West Coast condos to rise on rare waterfront site

Concert Properties to build out one of Vancouver’s last available False Creek properties
Thursday, July 9, 2015
By Michelle Ervin

Concert Properties is this month preparing to launch Voda, the first of four condominium buildings that will be constructed on one of the last parcels of waterfront property in Vancouver. Collectively, the buildings will form a master-planned community to be known as The Creek, after its location on the southeast corner of False Creek.

The project began in earnest four years ago, when Concert acquired the property from TransLink, the corporation responsible for Metro Vancouver’s regional transportation network.

“For us, it was a unique opportunity to acquire what is really one of the last remaining waterfront sites on False Creek that isn’t already controlled by others,” said Brian McCauley, president and chief operating officer, Concert Properties.

The location also positioned the developer immediately next to city lands designated as a future park and in close proximity to the now desirable Olympic Village. Following the Olympic Village’s false start, which was largely attributed to the 2008 financial crisis, the neighbourhood-in-transition has cast off its initial image as ghost town.

“As Vancouver goes, you’re going to see a lot of new development that is focused on the False Creek Flats,” said McCauley. “Farther east of Main Street, you’ve got a new hospital, St. Paul’s Hospital, just down on Terminal and you’ve got Emily Carr and the arts school that’s being relocated onto the False Creek Flats.”

Slated for 1661 Quebec St., the 16-storey Voda tower will be defined by extensive use of glass. Its “light box” forms are intended to reflect the surrounding natural environment. At ground level, a heavy timber plaza, complete with pond and pedestrian mews, will echo the neighbourhood’s industrial past.

Voda’s design is the product of a joint venture between Rafii Architects and Richard Henry Architect. BBA Design Consultants has been tapped to infuse the tower’s interiors with a West Coast vibe.

Its 174 suites, ranging from one bedroom to two bedrooms plus den, will measure from approximately 450 to 1,500 square feet. Seven townhouses will measure between approximately 1,100 and 1,250 square feet.

Voda’s amenities will include a fitness room and an eighth-floor lounge with adjacent rooftop terrace and garden.

McCauley predicts that this first phase of The Creek will appeal to a broad cross-section of buyers, from first-timers to downsizers and even downtowners looking to trade up. He views the fact that the condominium buildings are purely residential, as opposed to mixed uses, as a selling point.

Concert Properties has yet to release pricing, but McCauley said the first phase will be the most affordable of the community’s phases, which will ultimately deliver around 600 suites. Future phases will be situated next to the future city park or False Creek and will contain progressively larger unit sizes for fewer numbers of suites overall.

The City of Vancouver requires that rezoning applications be built to LEED Gold standards. The master-planned community will meet this requirement with features such as green roofs, high-performance exterior envelopes and stormwater capture and re-use. Other elements of the project with points-earning potential include car share vehicles and electric car-charging stations; energy efficient, motion-controlled lighting in common areas; and a smart sorting lounge for on-site composting and recycling.

Voda is scheduled to begin sales in late July, with more than 3,000 pre-registrants lined up to date. If sales go well, said McCauley, the second and third buildings will likely launch in spring 2016.

The project’s launch comes at a time when the city’s real estate market is continuing a red-hot run. Last month’s Greater Vancouver sales set a record in number of transactions for the month of June. Apartment sales increased 35.6 per cent, year over year, and the benchmark apartment price rose 5.6 per cent, to slightly more than $400,000.

Amid concerns that house prices in Canada are due for a correction, especially in metropolitan pockets like Vancouver, The Creek is being pitched as a rare waterfront investment that will hold its value over time.

Michelle Ervin is the editor of CondoBusiness.

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