The Globe and Mail - CRUSH FOR CONDOS

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					S4         FRIDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2009                                                                                                                                     GLOBEANDMAIL.COM/REALESTATE

                                                                                                                                                                        LEFT Buyers crowd under

Some developers
                                                                                                                                                                        an awning outside The Mark’s
                                                                                                                                                                        showroom last week.
                                                                                                                                                                        BELOW An artist’s rendering
                                                                                                                                                                        of the project. ONNI GROUP

are selling out
as buyers crowd
the sales rooms


        obody was carrying
        around a pig with a head
        on a stick, but the crowd
that lined up throughout the
night to purchase condos at
Yaletown’s The Mark was defi-
nitely showing signs of regress-
   It’s been a couple of years
since Vancouver’s real estate
market drove people to des-
perate measures. But last
weekend, with 214 presale con-
dos to go on sale in the luxury
building in the prime location,
Vancouver turned into crazy
town all over again. Within
hours, 163 of those condos at
Pacific and Seymour were sold.        a.m., Mr. Good was a dial tone        They created the rule that you       market after the Olympics. Mr.                                                     have to market the project be-
more than two dozen of them           away from calling 911. It wasn’t      are allowed to take a break          Good says he’s now grateful          week on those projects.                       cause so many buyers knew
to people who had slept over-         the young Japanese girl who           from the line-up, but for 30         that they had to wait for city         It’s a far cry from the state of            about it by word of mouth.
night in a line-up. By Saturday       came with in her snowboard            minutes max. This guy had left       approval because it delayed          the market in the first quarter               They came prepared to buy,
morning, there were 150 peo-          outfit and sleeping bag, look-        for too long and was extricat-       further sales. Prices, he says,      of the year. From January to                  and on opening day he sold 45
ple waiting in line to make           ing to purchase a one-bed-            ed. Part of the reason was he        can only go up.                      March, Mr. Good was selling                   units.
their bid on a development            room, who caused the fuss. It         wasn’t a real buyer. He was a          “The Olympic release has           off units in six Onni properties                “I had writer’s cramp,” he
that won’t be ready until 2013.       was the guy who came with             scalper almost.”                     gotten a lot bigger, because we      for 25 to 40 per cent less than               says, laughing.
   “This is not cheap, to be          the sole purpose of selling his         Mr. Good says he hasn’t seen       have frankly sold too much           asking, because the presale                     In January, his marketing
quite honest. It’s not like we        primo place in line to the des-       a line-up for condo sales since      too fast,” he says. “I believe the   buyers had defaulted. In many                 team will launch the presales
were selling condos for               perate buyers. When the man,          2007. Motivated by last week-        market is going up. We sold          cases, those buyers could no                  for Spirit, the nearby 62-unit
$249,000 – ‘come on down,             who was third in line, left the       end’s events, he has put a hold      enough. We will see expres-          longer qualify for a mortgage                 development that will be
you can’t believe the prices,’”       line-up to take a break and re-       on any more sales at The Mark        sions of interest through, but       on a condo that had greatly                   ready for occupancy in 2011.
says Onni marketer Cam Good.          turn, the rest of the line-up         until 2010. Last weekend’s sale      only till December 20, then ev-      dropped in value.                               “I think it’s the low interest
“These condos are $400,000 to         turned angry and refused to let       was for only the first 30 floors     erything is off the market.”           Because financing is not easy               rates,” says Mr. Couttie. “I
$950,000. It’s just surprising        him back in.                          of the building. The developer         Two other Onni projects            to obtain, Adera president                    think people do believe things
that people would sleep over-            “It was like Lord of the Flies,”   is approved for 35, and cur-         have also sold well in Septem-       Norm Couttie says only major                  are going to get better. The
night for that kind of luxury.”       says Mr. Good. “In the morn-          rently awaiting approval from        ber and October. At China-           developers are in the market                  HST is offset by the positive
   Perhaps it was the all night       ing when I arrived there early,       the city to increase that to 41      town’s V6A, 76 homes out of          right now. Last week he sold                  that is the Olympics. I think
wait. Perhaps it was the free-        I found this big confrontation        storeys. If approved, those ad-      124 have sold, and at The So-        every unit of Pacific, the 91-                people feel that buying real es-
zing cold, driving rain. Perhaps      going on…It was a crowd of            ditional units, as well as the re-   cial at 7th and Main, 92 out of      unit development at UBC that                  tate in Vancouver is still a wise
it was the other 20 to 25 miser-      people who had developed              maining unsold ones from last        128 units have sold. Mr. Good        was put on hold for a year due                long-term decision.”
able people in line. But by 7         their own society and rules.          weekend, will go back on the         says he’s averaging 25 sales a       to the downturn. He didn’t                    66 Special to The Globe and Mail


School of higher living
A wave of new building is transforming the area around the UBC campus
BY HADANI DITMARS VANCOUVER           have been highly planned by           architecture,” explains Couttie,                                                                                        thorn Place, he might well be
                                      the UBC Properties Trust, un-         “pioneered by Arthur Erickson,                                                                                          in for a surprise.

       ompared to urban univer-       like the public academic build-       Ron Thom and others, is what                                                                                              The café at the new Save on
       sities such as McGill or the   ings, which can seem like a           we do best. Why should we try                                                                                           Foods has an almost urban, Ya-
       University of Toronto,         mishmash (especially com-             and imitate other styles?”                                                                                              letowny feel to it, and the new
Vancouver’s UBC is decidedly          pared to the more singular vi-          Why indeed. Across the street                                                                                         medical offices mean that
land rich. At more than four          sion of the Arthur                    from Rhododendron Forest,                                                                                               many residents can exist for
square kilometres, the campus         Erickson-designed Simon Fra-          Legacy echoes the greenery                                                                                              days without a journey down-
is one of the biggest in Canada,      ser University campus).               with its cedar elements and                                                                                             town.
and that’s not counting the en-         And a sense of community is         landscaping. With the use of a                                                                                            And yet, what one notices at
dowment lands – about 14              growing, particularly at Wes-         bridged entranceway that                                                                                                Adera’s new Pathways devel-
square kilometres – half of           brook Place, with mixed-use           straddles a gully below that                                                                                            opment, is its celebration of
which is made up of Pacific           residential/commercial zon-           subtly suggests a creek bed, the                                                                                        forest. The glass entranceway
Spirit Park.                          ing, market/student housing,          eye is drawn inside what feels                                                                                          acts both as a natural segue be-
  Vast swaths of its forested en-     attention to infrastructure and       like a residential extension of                                                                                         tween the two buildings it
dowment lands remain pre-             sensitivity to and engagement         the forest opposite. Large bal-                                                                                         comprises and at the same
served for the future, but a          with the natural environment.         conies offer residents lush                                                                                             time as a repository for needles
recent wave of residential de-        The area features a network of        views of towering fir trees,                                                                                            from nearby towering firs,
velopment on campus is rivall-        “green streets” – aesthetically       while brick offers a textural in-                                                                                       mimicking the forest canopy. A
ing the Olympic village for           pleasing corridors of unpaved         terplay with the cedar siding                                                                                           long, cylindrical fountain
Vancouver’s construction hot          walkways and bicycle trails, as       and references more tradition-                                                                                          stretches across the length of
spot.                                 well as increased public transit,     al academic architecture.                                                                                               the first building, softening its
  The Chancellor area on the          all of which adds up to dramat-         An earlier building down the                                                                                          façade and creating both a
north end of campus was the           ically reduced car use.               way, called Journey, reads like a                                                                                       sense of intimacy and proces-
first to develop, followed by           “The whole experience of            riff on Erickson’s Museum of                                                                                            sion as one enters Pathways
Hawthorn Place. Now, the              UBC is about entry into forest,”      Anthropology. The entrance-                                                                                             under the elongated glass ca-
South Campus neighbourhood            says Norm Couttie, an architect       way – a grand cedar post-and-                                                                                           nopy.
is positively booming. In the         and the president of Adera            beam structure with terraced                                                                                              Once inside the first lobby, a
past two years, a whole new           Group – one of the biggest de-        steps – leads up to a lobby fea-                                          three other residential devel-                Brent Comber fir bench beck-
community adjacent to 16th
Avenue has been carved out of
                                      velopers of residential property
                                      on campus. With several estab-
                                                                            turing an indoor stream. A First
                                                                            Nations killer whale emblem
                                                                                                                 "                                    opments. Killdeers cry and frol-
                                                                                                                                                      ic in the foliage, while a nearby
                                                                                                                                                                                                    ons, flanked by one of his cedar
                                                                                                                                                                                                    installation pieces on the wall.
forest. Eventually the South          lished projects and two new           stands guard on a stone wall         The whole experience                 community centre called “the                    The tall fir trees – a few select
end’s Wesbrook Place will be          ones almost complete, the firm        above it. The course of the wa-                                           barn” – built on the bones of an              ones saved for their age and
the largest neighbourhood on          has demonstrated a West Coast         ter, the sloped site and the ex-     of UBC is about entry                original, actual barn – speaks to             height – that stand on the oth-
UBC’s campus, housing more            contemporary design vision            tensive glazing at the lobby         into forest.                         the rural history of this area.               er side of the building – read
than 5,000 people in a mix of         that embraces its surround-           entrance and exit conspire to                                             The UBC teaching farm is near-                like installation pieces them-
townhouses and apartments.            ings.                                 create a sense of continual          Norm Couttie,                        by, and local legend has it that              selves. They lead the way down
  A recent visit offered a dizzy-       Consider their 2005 project         flow. The balconies here are         architect                            sheep are often taken to the                  yet another green street that
ing array of projects: a brand        called Legacy in Hawthorn             huge – 300 square feet – and                                              UBC hospital for ultrasounds.                 intersects surprisingly chic, ter-
new Save-On-Foods with rental         Place. In the midst of a pastiche     take in the considerable view.       The Pathways project                 It’s that kind of community.                  raced storm drain/fountain
housing above it, a senior’s res-     of styles that range from pseu-         A walk around the building         at UBC. RAEF GROHNE                    Teaching farm sheep except-                 that vaguely suggests the water
idence under construction, a          do arts and crafts to Cape Cod,       reveals a UBC Properties Trust-                                           ed, wildlife abounds here, with               elements at Erickson’s Robson
new Henriquez Partners- de-           Legacy offers the comfort of          built take on a village green –                                           local coyotes the scourge of                  Square.
signed high-rise project called       real West Coast cedar, land-          with a storm drain/waterway                                               worried cat owners. But if a                    Then, after a few lovely feet,
Sage at the edge of the TRIUMF        scaping with native species,          that provides visual pleasure                                             coyote were to emerge from of                 the green street ends, simply
research centre, and a new high       and a true indoor/outdoor aes-        and resource recycling, a play-                                           the woods that surround the                   melting into the surrounding
school in the planning stages.        thetic.                               ground and a grassy, land-                                                new South Campus neighbour-                   forest.
  The campus residential areas          “West Coast contemporary            scaped area surrounded by                                                 hood, a kilometre from Haw-                   66 Special to The Globe and Mail