May 1, 2012

When Everything’s At Your Doorstep

Development expected to eagerly embraced by buyers when the units are released today

Mandarin Residences
Project location: 6300 No. 3 Rd., Richmond
Project size: 348 studios and one- and two-bedroom homes (many with a “flex” space) in two 16-storey buildings
Residence size: 503 — 1,080 sq. ft
Price: $286,900 — $549,900
Developer: Fairborne Homes and Wall Financial
Architect: IBI Group
Interior design: BYU Interiors
Sales centre: 140 — 8171 Ackroyd Rd., Richmond
Hours: 11 a.m. — 6 p.m., Sat — Thurs, or by appointment
Telephone: 604-233-1687
Website: mandarinrichmond.com
Occupancy: Spring 2015
Grand opening: today, 10 a.m. — 6 p.m.

BY BARBARA GUNN
Vancouver Sun

A splashy launch is scheduled today for the release of the 348 condos in the Mandarin Residences in Richmond, and odds are they’ll be enthusiastically — and quickly — embraced by people who are looking for more than just a home. Many, no doubt, will also be drawn to the fact that the two 16-storey glass and concrete towers will be but steps from the Canada Line’s Brighouse Station, and directly opposite Richmond Centre mall. In other words, notes marketer Bob Rennie, residents will be “an elevator ride away from life.”

Rennie Marketing Systems has been tasked with selling the one- and two-bedroom condominiums, and the team is preparing for a busy opening — to put it mildly — given that more than 4,200 people have registered interest in the project, and given that the first 500 to show up will receive a $25 gift certificate to Richmond Centre.

The picture, of course, is reminiscent of another Canada Line-linked project Rennie has been associated with over the past few months: the PCI Group’s Marine Gateway. Some 11,000 people had expressed early interest in that project, which will rise adjacent to the Marine Drive station in south Vancouver. Within four hours of opening on March 17, all 415 homes were sold.

“The big thing is that you see people in Richmond going to work in the morning, and having their husband, wife, spouse or partner drive them to the Brighouse Station, the first stop on the Canada Line, so that they’ll get a seat into work …

“So similar to what happened on March 17 at Marine Gateway, where we pointed out that in the ’70s and ’80s, it was ‘location, location, location’ — and it always will be — and in the ’90s and through 2000, it was ‘timing, timing, timing;’ it is now ‘transportation, transportation, transportation.’”

The Mandarin Residences, a joint undertaking between Fairborne Homes and Wall Financial, is being introduced to prospective buyers courtesy of a well-appointed presentation centre east of No. 3 Road on Ackroyd. In recent weeks, reports Rennie, the centre — and its two smartly outfitted show homes — have seen as many as 100 people a day.

Those show suites, designed to replicate one- and two-bedroom units in the Mandarin, showcase multiple top-end touches; among them, built-in gas ranges, quartz countertops, recessed under-cabinet lighting and engineered hardwood floors, not to mention the imagined view possibilities beyond the units’ windows.

A scale model of the project further showcases the bigger picture, one that includes a rooftop terrace, shared garden plots, a fitness centre and an amenity room with a lounge, kitchen and fireplace. What the sales centre cannot fully speak to, however, is the neighbourhood in which the Mandarin Residences will rise. The towers will be surrounded by restaurants, near Minoru Park and the Richmond Olympic Oval, and within blocks of several major shopping centres. A train ride to Vancouver International Airport will be but 13 minutes, a trip to the Vancouver waterfront, 25.

Together, notes Rennie, that neighbourhood picture is making for a somewhat diverse group of interested buyers, among them young first-time buyers, investors, younger couples and baby boomers. As Rennie sees it, many younger buyers tend to be drawn to projects like the Mandarin Residences because of the transit connection — given that they sometimes choose to be car-less.

“Our younger buyer doesn’t value the car the way a baby boomer does,” he observes. “Their life survives, and their communication is by iPhone and iPad and BlackBerry and Facebook, whereas the baby boomer relied on a car to communicate and to find out what was going on.” With baby boomers, Rennie is also seeing an increasingly common residential shift — and in this case, one that for some people, speaks to homes both north and south of the Canada-U.S. border. “I believe we could do an entire talk on saving Arizona,” he says. “We have so many residents of Greater Vancouver buying in Arizona and Palm Springs, in hot climates …

“It always used to be, especially for the baby boomer, that the most valuable asset was the principal residence. I think that with the aging baby boomer, the most valuable asset is becoming their second home — where they want to be — and their principal home is where they have to be. And when the aging baby boomer is splitting it out, they can’t have two $1-million places. So it’s [a case of] where can they get the most lifestyle? If you’re a Richmond resident, this is your community.”

Different buyers will have different reasons for being drawn to The Mandarin Residences, but when all is said and done, notes Rennie, there are a couple of factors in real estate that will always be the most weighty. In this case, he says: The fact that 150 of the 348 homes are priced below $399,900.

“You can put in the ‘life at your doorstep’ [factor],” he says. “You can put in the transportation. But you always have to go back to the fundamentals. “It’s going to be about correct sizing, and layout and price. It will always be price, price, price … And we’ve sized this right, and we’ve priced it right.”

bgunn@sunprovince.com

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