April 27, 2012
False Creek Suites Celebrate Industrial Roots
Project location: First Avenue and Quebec Street, Vancouver
Project size: 15-storey tower connected to seven-storey building, comprising 170 homes
Residence sizes: One and two bedrooms, 546 — 1,029 sq. ft.
Prices: $320,000s — $720,000s
Developer: Cressey Developments
Architect: Rafii Architects
Interior Designer: Insight Design Group
Sales Centre: 104 East 1st Ave.
Occupancy: Fall 2014
Hours: noon — 5 p.m., Sat. — Thurs.
BY MARY FRANCES HILL
Call it the seven-year itch, real estate version. In 2005, on the advice of his realtor, Mark Esplen purchased a one-bedroom condo in Mount Pleasant. At the time, the area was an “up-and-coming” neighbourhood, with all that implies. Over the years, as his community evolved, he grew to love it. His home on East 7th Avenue has been the perfect perch from which to watch his community as it developed.
“When I first bought this place, my mom said to me, ‘you bought this apartment?’” he laughs. “It’s been really cool watching the neighbourhood change.” Seven years later, he’s assured his investment has paid off. But with change came new opportunities. His frequent runs to the Main Street and the Southeast False Creek area exposed him to the area around the former Olympic athletes’ village and the new projects surrounding it.
Intent for some time on renting out his current apartment and moving into a new space, he kept his realtor busy looking for pre-sale homes not far from his current home. Along came Meccanica, Cressey’s planned 15-storey tower and seven-level podium building pre-sale project at 1st Avenue and Quebec Street. “When I walked into the Meccanica [show room], I knew right away I was going to buy a suite,” he says.
Esplen chose the one-bedroom layout shown in the presentation centre. At more than 600 square feet, it will be situated on a raised ground floor of the lower of Meccanica’s two buildings, overlooking a pedestrian mews. Esplen, 33, says he’s getting the best of all his worlds. At Meccanica, he’ll still be connected to his beloved Mount Pleasant, but he’ll be much closer to his Yaletown office, where he sells computer software.
Much like living in Mount Pleasant at the verge of its boom, he’s enthusiastic to be moving to the Southeast False Creek region as it experiences a rebirth, so to speak. “It intrigues me to be part of something new, being one of the first ones in there. With all the pubs and grocery stores and restaurants in [the one-time Olympic] athletes’ village, it’ll be neat to watch the neighbourhood build up.”
Meccanica’s tower and its seven-storey neighbour will be connected by an elevated glass walkway allowing tower residents to walk to the lower building to get to common space. Underneath Cressey will build a pedestrian walkway and water feature for the public. “Most people who buy a home here have walked through athletes’ village and they know of the wide open spaces and the walkability,” says Catherine Thaker, sales manager at Mac Marketing, sales organizer for Meccanica.
The development will be within walking distance of the Main Street-Science World SkyTrain stop, and close to Chinatown and downtown to the north, and Mount Pleasant to the south. To say the area is popular among builders might be an understatement; two large condominium buildings, the Lido and Central, will stand between Meccanica and the SkyTrain station at Terminal and Main. It’s all a sign that the city’s long-term plans for South East False Creek are bearing fruit, says Jason Turcotte, Cressey’s senior development manager. “There’s a reason many of our peers are interested in the False Creek community. We come to the same conclusion, that this is a great place to live.”
Considering the area’s industrial roots, it may seem appropriate for developers to pay some homage to the history of the ground on which they’re building. Since 1959, Intermeccanica has been building replica vintage Porsches in that block. “We got to know the people at Intermeccanica really well,” says Hani Lammam, Cressey’s vice-president of development and acquisitions. The nod to Intermeccanica is apparent the moment visitors walk into the presentation centre, where they are greeted by a vintage Porsche.
“Their presence in the neighbourhood and the industrial roots are very strong, so the use of metals and automotive details we thought were very appropriate,” Lammam says. On the building’s exterior facing Quebec Street, balconies will be covered by a grill-like covering that adds contemporary lines, while it mimics automotive detailing. Inside, the different “models” of homes on offer — dubbed Speedster, Roadster and Turbo — speak to the automobile.
Turcotte describes the standard features in each suite, such as the polished concrete floors, nine-foot high ceilings and exposed and painted duct work, as “refined industrial.” One of the most unique features in many suites is the seven-foot door supported on top via a wheeled track, much like a barn door. Kitchens provide plenty of storage lining the walls, quartz countertops, an AEG appliance package with a Blomberg dishwasher integrated in the cabinet panels. Buyers can customize their all-white high-gloss lacquer cabinets with accent colours inspired by old Porsche paint hues.
Esplen says he appreciated the homage to the street’s industrial history. But he was just as impressed by the way his new ground-floor home will feel connected to the rest of the community. He’ll have a separate front door, surrounded by hedges and a patio. From there, he will be able to walk right out onto the pedestrian walkway. It all feels like an urban home should, he says.
Special to The Sun