December 17, 2011

Strong Demand for Foster Residences

Buyers quick to respond to MOSAIC apartments, with 75 per cent snapped up in a month

Project name: Foster
Project location: 559 Foster Ave., Coquitlam
Project Size: Phase three, 54 units in a four-storey building; entire project is 161 homes in three buildings
Residence size: 1 bed 564 — 607 sq. ft; 1 bed + den 750 sq. ft; 2 bed 887 — 994 sq. ft; 3 bed 983 sq. ft
Prices: 1 bed from $233,800; 1 bed + den from $313,800; 2 bed from $348,800; 3 bed from $385,800
Sales centre: 552 Clarke Rd., Coquitlam
Hours: noon — 6 p.m. daily
Telephone: 604-936-9300
Web: www.mosaichomes.com
Developer: MOSAIC
Architect: Ramsay Worden Architects
Interior Designer: BBA Design Consultants
Sales begin: underway
Occupancy: Spring 2013

BY CLAUDIA KWAN

When he decided to buy his first home, 26-year-old Leigh Sembaluk had an open mind. He quickly zeroed in on finding something from MOSAIC, though — after other companies kept on bringing up the developer’s name.  “I probably looked at eight different projects, and each time, I asked them what other developers they would recommend,” he explains. “They talked about MOSAIC every time — about how well the floor plans were designed, and how they had never heard anything bad about them.”

He set his sights on the Foster project. With its proximity to SFU’s Burnaby Mountain campus (a five-to-eight-minute drive), it would mean both a short commute and good rental prospects, if Sembaluk one day decided not to live there.

Both the Lougheed Highway and the Trans-Canada are easily accessible. When the planned Evergreen Line is finished, it will mean residents of Foster can get to four different SkyTrain stations within a five-kilometre radius (in combination with the existing Millennium Line stations.)  “The pricing for the condos was done before the Evergreen got the final okay [from government]. I feel like I really got a deal,” says Sembaluk.

Geoff Duyker of MOSAIC says the potential of the neighbourhood was recognized — it’s right on the border between Burnaby and Coquitlam — early on. “There has not been any new low-rise apartment buildings here in probably 10 years,” he says. “This pocket was underdeveloped, especially since it’s so central. There is clearly pent-up demand for quality apartment housing.”  MOSAIC says it was able to pass significant savings on the land costs to the buyers, with every home priced under $400,000. Consumers have been responding in droves, with three-quarters of the project selling in a month. And that demand seems to have taken on a life of its own.

“We had a first-time homebuyer come in, and she bought a place. She brought her middle-aged dad in, and he took one. Then he liked it so much, he told his sister and brother-in-law that they should live here too!” Duyker says with a laugh.

In addition to the pricing and the location in an area poised for appreciation, the team at MOSAIC wanted to give Foster buyers some high style.  The scale model of the site puts it into context of the larger neighbourhood. The top floors of each building are stepped back and painted a bright white, which makes them visually recede — a casual observer sees three-storey buildings rather than the true height of four storeys.

As Benn Duffell of MOSAIC explains, once it was determined how the buildings would be placed on the site, everything clicked. “The magic of the project is orienting the narrow ends of the building to the street. It creates cohesive buildings . . . it reads as a community.”  Placing the rectangular buildings in that fashion makes them appear quite narrow to pedestrians walking along the sidewalks; it’s a gentle way of integrating a higher density residential site with the surrounding single-family homes.

It also leaves an opportunity to be creative with the green space for the project. Between Buildings 1 and 2 is a somewhat formal courtyard garden, while the courtyard between Buildings 2 and 3 is a little more oriented toward children, with several play areas. The other side of Building 3 faces park land owned by the city, with a meandering path for strollers.

Visitors to the sales centre have been awestruck by the rendering of the finished building, reports Geoff Duyker, and charmed by its distinctively Georgian architectural details. Wrought-iron balustrades frame neat little balconies, while symmetrical windows delineated in white march neatly along the face of the red brick buildings. It’s easy to imagine colourful flowers blooming in the charming window boxes, or alighting at the grand portico entrance after an evening out.

Equal care has been paid to the entryways for the individual homes, with the doors offset by carved decorative panels that resemble plaster. In contrast to the romantic Georgian exteriors, however, the interiors are crisply contemporary.  The most clever design innovation inside is demonstrated inside the show suite, which is a model for a two-bedroom home. The kitchen features the stove/oven and sink located in the usual places, but the refrigerator has been removed from the kitchen entirely.  Instead, it has been shifted to the wall just past the entryway, where you would traditionally see a double closet for jackets and shoes. (A closet is still available, just shrunk slightly to a single.)

The microwave has also been moved to that wall, which includes a shelf perfect for cocktail-making paraphernalia, and some cabinets. The result is that the space can be used as a mingling area, rather than just being a static entry.  Much thought has been put into a stylish spice rack ranging along the back cabinets, as well as some open shelving. Storage space is maximized even in the corners of the kitchen, with shiny door pulls revealing ample space for pots and pans. The counter overhang leaves enough room for a comfortable breakfast bar.

The same level of care has been devoted to the bathroom, where inset niches leave room for shampoo bottles and soap dishes, and a computer desk area, with a wall cutaway to improve sight lines in the home. The layout features two bedrooms separated by a living room, making it ideal for roommates, a family with an older child, or for downsizers who don’t want to be cheek by jowl with a guest.

MOSAIC believes it’s found an area with immense potential to grow and evolve.  Sembaluk appears to have bought into the idea as well, with the purchase of a three-bedroom unit. He says he may turn one room into a den, and his sister may join him from out of province to attend SFU.  The possibilities are numerous, now that he’s finally found the right place to be.

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