August 15, 2012

False Creek project has a ‘perfect’ location

Buyer says The Residences at WEST has a site that will be ideal for his young adult childrenThe Residences at WEST

Project location: Southeast False Creek — West 2nd Avenue, Manitoba Street to Columbia Street
Project size: 189 homes in Phase 1
Residence size: 472 — 1,250 sq. ft.
Prices: One-bedrooms from $294,900; one-bedroom and den from $429,900; two-bedrooms from $499,900
Developer: Executive Group Development
Architect: Walter Francl Architecture
Interior design: Atmosphere Interior
Sales centre: 195 West 2nd Avenue
Hours: noon — 5 p.m., daily
Telephone: 604-707-9378
Email: info Fall 2014


Mike Michelin, a mortgage broker and financial planner, is adamant that his daughter and son appreciate the value of a dollar. He teaches them to manage their own finances and fosters their independence and accountability over their spending. So when he purchased a one-bedroom condominium in a new pre-sale development bound for southeast False Creek, it served as an object lesson in how to make a good financial decision, with effects that will provide years of stability.

The family bought a one-bedroom unit in the first tower of The Residences at WEST, a 15-storey, 189-unit building which will be complete in 2014. The tower will comprise the first of two phases of the project by Executive Group Development. Michelin and his family have lived in New Westminster for 15 years. As Michelin’s children grow, he says he sees their future in southeast False Creek because it just makes sense: by the time the condo is ready, his daughter will be in her second year of university. It will then be ready for his younger son if he needs a place to stay during his post-secondary studies. When both children are well into adulthood, the property could be ready to rent out, Michelin says.

“This is a perfect location, but besides that is the return on equity. The value is going to be sustained.” The building’s front looks on to West 2nd Avenue, while the rear looks out onto the collection of buildings that now make up the popular residential community of southeast False Creek, or the Village on False Creek. Michelin sees the blend of urban living and serene waterfront as the perfect environment for his grown children. “You get the downtown feel without the congestion or the cost.”

As the community that housed athletes from across the world for the Winter 2010 Olympic Games, the Village on False Creek is now a magnet for cyclists, pedestrians, shoppers and families who like to frequent the Creekside community centre and the large plaza, which features artist Myfanwy MacLeod’s larger-than-life art sculptures The Birds. In the last few months, a brew pub, restaurant, bakery-café, specialty liquor store, bank, specialty grocery store Urban Fare have opened their doors, to be joined soon by a new London Drugs.

After a sales launch in June, The Residences at WEST have just over 70 per cent sold. This stage will bring in the first 20,000 square feet of retail, while the second phase will bring in the remaining 23,000 square feet of shopping and commercial space. Architects Walter Francl’s design allows tower residents to see the waters of False Creek and the building’s tower portion has been designed to take full advantage of the view corridors that remain in between the condominium towers that already stand. On the West 2nd Avenue street front, portions of the building are framed in colourful blocks — a touch that adds character and whimsy to an area that has long been defined as a light-industrial street.

“Architecture always drives price. With good architecture, people may not be looking at it but they get it. It just feels right,” says Craig Anderson, Executive Group Development’s director of sales and marketing. While the street is developing from industrial to residential, the amenities are decidedly urban. WEST will stand half a block from a bus stop (the #84 route takes riders to UBC through the west side), and it’s a pleasant walk or bike ride on waterfront paths to both the Olympic Village and Main Street-Science World SkyTrain stations. The Fairview neighbourhood stands to the west and Mount Pleasant slightly to the east. Further east on West 2nd, the street turns into Great Northern Way, where another evolution is in progress: UBC, SFU, Emily Carr Institute and BCIT have broken ground on their new tech and design-based campuses.

Anderson admits the future looks bright. The Bank of Montreal will anchor one corner of the 43,000 square feet of WEST’S commercial space facing West 2nd Avenue, and the Executive Group is currently in talks with what he calls a “notable” coffee shop and other casual eateries and high-end restaurants that have attracted a foodie-following in established communities. Further prying will only push Anderson to tease. “There are a couple of cool, interesting restaurants based in Gastown,” expressing interest in the site, he hints.

Just as important, though, is an amenity that will serve the community and families in every nearby neighbourhood. The Executive Group has donated space on the green rooftop of the lower portion of the building for the construction of a 20,000-square-foot, $12-million daycare and child centre suited for 69 spots dedicated to the care of little folks as young as three to school-age children needing an after-school space.

Though it’s not among the first set of towers to occupy the village, WEST is due to become its new hub, Anderson says. He predicts that with its height, busy ground-floor retail, tempered glass and coloured exterior frames, WEST will stand out predominantly from both the village and the bustling West 2nd Avenue and become an icon in itself. “With 43,000 square feet of commercial it’s going to be the centre of the village. How many times do people reference buildings not as their name but what they have? This will be ‘the one with the daycare,’” he says.

Directly behind the building, Executive Group Development will build a pedestrian walkway to connect the building and its residents directly into the Village on False Creek, connecting it into the more established neighbourhood, and vice versa. WEST’s amenity space goes beyond the expected, with what Anderson calls a technology lab, including offices with Wi-Fi power, and a professional meeting space. Executive Group Development made its name as a developer of fine boutique hotels across B.C., Alberta and California and Washington. In recent years, the company ventured into residential development. WEST’s interior layout and décor reflect the company’s background as an hotelier.

In the entrance, a large closet stands on one side, directly across from a laundry closet on the other. Facing the visitor is a flex space that could be suited for a roomy walk-in storage or office space. Bathrooms are important — a signature sign of luxury of comfort a guest usually gets in a hotel, he says. Pocket doors between the bedrooms and ensuites save space, and the medicine and under-counter storage are far more spacious than standard new cabinetry. Michelin says he was impressed with the efficient use of space in the one-bedroom suite he purchased, as it will make it even more marketable to potential renters.

“We’re going to see a whole diverse culture of people in there, whether its going to be young professionals, students and families. There are so many different price points there that we’ll be seeing a wide array of people.”

Special to The Sun

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