June 3, 2013

Neighbourhood renewal in North Vancouver

First of three towers scheduled to rise in Lower Lynn zone between now and 2017

Beacon at Seylynn Village

Project location: Fern Street and Mountain Highway, North Vancouver
Project size/scope: The first of three towers to be built on a 5.5-acre site, Beacon features 201 units. Suites range from 1-bedroom unit (571-593 sq. ft.); 1-bedroom/den (594-619 sq. ft.); 2-bedroom (841-1,019 sq. ft.); 2-bedroom/den (1,038-1,156 sq. ft.) sub-penthouses (974-1,356 sq. ft.); penthouses (1,929-2,008 sq. ft.)
Prices: 1 bedrooms from the low $300,000s; 2 bedrooms from the low $400,000s
Developers/Builders: Denna Homes/ITC Construction Group
Architect-Designer: DA Architects and Planners, Vancouver
Interiors: Insight Design Group
Contact: Tammy Vogan and Monique Davidson, sales managers
Phone: 604-980-5000
Web: www.seylynn.ca
Marketing and Sales: Pacesetter Marketing
Presentation Centre: 600 Mountain Highway
Hours: Noon-5 p.m., Sat.-Thurs.
Occupancy: 2015

Special to The Sun

David McLeod isn’t moving into his new neighbourhood until 2015, but his wait will be filled with anticipation of what he hopes will become “the Yaletown of North Vancouver.” “I want it to be an area of beauty and design where people coming across the Second Narrows Bridge will say: ‘So this is what North Vancouver looks like!’ ” McLeod, who owns a fire and flood restoration company headquartered nearby, says he was one of the first to sell his former home on the Seylynn Village site, paving the way for developer Denna Homes to set the pace for an ambitious plan to recast the Lower Lynn zone at the bottom of “The Cut” on the Trans-Canada.

He was also the first to buy a two-bedroom-and-den townhome on the ground floor of the 24-storey Beacon tower, the first of three scheduled to rise on the site between now and 2017. McLeod isn’t the only one seeing a bright future for the area of modest homes and small businesses in Lower Lynn, a future that envisions a bicycle-friendly neighbourhood with lots of shops and restaurants and instant access to the great outdoors for which the North Shore is famous.

Even before the presentation centre officially opens its doors on June 8, more than half of the Beacon’s 200 suites will have been sold. Nick Askew, whose firm Pacesetter Marketing is selling Beacon’s suites, says there has been strong investor interest from those who see the long-term potential for the new Lower Lynn neighbourhood. Askew, who bought two Beacon suites for his two teenage sons, says this is a typical pattern he saw when Pacesetter was involved in the revitalization of Yaletown and Lower Lonsdale, where property values have dramatically increased over the last few years.

With prices running about $70 to $100 a square foot less than the Lower Lonsdale area to the west, according to the Pacesetter team, buyers with patient money are seeing the potential of a new neighbourhood expected to be home for 5,000 people. Under the Official Community Plan for the new town centre, the area will be transformed by enhanced parks, all connected by greenways, bike paths and a pedestrian-friendly network of trails and urban walks that among other things will connect Seylynn with the Park & Tilford shopping centre to the west.

“It makes more sense to get in now when prices are at ground level,” says Sunny Hahm, also a member of the Pacesetter team. The developers, a new partnership that includes principals from Dubai and Iran, recognize that the pricing has to be attractive to ensure that the revitalization takes root in advance of the two other towers slated for the site. “We are really seeing Beacon as our lost leader because we need the buy-in from the local community and investors. I can almost guarantee that you are not going to see these prices in the next tower.”

The developer’s commitment to fostering the new neighbourhood has been substantial. Denna Homes has donated $2.5 million to the district to help fund the realignment of Keith Road connector to the Trans-Canada just north of building site. Denna also is constructing a community amenity, a 70-unit affordable rental complex on the site to be operated by the District of North Vancouver. And it is helping to fund the facelift of the Seylynn community centre directly west across Mountain Highway.

Responding to the community plan focus on bicycle paths, Beacon features bike lockers and a bike repair shop. Meanwhile, bus transit to downtown Vancouver is a 10-minute walk to Phibbs Exchange at the end of the bridge, which is also scheduled to become more bike-friendly in future. For those who want to stay closer to home, there are some major amenities planned for the Seylynn site: the 13,000-square-foot Seylynn Club will feature a 25-metre lap pool, hot tub, steam and sauna rooms, squash court, fully equipped fitness centre, yoga and dance studio, lounge and a licensed 2,500-square-foot child care facility.

The developers have also provided an unusual incentive to attract potential buyers. Everyone who books a tour at the presentation centre is given a key that enters them in a free draw for a one-bedroom home. Project architect Mark Ehman of DA Architects and Planners, says the Seylynn Village is “a very exciting site” and one of the first towers built in the district in several years. While the prime views are southwest to the Vancouver skyline, there are also excellent views from the highrise suites to the North Shore Mountains and east to Seymour and Burnaby.

Ehman said the building’s theme is distinctively modern while incorporating the best elements of mid-century architecture with the asymmetrical form of the building: the use of strong horizontal lines to articulate the mass and the use of colours such as rusty red and ochre. “The red and yellow relate to the (Ironworkers Memorial Bridge) itself and to the past history of the area which is industrial,” he said. The building’s name comes from a lantern or “beacon” at the top of the building that will glow at night and also mark the building as a gateway to North Vancouver.

Three high-speed elevators will whisk owners to their suites, an important feature considering the potential for rental suite traffic to dominate month-end movement. Inside the 1,160-square-foot display suite — it has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a den — the developers have delivered a high-quality product aimed at capturing another kind of potential buyer: residents in long-established neighbourhoods nearby who want to downsize by selling their single-family homes, but retain a foothold in the outdoor-recreation-rich North Shore.

A wide corridor with a den at the entrance leads to a compact European kitchen with an island. Adjoining is an open-area living and dining room with high ceilings and show-stopping views of the harbour and city of Vancouver. A wedge-shaped balcony is large enough to accommodate a condo-sized sofa at one end facing the spectacular city view. The drop-ceiling kitchens are fitted with full-sized premium appliances: a Bosch gas stovetop and oven and a Fisher-Paykel stainless steel refrigerator. A quartz-topped island features under-mount double sinks with Grohe fixtures and a Bosch dishwasher and stool space for casual dining or chatting with the cook.

The rectangular dining room-living room space accommodates a full-sized table and sofa. Laminate flooring is featured in the corridor, kitchen and living/dining area with carpeting in the bedrooms and porcelain tile in the spa-inspired bathrooms. Among some of the building’s superior quality features are offset walls and thicker than standard concrete floors to deaden sound transmission and triple glazing, which protects suites from the nearby Trans-Canada Highway traffic noise. An off-site Fortis energy plant will capture heat as a byproduct of supplying local industry, and pipe hot water to the Seylynn site. Air conditioning will be provided to Beacon from heat pumps atop the tower.

Beacon also has a decidedly green approach to cars and parking. The builders have built one parking space per suite but the 20 most expensive suites will have the opportunity to purchase additional parking from those in one bedroom units who choose to go carless. There are also provisions for Zip car parking and electric car stations.

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