November 29, 2012

Modern meets vintage

Like its New Westminster environs, Dominion speaks to both the past and present

A new addition to the Royal City; Woodframe, six-storey building fits in with the character of the New Westminster community


Project Address: 6th Street and Royal Ave., New Westminster
Project Size: 118 suites in a six-storey wood-frame building
Residence size: Studios to three bedrooms, from 378 to 957 square feet
Prices: From $159,900
Developer: Ledingham McAllister
Architect: Integra Architecture Inc.
Interior design: The Mill
Sales centre: 68 Sixth St., New Westminster, opens on Nov. 24 from Sun — Thurs
Phone: 604 525-8980
Occupancy: Fall 2013

Special to The Sun

Much like New Westminster, the city in which The Dominion will claim its home, Ledinghham McAllister has history on its side. In 1905, George W. Ledingham founded his company, which specialized in infrastructure and road building, constructing the Granville Street Bridge and downtown Vancouver’s Hudson Bay Company building. Now partnered with Ward McAllister, Ledingham McAllister — LedMac in short — has since carved a reputation as a multi-family residential builder.

At Dominion’s presentation centre, it’s clear Ledingham McAllister is having fun with New Westminster’s legacy. Baby blue Union Jack graphics on the building’s exterior cry out for Mother Britain; on the roof, meantime, an Austin Mini spins its motorized front wheels. Building in the Royal City was natural for the developer, according to Manuela Mirecki, Ledingham McAllister’s senior vice-president of marketing.

“We took a new fresh look at New Westminster and we said, ‘OK, this is an established community with a history, not dissimilar to our company.’ “This is the single most centrally located community in the Lower Mainland, with no bridges and no tolls. There are five (SkyTrain) stations servicing this area, depending which direction you’re going. There is a lot of architectural depth and character to New Westminster, and there’s a lot of renewed energy coming into this community.”

The Dominion’s site is walking distance to Front Street, the location of the original Chinatown, but now the hub of the city’s antiques and second-hand stores, with a charm so untouched it’s a favourite movie location (I Robot, New Moon, Rumble in the Bronx, to name a few). LedMac and interior designer, The Mill, have reflected the area with a suitable blend of contemporary and old-world moods.

The backsplash and the entire back wall of the show suite kitchen are covered in white “penny round” tiles. The chimney-style hood fan, antique-look hardware and square undermount sinks deserve the moniker “industrial light,” according to Mirecki, “because it’s so warm and accessible.” The modern-meets-vintage mood continues in the bathrooms.

Sleek cabinets and finishes on one side, a glass shower door hung by a barn-door track railing show two worlds melding so naturally together that it’s difficult to notice the diversity in their styles. The balcony in the two-bedroom display suite measures about 12 by 14 square feet; cement board beams on the ceiling add warmth and security. Considering the age and character of the neighbourhood, and the topography of the site, situated on a slight slope, Ledingham McAllister knew a woodframe six-storey would blend into the established community.

The exterior of the project, from Integra Architecture, blends brick and warm materials with lighter cladding on the upper floor. That brick blends cedar on soffits, glass inset railings, expansive roof overhangs and horizontal planes that extend beyond balconies’ edges. Entrances to ground-floor suites will stand on the street, in a townhome style, with their own garden patios on the building’s north face.

On the south side, facing the Fraser, ground-floor suites will stand on three levels of landscaping, giving homeowners privacy and complementing the building’s street presence. On the top-floor suites, windows stack upon windows, giving south-side top floor units a grand view of the Fraser. The building will be set back from the street and sidewalk. Its neighbours across the street — city hall and Tipperary Park, a green space with a large picnic area full of ponds, public art, and a cenotaph — give the community a sense of serenity, Mirecki says.

“The neighbourhood is just grassroots. It’s not affected.” Developers are adding to the social and commercial life of New Westminster’s waterfront and transit hubs, while keeping the city’s treasured character intact. The recently refurbished River Market on the Quay has brought in new restaurants, a fruit market, new eateries and cafés, a Safeway, a 10-screen multiplex, and is just a walk from the Army and Navy department store, built in 1939.

Royal Engineers established New Westminster in 1859, making it the oldest city in Western Canada. Queen Victoria gave the busy port city its name, and the more casual moniker of the “Royal City” was born. The city boomed after the 1885 completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway, centring around Columbia and Front Streets.

That neighbourhood is a destination today, well known for its antique stores, cafés, and independently owned businesses. More than a century later, the focus of B.C. growth gradually moved west, and New Westminster, in many ways, fell off the urban radar, with a new interest in developing around New Westminster SkyTrain stations, and a rejuvenation of the New Westminster Quay market.

This is New Westminster’s time, Mirecki says. “From Dominion, you have water views and there’s a historic legacy here. This community is the future. We know that it’s time for New Westminster.”


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