March 5, 2012

The Right Stuff

The mix of cool and quality at Allaire Properties’ Easton project in Coquitlam, a draw for first-time home buyers.


The Easton lures picky buyers with its excellent finishes. Project couples its emphasis on quality materials with a location that will be just a short walk from a planned new SkyTrain station.

He’s 24 years old, lives with his parents and has never owned a home before. But John DiTomaso has approached his search for a first home with an advantage that few have. DiTomaso has just finished his apprenticeship as an electrician and is on his way to becoming a fully qualified tradesman. He’s worked for many years on electrical systems for residential and commercial real estate across Greater Vancouver, so he knows his stuff. He can recognize the cheap from the high-quality fixtures and finishes of the new buildings he’s worked in.

“Sometimes I see the material they bring in [to developments] I’m working on, and it’s not high quality,” says DiTomaso. If his experience makes him a picky condo hunter, so be it. But it didn’t take him long to find exactly what he wanted. He recently signed a contract for a 600-square-foot one-bedroom at the Easton, a 72-unit condominium building in Coquitlam, on the Burnaby border.

At $233,900, the price was right, but DiTomaso says he bought the condo for the details. The construction materials and finishes — everything from the quartz countertops to light fixtures — drew him in, he says. “I see stuff they use in the buildings I work in and I’m not impressed by a lot of it. But this place blew me away. I like the materials they were using, and all the fundamentals were really nice. Everything I saw, I liked.” That wouldn’t come as a surprise to Howard Steiss of Red Dot Real Estate Marketing, the agents for the Easton.

Allaire Group president Marc Allaire worked for many years in construction with Bosa Properties before forming his own company, so attention to interior details and materials is a given, Steiss says. He notes many characteristics of the suite interiors that stand out with presentation-centre visitors — namely the high-end finishings and details like nine-foot ceilings, under-mount sinks, Whirlpool appliance packages, Samsung refrigerators, and quartz countertops — are all finishes that one would usually associate with more costly suites in Vancouver.

Integra Architecture has designed the building with a vaulted-ceiling front lobby containing a floor-to-ceiling fireplace, and generous patios on ground-floor suites. On the grounds outdoors, homeowners can enjoy their own community garden plots. The Easton will stand a block or so away from the planned Burquitlam SkyTrain station, an Evergreen line station linking the area with Coquitlam. That was attractive to DiTomaso.

“I saw in a real estate paper [Easton] was advertising the affordable living aspect,” he says. “But it’s down the street from Lougheed station and beside the [planned] new Burquitlam SkyTrain station, and it’s in a quiet area; so I thought, ‘it’s a great area and it’s going to go up in value.’ ”  The Allaire Group is counting on homebuyers’ attraction to the Evergreen Line SkyTrain station just a stroll from their front doors, and the project’s proximity to the Lougheed SkyTrain, B. C. Institute of Technology, Simon Fraser University, Coquitlam Centre and Douglas College, says Steiss.

“All suites are under $400,000. With the building being so close to transit, this is value you won’t find in any larger urban centre,” he says. Excavators are already working to prepare for construction on the $1.4 billion Evergreen line. The project, which will include six stations including the Burquitlam location, is expected to be complete by the summer of 2016. It will transport an estimated 70,000 passengers daily from Coquitlam City Centre to downtown Vancouver.

TransLink planning and development general manager Jim McIntyre told The Vancouver Sun in January that the prospect of the Evergreen Line has helped spur construction and more development in the Tri-Cities area. “The development community has seen the opportunities; they’ve been building here at a pretty frantic pace for a few years,” he told The Sun. A home’s proximity to transit is perhaps one of the strongest signs it will keep its value, according to a report by Vancouver real estate consultants Cutting Edge Research.

The report stated that a home’s value can be enhanced up to 20 per cent for homes within 500 metres of transit lines compared to those just outside that range. For DiTomaso, the opportunity to buy an affordable condo near transit couldn’t have come at a better time. Not many young people find themselves with the resources or the opportunity to purchase their first home at the tender age of 24, he admits. “I’m pretty mature for my age, and I’ve been wanting to do this for a few years now,” he says. “This is definitely a milestone for me.”

Project location: 617 Smith Ave. E., Coquitlam
Project size: 72 units including one-bedroom and one-bedroom and den suites; two-bedroom and two-bedroom and den suites
Residence sizes: From 511 to 954 square feet
Prices: From $219,900 to $398,000; 47 units available
Developer: Allaire Group
Architect: Integra Architecture
Interior Designer: Portico Interior Design
Sales Centre: 552 Clarke Rd., Burquitlam Plaza, Coquitlam
Hours: Sat-Thurs, noon -5 p.m.
Telephone: 604 936-2012
Occupancy: Summer 2013

Special to The Sun

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