May 22, 2012
Rooted In Tradition
BY MARY FRANCES HILL
Not long after he purchased a pre-sale Coquitlam condominium with one bedroom and a den last year, Stephen Chan did what many excited first-time homebuyers would do to mark the occasion. “After they cleared the land for the building, I went down to the construction site and stood in my dirt,” says Chan, a 32-year-old Coquitlam native.
Chan had purchased a 750-square-foot condo in Georgia, one of three Mosaic Homes projects that will stand within walking distance to the planned Evergreen SkyTrain line’s Burquitlam station. Mosaic’s sales team has seen that enthusiasm before. As the company prepares for sales of Emerson, a 63-suite development in the burgeoning neighbourhood, it is expecting to see the same number of interested first-time buyers as it did during sales of the two previous buildings, Georgia and Foster.
“If you grew up here and wanted to buy your first home in this neighbourhood, there were very few options,” says Geoff Duyker of Mosaic Homes. The West Coquitlam community at the Burnaby border is comprised of several older single-family homes, but few smaller, more affordable residences. “We’ve never worked on a project where there were as many first-time homebuyers as we’ve seen in the last 10 months. We expect the same with Emerson.” Mosaic has taken the best-loved architectural and design details from the single-family projects it has constructed and applied those to its condominium projects.
That crisp, manicured look of Georgian-style architecture, for instance: the design is a trademark of a Mosaic home because it’s popular among buyers who don’t want the exteriors of their homes to look dated some 30 years into the future. “We found that our buyers really appreciate traditional exterior architecture,” Duyker says. “There are some design principles that allow it to work pretty well. Georgian buildings built 100 years ago are just as esthetically pleasing today.”
At Emerson, there are individual exterior entrances to the ground-floor apartments, much like townhome layouts. Each suite includes a small front garden and gate. That design “helps with the scale and makes it look more residential,” Duyker says. A posh decorative moulding lines the front door of every indoor suite. The effect has a design esthetic, yes, but it’s psychological as well, Duyker adds. “[We think] an entry to a home is significant. We think it’s somewhat ceremonial, with a sense of arrival. It’s like, a threshold, when you’re going from public to a private space.”
The 880-square-foot two bedroom, two-bathroom show suite was designed for privacy. Two closets line each side of the wall in the master suite, creating a hallway of sorts into the master ensuite bathroom. The second bedroom, while not as contained as the master, is three steps away from the second bathroom. This intimate design “works for a bunch of different living situations,” Duyker explains.
Buyer attracted by proximity to transit, design
“If you’re a parent and want to live here with a child, there is separation, so a child has their zone with their own bedroom and bathroom. It also works well if you are an investor and you can rent it out to roommates.” Ease of movement in the common living space is carefully thought out as well, Duyker notes. The kitchen is laid out with both open and conventional shelving on the walls, quartz countertops on the preparation area and breakfast bar. The long backsplash is covered in linear glass tile. The refrigerator, microwave area and storage are built into a wall opposite the main kitchen area — a design detail that extend the width of the meal-preparation space.
The living space in every one of Mosaic’s living rooms is a minimum of 13 feet wide, enough room for large furnishings and a media wall unit, he adds. There’s also ample space for circulating between the kitchen island/breakfast bar and the dining area. Mosaic’s carefully-planned interiors and the community’s convenient transit hub eventually got Stephen Chan to part with his hard-earned down payment, he says. After a lifetime in Coquitlam, he’s not planning to leave anytime soon, but if he had to, he is confident that his home would keep its value.
The 11-kilometre rapid transit line linking Burnaby, Port Moody and Coquitlam is expected to bring commuters from Coquitlam to downtown Vancouver in 40 minutes, shaving about 45 minutes off highway commute times. Chan is not alone in connecting home value to SkyTrain proximity, according to Duyker. More than 230 condominiums in Georgia and Foster have sold in the past 10 months. “The Evergreen line is incredibly important to our buyers, who see what happens to developments around transit. Smart buyers understand the impact it will have on long-term value to their home.“
For now, though, Chan says he’s both anxious and relieved to see the new community taking shape. When he says it’s taking shape, he means it — literally. Every few days he drives by the Georgia site, steps away from where Emerson will be built, and he watches the progress of the construction of his top-floor suite. “Right now, I have a floor and some walls, but no roof,” he laughs.
Project location: West Coquitlam
Project size: 63 one-bedroom, one-bedroom and den, two-bedroom, two-bedroom and den suites
Residence size: 598 — 1,160 sq. ft.
Prices: From the mid-$200,000s
Developer: Mosaic Homes
Architect: Ramsay Worden Architects
Interior design: BBA Design Consultants
Sales centre: 552 Clarke Rd., West Coquitlam
Hours: noon — 6 p.m., daily
Occupancy: Winter 2013