October 23, 2012

Townhome development fits right in

Units blend into area traditionally reserved for large, single-family homes

The Crescent on McRae
Address: 1450 McRae Ave., Vancouver
Project size: 15 units (four three-level units; 11 two-level units)
Residence size: 1,350 sq. ft — 3,500 sq. ft.
Prices: From $1.8 million
Developer: Arthur Bell Holdings Ltd.
Marketing: Lynn Johnson, Heather Notman, Vita Kalns and Bruce Warner of MacDonald Realty
Architect: James Bussey of Formwerks Architectural
Construction: Axiom Builders
Interior design: Mona Foreman of Sheffield Design Studios
Sales centre: By appointment only
Website: www.thecrescentonmcrae.com
Telephone: 604-652-2515
Occupancy: Dec. 1, 2012
On sale: Now

Chantal Eustace
Special to The Sun

Developer Brian Bell surveys the view of Vancouver from the rooftop patio of his latest offering, The Crescent on McRae. “It’s spectacular,” says Bell, of Arthur Bell Holdings Ltd., smiling at son Austen, who worked alongside him on the 15-townhome development off 16th Avenue and Granville Street. On a clear day, you can easily see the city’s waterfront and the mountains beyond.

Each unit boasts its own private rooftop deck accessible through a skylight hatch, says Bell, each with a “tremendous view.” Inside and out. Befitting the established neighbourhood, the overall look and feel of The Crescent on McRae is elegant, classic and high end. Ranging from 1,350 square feet to 3,500 square feet, the two- and three-storey townhomes start at $1.8 million.

Designed by architect James Bussey of Formwerks Architectural, they are designed to fit with their Shaughnessy neighbourhood, Bell says. The residences homes feature concrete construction, with brick cladding, columns and custom-cut sandstone trim and balustrades. They’re also gold rated by BuiltGreen BC, with “intelligent” features such as geo-thermal heating and air conditioning, as well as energy-efficient windows and exterior wall insulation.

The development also includes plenty of green space linking all the homes together. Designed by landscape architect Paul Sangha, this includes a water feature. Residents have access to 49 secure underground parking spots, as well as their own private garage and entry. “It feels like a house,” says Bell, walking down the stairway, through the front room and into the main living area. “It’s a traditional house feel, with the cross-hall living room.”

Bell sits down on a comfortable couch, next to a large gas fireplace with a custom cement surround and mantle. This fits nicely with the room’s 10-foot ceilings and large windows, further brightened by large doors leading to the patio area. “It’s exciting to see your concept come to fruition,” says Bell, who purchased the site in 2005. “You can see it and you can feel it.”

It hasn’t always been easy. “It has been exciting and challenging,” Bell says. “It’s exciting now that we’re getting to the finish line.” Situated on a 1.3-acre lot next to the designated heritage Nichol mansion, at the northern edge of Vancouver’s prestigious Shaughnessy neighbourhood and next to South Granville’s shopping strip, the project has inspired a good deal of public interest.

Not everyone in the area was thrilled at the idea of putting up townhomes beside the century-old mansion, or in an area traditionally reserved for large, single-family homes. Some critics were particularly vocal, Bell says. “I was surprised by the level of intensity,” he says. “It somehow got out of hand.” In the end, Bell’s plans were approved after plenty of input from the city and the community.

He’s happy with how the project evolved, he says, and the end result. “It’s a very prominent corner of Vancouver and given that I live in the area and know lots of people here, I’m sort of putting myself out there,” he says. “I wanted to make sure that the end result would prove me right.” Inside, buyers will find homes that are traditional with plenty of elegant touches, care of designer Mona Foreman of Sheffield Design Studio. There are five different colour schemes, each using natural stone and hardwood flooring in the main living space, and soft carpeting on the stairs and in the bedrooms.

Coffered ceilings and crown mouldings add a traditional touch to the modern amenities and comforts within, like elevators in the five largest homes or metal and wood stair railings. Master bedrooms have balconies and generous walk-in closets. In the show home, the master bedroom has its own sitting area and the ensuite has a large shower and modern-looking soaker tub, compete with German designed cabinetry by Eggersmann, and radiant heat flooring.

The kitchen is warm and comfortable, homey on a grand scale with top of the line appliances and finishing. Stone-topped countertops gleam next to white cabinetry, with nicely placed integrated appliances like a Sub-Zero fridge with freezer drawers and a separate, under-counter wine fridge. So far, he says, home shoppers are enthusiastic about what they’re seeing. The location is excellent, close to downtown Vancouver and all the amenities of South Granville.

He isn’t surprised that the first home to sell went to a local Shaughnessy couple, he says, familiar with the area and impressed with the Crescent on McRae. “Everybody is very complimentary,” Bell says. “They like the quality and attention to detail.”

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