by the province and the city is any indication, this will have to be managed with much more thought and care.

In the 1970s, the federal government transferred responsibility for the delivery and management of public housing to other levels of government and specially formed non-profit groups and charitable organizations. New National Housing Act rental social housing projects were built by organizations such as the Lions Club, Kiwanis, the Society for Christian Care of the Elderly and numerous ethnic-based societies.

Organizations such as Columbia Housing took advantage of the new National Housing Act’s non-profit co-operative housing program and oversaw the creation of dozens of projects. Unlike New York’s Park Avenue co-ops, and earlier Vancouver co-ops, however, the residents of these new projects have not enjoyed equity appreciation. But they have enjoyed security of tenure and a communal co-operative lifestyle.

One of my favourite 1970s programs was the Assisted Home Ownership Program — or AHOP — that provided incentives to developers building a home that sold for $47,000 or less. Some purchasers of single-family homes had to hang their own closet doors, since they did not come with the units. But their homes are worth considerably more today.

Recently, the City of Vancouver announced the Short Term Incentive Rental program, or STIR, to encourage construction of market rental units. While this is a first for Vancouver, there have been numerous federal rental programs: Limited Dividend, Assisted Rental Program, Canada Rental Supply Program, and the Multi-unit Residential Program. How can we forget MURBs?

When it comes to seniors’ housing, there has been private and non-profit independent living, personal care, intermediate care, extended care, congregate housing, assisted living, and most recently, supportive housing. While nearly all has been rental, some condominium ownership projects have been built in North America as both independent living and care facilities.

Another seniors’ tenure option is life lease. One excellent example in Vancouver is the Performing Arts Lodge at Bayshore Gardens near Coal Harbour, which allows seniors to purchase an apartment at a reduced price on the understanding that when they move out, their initial payment will be returned, but without any increase.

A once-popular U.S. life-lease program offered seniors the right to purchase at a reduced price, based on their age, and remain until their death on the understanding that their estate would receive nothing back. This worked for many years until residents started to live longer in their attractive and supportive environments and “beat the annuity tables.”

Today an increasing number of American projects offer an innovative new tenure option for seniors. It is called rental!

Michael Geller is an architect, planner, developer and adjunct professor at Simon Fraser University. From 1972 to 1981, he worked for the CMHC, overseeing the development of thousands of government-assisted housing units across Canada. He can be reached at [email protected]

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

 

New homes on historic property now selling

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

Qualicum mansion’s grounds location of 16 villas

Marty Hope
Sun

The Brown property is a pointer to those legends that the Strait of Georgia generated postcontact, that Hollywood liked to holiday here and that English officers and gentlemen liked to reside here. The builder of the mansion was a general officer at the end of the First World War. Errol Flynn, Spencer Tracy and Bing Crosby may have stayed under its roof — or not.

Hollywood legends Errol Flynn, Spencer Tracy and Bing Crosby are said to have stayed there.

John Wayne is also said to have been a visitor when he sailed his yacht, The Wild Goose, up the Strait of Georgia.

Decades ago, a Vancouver Island mansion constructed in Qualicum Beach was the destination for some high-falootin‘ visitors. It was built by Brig.-Gen. Noel Money, an avid salmon fisherman who was not averse to throwing some good parties.

After he died in 1939, the property was sold to Major James Lowery, a founder of Home Oil Co. He later sold the property to R.A. (Bobby) Brown, who took over ownership of Home Oil in the early 1950s.

Today, the Qualicum Beach property is called Crown Mansion.

It is the newest development by Crown Isle Management Team, which operates the Crown Isle golf/residential community up the highway in Courtenay.

The mansion has been restored and is now a boutique hotel with six bedrooms on the upper floor. As well, 16 condominiums have been added to the property.

With deep roots in this region of the island, the Crown Isle group decided to purchase the property to preserve it, says director of real estate Jason Andrew.

“Having heard the history of the Brown property, they were fearful of a developer coming in, removing the existing home, carving up the property and selling it off as individual lots, rather than carrying on the history and ambience of the property,” he says.

The development’s colourful history began nearly a century ago in 1913 when Money, an officer in the British army, was on the island for a fishing trip. The outbreak of the First World War called Money back to his regiment and the property was converted to a convalescent home for wounded officers.

At some point, property adjoining the home was turned into a golf course. When the war was over, Money returned to become manager of a real estate company involved in running the golf course.

Money died in 1939 and the property was purchased by Lowery, a neighbour.

Brown bought it in 1952, and when he died 20 years later, his executors sold the golf course to the town of Qualicum Beach for $1 million. The house and grounds were sold in 2001 to Ron Coulson, one of the principals in Crown Isle.

The Crown Mansion has since been fully renovated and offers a mix of the “history of yesterday with the elegant comforts of today,” says Andrew.

Stepping from the port-cochere entrance into the mansion hotel is like stepping back into history.

Visitors enjoy the timeless elegance of a sweeping staircase and the brilliance of crystal chandeliers.

Upstairs are six bedrooms that contain Colonial-style four-poster beds, gas fireplaces and a living area with either ocean or garden views.

Adjacent to the mansion are 16 villas measuring between 1,030 and 1,198 square feet, each finished with granite countertops, lacquered maple cabinets and hickory flooring.

There are also crown mouldings, two gas fireplaces with granite hearths, a jetted tub, stacking washer and dryer, private verandas and a fully-equipped kitchen.

Full ownership prices of available villas — four have been sold — run from $379,900 to $469,900. Andrew says there is a feeling of optimism among people looking at real estate on the island.

“As with most areas, the real estate market on Vancouver Island was not what it could have been, but we are seeing a renewed interest for both residential and investment opportunities at the mansion and up in the Comox Valley at Crown Isle,” he says.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

So close, yet so far: Bedford Landing

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

ParkLane’s latest Fort Langley addition defines ideal location

Caralyn Campbell
Sun

Fort Langley is one of the original Euro-American settlements of early, or fur trade, British Columbia. The nearby Waterfront new-home project is an appropriate counterweight to so much history, a thorough modern multi-residence undertaking which would work wherever there is water or riverfront, urban or rural. Photograph by: Ian Lindsay, Vancouver Sun

Photograph by: Ian Lindsay, Vancouver Sun

WATERFRONT AT BEDFORD CHANNEL

Project location: Fort Langley

Project size: 70 apartments, 8 townhouses

Residence size: apartments: 690 – 1,300 sq. ft; townhouses: 1,680 – 2,100 sq. ft.

Prices: $589,900 – $769,900

Developer: ParkLane

Interior design: i3 Design

Sales centre address: 9275 Glover Road

Hours: noon – 5 p.m. daily

Telephone: 604-888-2793

E-mail: [email protected]

Web: bedfordlanding.com

Occupancy: Immediate

- – -

The sales brochure tags Waterfront at Bedford Channel with the tall-order description of “stunning” — and in this case, it’s tough to argue.

Bedford Channel is an idyllic meandering stem of the Fraser River, adjacent to the charming village of Fort Langley.

ParkLane’s Bedford Channel is a microcosm community, minutes from all the amenities, yet seemingly miles from anywhere.

The master-planned community may be relatively new — its sales office opened in 2006 — but “it has that quaint village feel,” says ParkLane marketing manager Yosh Kasahara.

“Our goal was to include a variety of different architectural styles and landscaping designs to give the effect of a community that has built up over time,” he says.

This 78-acre parcel of waterfront land is one of the most scenic in the province and the only development bordered by a golf course, a river and an urban centre in the Fraser Valley. Bedford Channel is the first new-home development in Fort Langley in decades, and the largest ever.

Almost half the site is dedicated to parkland and green space, with public trails and walkways throughout.

It is a wise builder that secures such a site and then delivers on the vision.

It is a confident builder that targets the buyer — aged 45 and older — who has been around the block a few times. Attention to detail is paramount in order to win over downsizers and empty nesters. ParkLane has done it here with a host of features and amenities that include a secure garage with a separate storage/workshop area, clubhouse, gym, community centre and waterfront trail.

“It is the ideal alternative to the single-family home for those looking to downsize and locate close to shops, services and amenities,” says Kasahara.

“We’re finding a lot of the buyers are from the Langley community. Waterfront offers the lifestyle they’re looking for.”

With expansive windows and generous balconies, the three-level townhomes at Waterfront take full advantage of the view along the channel and across to McMillan Island and Brae Island Regional Park — spaces that will ensure that the view will never change.

Tastefully appointed by i3 Design, the remaining townhomes range in size from a 1,680-square-foot two-bedroom unit to a 2,100-square-foot home with three bedrooms and a den.

Of the 70 apartment units, 10 were still available when Westcoast Homes visited.

On the unseasonably sunny November day of our visit, the word tranquil came to mind. Fort Langley is a popular tourist town, and Brae Island Regional Park has both a campground and The Paddling Centre, which rents canoes, kayaks and bicycles. The channel also hosts major rowing competitions.

“Bedford Channel has the potential to be one of the best courses in Canada,” says Mike Pearce, the head coach of the University of B.C. rowing team. “They will come to this site. It is a magnet.”

With its two-kilometre Olympic-length stretch of straight channel, the channel is wide enough to accommodate a minimum of four lanes, which Pearce says offer perfect racing conditions.

ParkLane partnered with the District of Langley to build the new Fort Langley Paddling and Rowing Centre on Bedford Channel, near the site of the old Interfor cedar mill, pieces of which have been preserved throughout the community.

The beams in the Waterfront lobby were salvaged from the mill and give a nod to the history that is so much a part of Fort Langley.

Fort Langley is a step back in time. It is a feisty village of proud residents that embraces history, encourages the arts and invites visitors to explore its funky shops and treasure-filled galleries.

When we wandered into a Gasoline Alley gallery in the village, we were fortunate to meet one of the village’s human treasures.

Bays Blackhall is the owner of Bellerophon’s Antiques and Equestrian Art and surely one of Fort Langley’s most passionate and knowledgeable advocates.

A bio contained in this year’s Burns Bog Awards program — Blackhall was recognized for her community leadership — describes her as “a dynamic 78-year-old woman and an inspiration to anyone and everyone who shares a passion for nature, arts and culture.”

Since 1979, Blackwell has worked with the Langley Heritage Society members to see historical and natural sites preserved. In 1982, the GVRD proposed building a 640-acre garbage dump on Fort Langley’s cranberry bog to handle Vancouver’s garbage. She succeeded in saving this delicate environmental and heritage site from destruction.

For 25 years, she has run the Fort Festival, promoting local talent and bringing world-class artists to the community. Blackwell is a life member of the Langley Community Music School, and both a fundraiser and volunteer. In her gallery, she promotes local and international artists. One of her most rewarding accomplishments was the installation of Lois Hannah’s life-sized bronze statue of James Douglas, B.C.’s first governor, outside the Fort Langley National Historic Site.

Blackwell feels that “music, art and natural history link the peoples of the world.”

She also organizes an annual Fort Langley celebration called Douglas Days, which she says is presented “so that working people and families may join in the fun and enjoy a free day in the fort.”

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Second wave at Pacific lifts developer, customers

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

Adera’s latest is located at UBC; ‘value for dollar’ generates robust sales

Claudia Kwan
Sun

Pacific Spirit is a two-building undertaking by the Adera development company, with the company expecting occupancy of the first building’s residences to start in June. Architect Bryce Rositch says, yes, the University of B.C. location inspired the design. Photograph by: Ian Lindsay, Vancouver Sun

The Adera development company registered more than 1,000 online expressions of interest in the two-building Pacific Spirit development, a better than 10-to-one prospect-to-home ratio. Adera has started preliminary work on the second building, but has yet to schedule a start for selling. Photograph by: Ian Lindsay, Vancouver Sun

Photograph by: Ian Lindsay, Vancouver Sun

The Adera development company is selling the Pacific new-home project at the University of B.C. from three showhomes.

The seat in the shower stall in the two-bed ensuite

Adera is putting all the kitchen storage, including the fridge, behind high-gloss panelling.

Washers and dryers are full-sized, signalling family-home qualities.

an alternative to the kitchen on the previous page. Photograph by: Ian Lindsay, Vancouver Sun

PACIFIC SPIRIT

Project location: Birney Avenue and Wesbrook Mall, University of B.C.

Project size: 4-storey building, 91 apartments

Residence size: 1 bed + den 665 – 690 sq. ft.; 2 bed + den 850 – 1,078 sq. ft.

Prices: 1 bed + den from $445,900; 2 bed + den from $549,900

Developer: Adera

Architect: Bryce Rositch, Rositch Hemphill and Associates

Interior design: Portico

Sales centre: 120 — 5928 Birney

Hours: noon — 5 p.m., daily

Telephone: 604-221-8878

Web: adera.com

Occupancy: June

- – -

For the past six weeks, Gladys Chim has made a daily pilgrimage to the University of B.C.’s Wesbrook Village. She sits and has a coffee, making friends with the baristas at the local coffee shop, or brings along a book to read while hanging out for hours in the display suites for the Pacific development, dreaming of what life will be like after next June.

That’s when she moves into her new home, a one-bedroom-and-den apartment.

“The area, I just love it so much! I have never loved an area so much before,” she enthuses.

Chim likes the pedestrian-oriented green corridors and the nearby amenities like the new Save-On-Foods grocery store and Pacific Spirit Regional Park, as well as the proximity to a university campus brimming with energy.

“I’m not that young — not that old — but I just like being around all of these friendly young people.”

Chim is not alone, according to Eric Andreasen, vice-president of sales and marketing for Adera, the project’s developer. More than a thousand people pre-registered online for the 91 residences, and all but two were snapped up in the first week of sales, which began last Saturday.

“We’re selling affordable product, and by that, I don’t mean cheapest, I mean consumers are perceiving value for the dollar,” Andreasen says. “There’s utility there, with a near-immediate occupancy, and people know our reputation and product. Add in the HST (harmonized sales tax), and it’s like a turbocharger for sales.”

Adera began construction on Pacific in April 2008, and sold units in a pre-sale offering to what Andreasen calls a “handful” of buyers. When the recession hit, sales were put on hold.

Rather than cancel the project and lay off employees, the company decided to keep going, but to defer sales until now. (The original buyers had their deposits refunded.)

Andreasen says the strategy worked out well.

“The cost of construction materials went down,” he points out. “We were one of the few companies who continued building, so we were able to hire the most experienced tradespeople — they were actually able to shave three months off our timeline. Completion and occupancy will occur before June 30, 2010.”

Thanks to that timeline, Andreasen and Adera are virtually guaranteeing buyers they will not be subject to the HST, which is scheduled to come into effect on July 1, 2010 — one day later.

Architect Bryce Rositch, principal of Rositch Hemphill and Associates, took inspiration from the university setting in designing the U-shaped building.

“It leads you through this amazing breezeway into the courtyard with reflecting pools, which echoes the open space you would find in a university quadrangle,” he says.

“It’s like a small jewel to be able to design an environmentally advanced building like this.”

In contrast to the deep green and misty blue of the natural surroundings, Rositch opted for warm earthy colours, cladding the exterior of the four-storey wood-frame structure in richly textured stone with tones of sienna, gold, brown, and taupe.

The flat roof echoes the institutional buildings often found on school campuses, but is adapted for West Coast weather with deep overhangs.

This allows for roof decks for top-floor apartments and roof gardens, while units on the lower floors have either decks or patios to allow residents to drink in the views.

Inside, homes are welcoming, light-filled, and surprisingly spacious. Instead of being segregated into a small patch of otherwise unusable space, dens are open and situated just off of main living areas. In a pinch, some of the larger dens could be used for sleeping quarters for a visiting guest.

The two-bedroom-and-den “Dunbar” plan includes a thermostat-controlled natural gas fireplace, while all other apartments have electric fireplaces.

Pacific sales manager Linda Therrien says Adera does a lot of focus groups before moving ahead with a project, and listens to what customers want.

“We had a lot of young families telling us they wanted some more space, so we took out a few one-bedroom-and-den units and combined them into some two-bedroom condos instead.”

The family focus even extends to the washers and dryers, which are full-sized, ready to deal with mountains of laundry.

Customers have also been clamouring for years for a seat in the shower stall, Therrien says. In the units with two bathrooms, one has a standard tub, while the other has the oh-so-useful seat, extending out of the fibreglass surround. It’s a practical touch among the porcelain tiles and granite countertops.

The kitchen package includes a four-burner natural gas stove, microwave, and sizeable refrigerator concealed behind high-gloss paneling, as well as engineered hardwood flooring in the living and dining areas.

Buyers can opt instead for a five-burner electric oven with a glass-covered range, and GE Profile stainless steel refrigerator with a touchscreen for programming functions, with no microwave. Under this option, they would receive a credit on their purchase.

Step into any of the three show suites, and you’ll notice a series of green labels tagged onto walls and floors.

They describe how the item in question helped Adera achieve Gold REAP standard with the building, currently the highest environmental designation in the system used by UBC.

Purchasers in Pacific also automatically receive membership in a car co-operative.

Pacific is the first of two buildings in Adera’s Pacific Spirit project.

Preliminary work has begun on the second building, Spirit, which has 67 units. Andreasen isn’t sure when sales begin for that building, but is hopeful demand will remain strong for homes in Wesbrook Village.

As for Gladys Chim, she’s managed to find an effective way to limit her visits to the site of her eagerly anticipated home. She’s flying to Asia for an extended visit next month.

METRO GOVERNMENT CHALLENGING UBC DECISIONS

Is it time for UBC and its surrounding land to become a municipality?

That’s a theory being advanced by some who have been observing or participating in the recent debate over land-use regulation at the campus. Metro Vancouver board chair Lois Jackson says it makes sense. “UBC has outgrown its status as an electoral area,” she says. “Incorporating as a municipality would allow it to be in charge of its own destiny.”

Despite its geographical proximity to Vancouver, the university and the University Endowment Lands — including Pacific Spirit Regional Park — are not a part of the city. They are part of an unincorporated area known as Electoral Area A, overseen by Metro Vancouver under the Local Government Act.

However, the university maintains the campus is under the jurisdiction of UBC’s board of governors, as outlined in the Universities Act. The issue has flared up recently, after Metro Vancouver staff issued a report looking at the feasibility of putting a zoning bylaw in place. Instead, they recommended “neighbourhood” plans for different parts of the campus.

UBC’s Stephen Owen says they are “taking exception” to the idea of regulation on academic lands. The vice-president of external, legal and community relations says the prospective rules differ from zone to zone and are too restrictive.

“We’re bidding nationally or internationally for research facilities and professorships, which have very tight terms of reference about buildings and locations,” he says.

“The rules are so tight we would have to go for bylaw variances almost every time we tried to bid for something. That could take one or two years to resolve.”

Owen also disputes suggestions of a potential conflict of interest outlined by Metro Vancouver staff in a recent report outlining the zoning idea. It relates to UBC simultaneously owning and developing its land, while being in charge of the development approval process.

In recent years, there have been protests over how tall student residence buildings overlooking Wreck Beach should be, and a campaign to save the UBC Farm from potential housing development.

University president Stephen Toope recently accused Metro of trying to gain control of development of academic lands, and said UBC will refuse to participate in a working group being set up by Metro to deal with land use at the university.

Toope said in a prepared statement that Metro is ignoring a memorandum of understanding the two parties drew up in 2000 regarding the university’s official community plan. It gives UBC control over development, but grants Metro Vancouver an oversight role in some areas.

Charles Menzies, an associate professor of anthropology at the university who unsuccessfully ran as the representative for Electoral Area A in 2008, says there is a sense of ownership that extends beyond those who live in the immediate area of the Point Grey campus. “We need local level government,” he says in responding to questions around accountability.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

New Camera keychain fits in the palm of your hand

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Keychain devices can provide emergency features, take your picture or recharge your electronic devices whiile they are keeping your keys in place

Melissa Guillergan
Sun

The Bodygard 5-in-1 MultiFunction Emergency keychain can help you escape a vehiclerelated emergency with features like a seat belt cutter and door glass breaker.

A Camera keychain is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and is great for capturing pictures on the go.

The keychains on the market today have the ability to do more than simply hold all of your keys in one place, open a bottle, or act as a miniature flashlight.

Some keychains have life-saving features while others serve as handy gadgets to help charge an iPod or to record short videos.

Here are some keychains that do more than just keep your keys in place:

Bodygard 5-in-1 Multi-Function Emergency Tool Keychain: One of the most well-rounded and functional keychains in the market today is the Bodygard 5-in-1 Keychain from Swiss+Tech. Don’t let its size fool you. Although it is just 1.75-inches wide and three-inches long, the Bodygard could save your life.

The two most significant emergency features of the keychain are the seat belt cutter and door glass breaker, which could help you quickly escape a fire, accident or submersion emergency. It can also assist you with helping someone else who may be in a vehicle-related emergency. The Bodygard also comes with other essential tools including a bright red light distress flasher, an LED flashlight and a sonic alarm that could help ward off potential attackers when walking to your car. The Bodygard 5-in-1 Keychain is available at Amazon.com for $22.99.

Solar Charger Keychain: The Solar Charger Keychain can recharge your mobile devices using solar energy. It is a great key chain for those always on the go who are heavy users of cell phones or portable MP3 players. The keychain can be charged with solar energy, a USB cable or A/C Adapter.

The complete package comes with everything you need including five different types of cell phone device connectors, ranging in brands including Sony Ericsson, Motorola and Nokia. A device connector that would fit your particular cell phone model and brand can be purchased at local cellular retail stores.

The Apple iPhone3G has a Solar Battery Recharger Phone Keychain that does the same trick. The Solar Charger Keychain can be purchased for about $35 and is available at Brando.com (usb.brando.com)

Keychain Cameras: Keychain cameras are small enough to fit in your pocket, typically measuring three-inches by two-inches. There are keychain cameras on the market that can take 2,560-by-2,048-pixel still images. Others have the ability to record up to 120 seconds of video.

They typically run on a single AAA battery. Reviews of keychain cameras vary, especially regarding the quality of photos they produce.

If shopping for a keychain camera, put in the extra money to get one that produces higher quality images.

Keychain cameras are also great for mobile webcams, which are handy for backpackers and travellers who want to stay in touch with friends back home.

Keychain cameras are available at various retail stores including Canadian Tire and range in price from $40 to $70, depending on the quality of pictures they produce.

Melissa Guillergan works for the Laura Ballance Media Group and loves looking for those Missing Parts that manufacturers fail to install in your ride.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Temporary bylaw would expand liquor hours, ban some ads during Games

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Proposed changes, made after public backlash to original plan, go to city council Tuesday

Kelly Sinoski
Sun

Pubs and restaurants will be able to serve liquor on week nights just as they do on weekends — until 2 or 3 a.m. — under new bylaws proposed by City of Vancouver staff during the 2010 Olympics. Photograph by: Jenelle Schneider, Vancouver Sun

Olympic spectators will be able to drink alcohol at pubs and on patios late into the night seven days a week, make more noise and take a rickshaw down pedestrian corridors during the 2010 Olympic Games.

But those hoping to make a buck during the Games with illegal commercial advertising, street-vending without a permit in Olympic zones or sharing single-room hotels, will face a minimum $250 fine as the city ramps up its municipal ticket enforcement.

Those are just some of the temporary changes being proposed by City of Vancouver staff in a revised 2010 Olympic Winter Games bylaw that will go before city council Tuesday.

The bylaw, initially approved in July, proposes temporary adjustments to 10 city bylaws during the Games, including relaxing noise and liquor service hours and cracking down on illegal commercial advertising, graffiti and littering.

The changes arose after a public backlash over concerns that the bylaw would unfairly restrict freedom of political expression.

To resolve this, the city proposes to crack down only on commercial advertising.

It would have the power to remove illegal commercial signs — or ambush marketing — in as little as one day, if it has the owners’ consent or a court warrant.

The aim is to have the fines act as a deterrent to keep the city attractive to tourists and investors while ensuring the value of Games sponsorship.

“Someone can make a lot of money selling advertising for five days during the Games,” said Coun. Geoff Meggs.

“We want to make sure they won’t profit.”

Illegal non-commercial signs — including ones containing negative messages about the Games — would be removed under the existing bylaw process, which could take up to 30 days, unless they pose a safety risk.

Meggs said the initial bylaw was passed as an “insurance policy” but people were not satisfied with the city’s explanation at that time.

“Our intention is to be a good host for the Olympics. We have to be proactive in managing the Games properly,” he said.

“The city was never intending to kick down a door and take down a fridge magnet … or tear off their T-shirts. But obviously there was a concern.”

The proposed changes would see weekend liquor services for bars and restaurants seven days a week, meaning pubs and restaurants could be open until 2 or 3 a.m. from Feb. 8-28, although licensees will still need approval from the provincial liquor control branch.

The city has also proposed to amend the daytime noise bylaw between Feb. 11 and 28, coinciding with the torch relay and increased activity downtown, and to put into place a plan to quickly eliminate graffiti in high-visibility locations — at taxpayers’ expense — between Feb. 1 and March 28.

Twenty rickshaws would also be allowed on pedestrian corridors as an “additional sustainable transportation option,” complementing 60 pedicabs.

But they, along with the pedicabs, must have a permit or risk a fine.

About 60 city engineers, park rangers, fire officials and community service workers will be deployed to enforce city bylaws, including street advertising, street-vending without a permit and failure to clear snow and ice off the streets.

“The speed with which the city addresses bylaw violations during the Games will be critical to ensure safety and enjoyment of the residents and visitors,” according to the city report.

Meanwhile, the city suggests restricting the area of the security zone in Coal Harbour and increasing security around Robson Square, now the official provincial government venue. It will also permanently increase the fine for violations of the fire bylaw to a maximum of $10,000.

David Eby, executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Society, said he’s pleased with the changes although he’s concerned about the potential impact on street vendors and those setting up shelters along Hastings Street, which has been dubbed an Olympic zone.

“What we’re concerned about is the ability of people to hold signs and chant,” he said. “The Olympics are like any other day in Vancouver.”

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun