November 29, 2012

At home with history

Bluetree Homes at Mackin Park to rise in one of B.C.’s oldest communities

Development to be set in historic Maillardville

Bluetree Homes at Mackin Park will rise in a community rich with culture and charm

Bluetree Homes at Mackin Park

Project location: 210 Lebleu St., Coquitlam
Project size: 86 low-rise one and two-bedroom suites with street-level retail, in two buildings
Residence sizes: One- and two-bed homes; 548 — 1,013 sq. ft.
Prices: from the low $200,000s
Developer: Bluetree Homes
Sales Centre address: 211- 1020 Austin Ave., Coquitlam.
Architect: Robert Ciccozzi Architecture.
Interior design: Bluetree Homes in-house, with Sara Brown & Co.
Hours: noon-5 p.m., daily
Website: www.bluetreehomes.ca
Telephone: 604-939-8874
Contact: mackinpark@bluetreehomes.ca
Occupancy: Summer 2014

MARY FRANCES HILL
Special to The Sun

Not many people can say they live at the intersection of culture and commerce. But the eventual homeowners at Bluetree Homes at Mackin Park will find themselves in that very position. Bluetree Homes at Mackin Park will stand at Brunette Avenue and Lebleu Street in Maillardville, one of the most historic communities in B.C. The project is comprised of 86 homes in two buildings separated by a courtyard.

But those ever-important conveniences — banks, shopping centres, restaurants, schools and community centres — are within a five-minute drive. “When we saw it, we thought it was a great location, in a neighbourhood that has an incredible history and culture already here. It’s not like a lot of communities that spring out of nowhere,” says Yosh Kasahara, general manager of Bluetree Homes’ sales and marketing team.

“We get excited about building in established areas like this. It makes it so much more livable for people who will ultimately live here.” A few blocks away, big-box warehouses like Ikea, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Staples and many other shopping outlets attract shoppers from across Greater Vancouver. “You’re close enough to (the retail hub), but not so close you’re living in a commercial zone.”

The area’s cultural depth took root in a commercial venture more than 100 years ago. In 1889, businessmen Frank Ross and James McLaren built a lumber mill on the north bank of the Fraser. Twenty years later, it had grown into a thriving little community with a pool hall, more than 20 homes, a store, hospital and barber shop. In 1909, the mill town’s founders recruited 110 workers from French Canada. Another contingent of Quebecois workers arrived the next year. Inspired by this new demographic, the area took the name Maillardville, to honour Father Edmond Maillard, an oblate priest from who arrived in the community in 1912.

The village merged with the city of Coquitlam in 1971. Ever since, Maillardville’s residents have kept their founding culture strong with a busy Place Des Arts, French immersion programs, a francophone education system and the popular Festival du Bois, an annual series of events celebrating Quebecois and French culture, food, and performing and visual arts. The Festival du Bois will celebrate its 24th year next March.

Paying homage to Maillardville’s past and what it calls “French-inspired modern architecture,” the Bluetree Homes at Mackin Park buildings will replicate historic touches and blend them with a contemporary West Coast look, with glass awnings over ground-floor retail space, hardy panel siding, and natural materials such as stone cladding on the building’s front. A mansard-style roof and dormers on the top of the building, flower boxes, street furniture and street lights complete the French heritage theme.

“It’s an acknowledgment of the heritage in Maillardville, but it’s first and foremost a modern building,” Kasahara says. Though it bears the traditional open-concept layout with the kitchen overlooking the dining and living areas, Bluetree’s one-bedroom and den display suite gives off the illusion of a space much wider and more spacious than its 700 square feet. Durable wide-plank laminate flooring throughout, Frigidaire appliances, and Grohe and Kohler fixtures in the kitchen and bathroom are standard features.

The kitchen is equipped with an engineered stone countertop, built-in spice rack and efficient use of storage and cabinetry in the kitchen. Directly across from the kitchen, a double clothes closet and washer-dryer storage area is built conveniently next to the modern bathroom. The den in the display suite is set up as a party headquarters, complete with wine storage and a keg, but it’s spacious enough for a home office with storage or an extra sleeping area with a twin bed.

From the spacious balconies, homeowners with west-facing suites will be able to see a broad landscape full of greenery, looking out to Burnaby and Vancouver, a stunning sight thanks to Robert Ciccozzi Architecture’s construction of the building on a slight slope from Brunette to Lebleu Street. “With the elevation, there will be nothing so tall as to block a view over to the west,” Kasahara says. Mackin Park, two blocks away, has been a focus for the city of Coquitlam this summer. The city built a new children’s water park and skateboarding facilities and dedicated a social plaza and performance space nearby.

Bluetree Homes will build the south building to front Brunette in its first stage of construction. A common courtyard will connect to the north building to be constructed on the hill’s higher end. The developer is offering preview pricing that makes the south building more affordable than the north, with suites starting at $199,900 — “unheard of, especially with this many amenities in the neighbourhood,” Kasahara says.

The south building will house 43 suites, 25 of which will cost less than $300,000. Seventeen of those are priced under $250,000. “When you look at what’s selling on the market right now it’s an attractive price point that can stack up against anything.” The community has seen some smaller infill development lately. Some older single-family homes being redeveloped into duplexes or small three-suite buildings. Kasahara assures that any new development in Maillardville will be gradual, careful and respectful of the neighbourhood’s heritage.

“This is the first significant development that has taken place here in the last decade. You’re starting to see that gradual re-energization of this community. “It’s the beginning of things to come.”

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