June 27, 2012

Idyllic setting for newest UBC condo tower

Development sports striking West Coast architecture by Nigel Baldwin and DYS Architects

Academy

Project location: 5696 Berton Ave., Vancouver
Project size: 18 storeys with 163 one-and two-bedroom units, including seven three-bedroom townhomes
Residence size: Approx. 562 — 1,010 sq. ft.
Prices: Priced from $458,000; two-bedrooms from $668,000
Developer: Polygon Academy Homes Ltd.
Architect: Nigel Baldwin and DYS Architects.
Interior design: Polygon Interior Design Ltd.
Sales centre: 5696 Berton Avenue
Hours: noon — 6 p.m., Sat — Thurs
Website: www.polyhomes.com
Telephone: 604-228-8895
Email: academy@polyhomes.com

Occupancy: Fall 2013

BY MARY FRANCES HILL

After a morning rain in mid-June, the air at Pacific Spirit Park feels and smells like no other part of the city. Directly beside the thick forest paths, a clean warm humidity clings lightly to the skin. An idyllic setting such as this isn’t normally associated with the development of condominium towers.

But it’s here, directly across from the dense collection of trees, lined with cycling and pedestrian paths, that Polygon’s Academy presentation centre stands. Academy is a Polygon project in Wesbrook Village, a growing community within walking distance to University of British Columbia Farm, the new University Hill secondary school site and the sprawling UBC campus. A large traffic circle acts as a boundary between the busy UBC’s student-centred campus region and Wesbrook Village’s dense retail centre, steps away from Vancouver’s iconic Pacific Spirit Park. The outlook to the north, with a direct view of the trees, might be enough on their own to attract home hunters to the 18-storey site. Ralph Archibald, Polygon’s senior vice-president of sales and marketing, says most people are surprised that many suites in Academy come with a wide, sprawling view of the Strait of Georgia.

We’re seeing a lot of professional couples, and people who are downsizing. This gives them a peaceful setting, and the views are much different from the ones that people think are here even before they arrive.

The presentation centre includes a touch screen that allows people to check out the views offered from each floor. From the top few floors, the vistas to the south look out over a broad horizon of the water and trees. “That’s a surprise to people. There haven’t been a lot of highrise communities out here that offer this kind of view.” The luxuries continue indoors. The model in the presentation centre shows prominent water features at the front door and light airy foyer at the entrance to the building.

In the show suite, a wide foyer greets the visitor. Though it’s not included in the presentation centre, a closet in the hallway will be included in the two-bedroom home. Ultimately, it’s the width of the home that impresses: the minimalist, tailored kitchen (fitted with Bosch appliances and a deep double sink) looks out to the open-concept living area directly beside the dining area. The large master suite includes a very large walk-in closet, and a luxurious ensuite bathroom with marble floor tiles and counters. The shower and full bathtub lie perpendicular to each other, creating a spacious, open feel.

As comfortable as the suites are indoors, the biggest sales magnet lies in the environment. Polygon recently completed Sitka, a tower in the heart of the UBC campus. Its success with sales of Sitka confirmed how eager many downsizers and urban professionals are to be close to amenities — Save-On-Foods is two blocks away — while being surrounded in an unspoiled natural environment, says Archibald. “This is a very natural setting, but it’s still so very close to town, and Wesbrook Village. There is something appealing about living near the university, and a very good secondary school, “ he says. “It truly is a village.”

As in most successful villages, it’s organized and full of community activities. Wesbrook Village website, a tidy online meeting place for residents run by UBC Properties Trust, provides a map of the retail centre, brief news about the upcoming residential developments and new shops in the retail strip. A monthly newsletter keeps subscribers up to date. May’s edition, for instance, includes notes of a UBC public open house, congregation ceremonies, and an alumni weekend party.

Yet another website offers Wesbrook News, a newsletter full of information about the community issues such as rainwater recycling and enrolment in local schools. Aside from the most apparent draw — the natural beauty of the setting and the proximity to UBC campus, buyers are attracted to University Hill secondary school, in construction within walking and cycling distance from Academy, says Archibald. The new modern facility will open its doors to students in September. In the place of University Hill’s old premises at Acadia Place, a short drive from the Academy site, the Vancouver school board is building Acadia elementary school.

Polygon has earned a reputation for building comfortable homes in municipalities outside Vancouver — Langley, Delta and Coquitlam, for example — stocked with amenities such as outdoor pools, clubhouses fitted out with gyms, movie-screening rooms and children’s playrooms. Where those residences focus on family life, Polygon’s western locations, like Sitka and Academy, have been attracting a different kind of buyer. Archibald says Polygon is seeing buyers who are associated in some way with the university — either studying or teaching — and professional couples. The suites have also proven to be quite attractive to people moving from single-family homes in the west side of Vancouver and Richmond.

“We’re seeing a lot of professional couples, and people who are downsizing. This gives them a peaceful setting, and the views are much different than the ones that people think are here even before they arrive.”

Special to The Sun

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