April 2, 2012
Olympic Hockey Team’s Dreams Took Root Here
BY BARBARA GUNN
They are homes as noteworthy for what’s beyond their walls as for what is within them. Think views of the city skyline and the North Shore mountains. Think outlooks that take in the dragon boats in False Creek and the joggers and dog walkers on the seawall. Think a nearby plaza, where moms with tots meet for coffee or to grab a bite of lunch.
This is Canada House, the premier location at the Village on False Creek, where 40 stellar homes — most with some of Vancouver’s most breathtaking vistas — have just been released for sale. This is the celebrated site where members of the Canadian men’s gold-winning hockey team hunkered down during the 2010 Winter Olympics. They are exclusive homes with exclusive prices — they start at $1.6 million and top out at $7.3 million for the 4,714-square-foot penthouse — and they are being robustly embraced by buyers. “Previews” began on March 17, and by March 28, 21 had sold.
Those 21 homes, reports marketer Bob Rennie, are in addition to the 472 homes sold so far at the village — out of a total of 737 that Rennie Marketing Systems has been tasked with selling. Canada House buyers, he reported, are primarily west-side Vancouver residents who are seeking “a community that has amenities and where they don’t have to get in their cars all the time.” Among those seriously interested: a high-profile unnamed local with eyes on that penthouse, a stunning suite with almost 2,500 square feet of deck space that has dramatic outlooks north, south, east and west.
“The penthouse has had six visits from the same prospective buyer, with a design team, et cetera,” Rennie said. “So there is serious, serious interest in the penthouse from a Vancouver icon.” It was just over a year ago when, in a bid to kick-start sales, the one-time Millennium Water was rebranded and renamed, and prices adjusted downward. This, of course, came after receiver Ernst & Young had been earlier appointed by the courts to take possession of the development on behalf of the city of Vancouver and to oversee its marketing and sales.
When curtains came off the newly named Village on False Creek, Rennie announced his sales targets: he predicted he would sell 60 condos in the space of 60 days, and all of them within three years. At the time, Rennie notes today, the homes within the two waterfront Canada House buildings — 40 in one, 20 in another — were held back from the market. “Our advice was that we had no right to bring on homes at the high end until we stabilized the asset,” he explained. “We knew it was a ghost town, and that there weren’t enough people living here.”
At the time, the plan was to place the Canada House homes on the market around the fall of 2012. That schedule has now been tweaked forward, at least for the 40-unit building, which is recognizable for its slightly “twisted” exterior. (Rennie expects the remaining 20 will likely be up for sale before the end of the year.) “We’re [now] ahead of schedule, and what really helped to move us along, obviously, is the 472 sales. The ghost town cloud has disappeared. No one even talks about it any more. So now, with the asset stabilized, we have the right to bring on homeowners who want to live in front-row seats on the water.”
It’s resort living. Every day, you would come home and feel like you’re on a holiday. We want people to come down and see them. And if it’s not for them, well, everybody’s got a rich cousin.
principal, Rennie Marketing Systems
Those homeowners will live in an increasingly active community; a Terra Breads is among the businesses that have opened in the plaza, and an Urban Fare and London Drugs are soon set to open their doors. “The Terra Breads opening was really a game-changer, since people walking along the seawall can now really experience the village,” Rennie noted. “You can’t get a seat there on the weekend, and that just makes me smile.”
The Canada House residences, which Rennie noted were inspired by the late Arthur Erickson, but “brought to fruition” by the accomplished architect Nick Milkovich, are being sold with the assistance of three new show homes, all the handiwork of multiple-award-winning interior designer Robert Ledingham. While each has rich hardwoods, floor-to-ceiling windows, enormous balconies and numerous top-end touches — among them, Miele appliances, Sub-Zero refrigerators and German cabinetry — each has a unique floor plan. Cookie-cutter, they are not.
Those homes include a two-bedroom 1,607-square-foot unit that is selling for $1.309 million, a two-bedroom 1,868-square-foot unit that is selling for $1,720,900, and a three-bedroom home of more than 3,400 square feet that is selling for $3,425,900. All have additional den and family room spaces. Those show homes will be open for viewing today and Sunday, and by appointment only after that. “It’s resort living. Every day, you would come home and feel like you’re on a holiday,” Rennie said of the residences. “We want people to come down and see them. And if it’s not for them, well, everybody’s got a rich cousin.”
The Village on False Creek
Project size: 60 two- and three-bedroom homes (40 now for sale)
Residence size: 1,600 – 4,700 sq. ft
Address: 151 + 181 Athletes Way
Developer: The City of Vancouver; The Village on False Creek
Architects: Arthur Erickson and Nick Milkovich
Interior design: BNH CHIL; Display Suites: Robert Ledingham
Price: From $1.6 million
Sales centre: 1693 Manitoba St.
Hours: by appointment only