With The Main, Gravitas introduces community-focused housing in Squamish
The Vancouver Sun
Project location: 37881 Cleveland Ave, Squamish
Project size: 110 units, one and two bedrooms, 428 to 1,158 square feet, priced between $219,900 and $597,900
Architect: a|k|a architecture + design
Interior designer: LOT30 DESIGN INC
Sales centre: 1416 Winnipeg St., Squamish
Hours: noon— 5 p.m., Sat — Thurs
Occupancy: Fall 2018
Finding affordable, quality housing within striking distance of Vancouver is not easy these days. But in Squamish, a mountain community less than an hour from the downtown core, Gravitas Partners has been developing multi-family housing with a focus on affordability and a strong local community.
Gravitas is a small development company spearheaded by Mario Gomes and Michael Henson. Their most notable project to date was Parkhouse, a building of 65 condos just outside Squamish’s downtown, which sold out within 90 minutes. Their latest effort is The Main, a multi-family residential building in the heart of town.
Henson explained how the company’s approach to Parkhouse helped ensure it would be affordable for local residents.
“The average household in Squamish is making between $80,000 to $100,000 per year and the biggest issue with housing affordability for that demographic is the down payment,” he said. “We didn’t want investors, we wanted to build community, so we created deposit programs that would make it affordable to local buyers. The idea was: you build your deposit while we build your home. The amount people were paying to build their deposit was effectively the same amount they would pay for their mortgage.”
About 65 per cent of the buyers at Parkhouse were local to the Sea to Sky area and more than half of those were from Squamish. Henson explained that the market has picked up somewhat since then and apartments at The Main are slightly more expensive as a result. Even so, 45 per cent of buyers so far have been local to the Sea to Sky area.
The Main will stand at the corner of Main Street and Cleveland Avenue, the town’s main drag. It will consist of 110 condos on top of about 10,000 square foot of commercial space.
“We’re very keen to control who goes into that commercial space initially, again because we’re really trying to create that sense of community,” Henson said. “We’ve done quite a bit of work to ensure that there’s interactivity between the street and the building. There will be multi-use seating areas, the sidewalks are much bigger than normal and the commercial spaces have those garage-style doors so that diners can sit outside in the summer, for example.”
The building is designed by a|k|a architecture + design, a local firm that is heavily invested in the community. It features a private garden retreat for all residents, a pet and bike wash zone, secure bike storage and a green roof that will increase the life of the waterproofing membrane, decrease storm water flow and increase energy efficiency and biodiversity.
Kitchens have wood-grain laminate for lower cabinets and high-gloss finish for upper cabinets with soft-close hardware. There are engineered quartz countertops with modern textured tile backsplashes and stainless steel under-mounted sinks with faucets and pull-out sprayers. The energy-efficient, stainless steel kitchen appliance packages include over-the-range microwave/ hood fan combinations, super capacity dishwashers, top-mount fridges, and self-clean ranges with built-in ovens.
Bathrooms feature engineered quartz countertops with ceramic tiling and slim-profile dual-flush toilets. Four-piece ensuites in select homes have under-mounted sinks, soaker tubs and walk-in showers.
“We’re really targeting that young, adventurous, entrepreneurial, community-oriented demographic of buyers,” said Henson. “We have fibre optic cables going to every condo because we recognize that the way people work is changing and we wanted to cater for people who run tech businesses from home. At The Main, they’ll have faster Internet speeds than you would get even in downtown Vancouver.”
This last feature was a pleasant surprise for Steve Davis, the father of a young family who has bought a two-bedroom apartment at The Main.
“That is a huge thing for us digital nomad folks,” he said. “I’m in the technology sector myself and it makes a big difference when you are going to the city one or two days per week and then doing a lot of work from home.”
“We’re living in Kitsilano, but we’re a growing family and we were looking at Squamish because it offers a very nice community feel,” Davis added. “Everybody seems to know their neighbour. For people that want to have access to the best of what the city has to offer, but also be able to really detach in the evenings and on weekends, it’s a fantastic option. I grew up in North Vancouver, I do downhill mountain biking and I’ve been skiing up at Whistler since I was four years old so it’s an ideal spot for me.”
The Davis family and the other buyers at The Main are scheduled to take possession of their new homes in the fall of 2018. They range in size from 428 to 1,158 square feet and are priced between $219,900 and $597,900.
“When I was growing up in the 1980s and 90s, Squamish just wasn’t on my radar,” Davis said. “It was just a place that you would stop in on the way to Whistler. But it’s just come together so much in the last little while – you’re seeing better restaurants opening up, more education options, all kinds of amenities and a real sense of community. It feels great to be riding that wave.”
© 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
The Canadian Press has learned that the Ontario government will place a 15-per-cent tax on non-resident foreign buyers as part of a much-anticipated package of housing measures to be unveiled today.
The measures are aimed at cooling down a red-hot real estate market in the Greater Toronto Area, where the average price of detached houses rose to $1.21 million last month, up 33.4 per cent from a year ago.
Premier Kathleen Wynne and Finance Minister Charles Sousa have said the measures will target speculators, expedite more housing supply, tackle rental affordability and look at realtor practices.
Sousa says investing in real estate is not a bad thing, but he wants speculators to pay their fair share.
He says the measures will also look at how to expedite housing supply, and he has appeared receptive to Toronto Mayor John Tory’s call for a tax on vacant homes.
Sousa has also raised the issue of bidding wars, and has suggested realtor practices will be dealt with in the housing package.
The Liberals have also said that the government is developing a “substantive” rent control reform that could see rent increase caps applied to all residential buildings or units. Currently, they only apply to buildings constructed before November 1991.
Copyright © 2017 Key Media Pty Ltd
List property publicly to get best price, but be ready for a court fight
Our strata is considering the option of selling. We have been approached by a developer who has offered us all 20 per cent above our current assessed values.
Because our strata is only 32 units, it has been suggested that we each negotiate directly with the developer, but what happens if only 10 owners sell? How does an 80-per-cent vote apply if one owner controls more than 20 per cent of the votes and tries to block the sale unless we agree to the conditions they set out in the sale?
Our owners are trying to look at the best option to consider, and we still have eight owners who are very much opposed to a sale, so the chances of winding up are unlikely. Several owners are suspicious because the developer is dealing directly with one council member and the remaining owners have not been a part of the discussions.
Our real question relates to the best method of a sale. How do we get the best deal that is fair and treats everyone fairly?
The concept you are looking for is transparency. Your strata corporation is a collective of owners considering whether to wind up your strata corporation and sell it to a buyer. Other than the number of units and technical requirements of the legislation, think of this as a routine real estate sale. How do you get the best price? You list your home with an agent, go to market, review offers, counter offer and negotiate the terms and conditions of the deal. The best results come from the same process for a large-scale windup.
The strata corporation retains a commercial broker, acting in their sole interest who markets the property on a worldwide scale, and depending on your location and development potential in the next three to 10 years, will bring you a number of offers.
Your strata council act as your representative and may counter offer to the highest bidders and ultimately negotiate an offer it can bring to the owners to consider.
I would strongly recommend you retain a lawyer who has experience with the winding-up process to review your brokerage agreement and terms and conditions of a sale before you sign. The technical and legal requirements of the Strata Property Act, and the requirements for resolutions and accurate governance at the meeting where you vote by 80 per cent are daunting and mistakes are easily made. If you pass an 80-per-cent vote, but less than 100 per cent of the owners are in favour, a court application is required to approve the sale of the strata and winding up of the strata corporation.
If one person is trying to convince your owners to negotiate with only one developer, the only logical conclusion for resisting open competition for your property is that they likely have a side deal that no one else is aware of.
The change in the vote to 80 per cent is less than a year old and a number of conflicts around undisclosed settlements with individual owners have already arisen. Avoid conflicts and undisclosed settlements, list your property and go public.
© 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Yukon Residences at 450 West 59th Avenue 32 one, two, three and four bedroom flats and townhouses by Alabaster Homes
Alabaster Homes? development offers ?homey? touch to owners looking to downsize
Mary Frances Hill
Where: 450 West 59th Ave., Vancouver
What: 32 one-, two- and three-bedroom (garden flats); and three- and four-bedroom (townhomes)
Residence sizes and prices: One, two and three- bedroom garden flats: (511 to 1,626 square feet) and townhomes (1,410 to 1,640 square feet), from $600,000 (garden flats) and from $1.7 million (townhomes)
Developer and builder: Alabaster Homes
Sales centre: 301 — 1788 W. Broadway
Sales centre hours: Call for appointment at 604-558-5850
To find inspiration for her work on the design of the spaces at Yukon Residences, Brenda Chiu looked to the features of the building and the community that surrounds it.
“It is important for the interiors to feel home-y, beautiful and timeless. [In this case], it really reflects the building’s architecture and the neighbourhood,” says Chiu of the Alabaster Homes’ development at West 59th in Vancouver. “The interior esthetics were inspired from the exterior architectural style.”
Considering that the building was crafted in a manner reminiscent of Victorian architecture, Chiu and the designers at Area3 Design thought it was befitting to decorate indoors in a “transitional” style. Transitional design brings in some elements of the contemporary, but in an understated way, blending it with a decidedly traditional look. This style appeals to many of the home buyers attracted to Yukon Residences, who are downsizing from larger houses.
Chiu describes the method behind creating a traditional vibe, with a touch of contemporary upgrade: she and Area3 Design designers started by setting the tone and colour scheme with the hardwood flooring and cabinetry colour. One scheme, comprising white cabinetry with warm taupe oak-stained engineered hardwood, “is classic and timeless,” she says. Chiu chose the second theme, which includes grey cabinetry with coordinating grey stained oak engineered hardwood flooring, for its “modern transitional” characteristics, she adds.
Area3 Design then created interest through layering contrasting finishes and materials, such as the chevron marble backsplash and contrasting colour quartz countertop. The transitional appeal can be found in the details.
“Transitional details can be seen on the shaker cabinetry, crown mouldings, interior door panelling, and the wide-set lavatory faucet with cross handles,” says Chiu. “Every design detail has been selected carefully to enhance the transitional characteristics and to give the home owners an exceptional quality-built home.”
Chiu and her colleagues are experienced in designing for homes that appeal to older buyers looking to sell their larger homes for smaller suites that are easier to maintain. She says these buyers would do well to arm themselves with a plan to purge, and, importantly, to gauge the layout of the new space.
“I think the worst thing is moving all the your furniture and finding out that it won’t fit and you just live with it,” she advises.
“This makes the rooms not functional and creates stress. So, it’s a good idea to come up with a furniture plan before moving into a new home.”
© 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Housing markets in Toronto and Vancouver are heading in opposite directions but a prominent real estate executive believes that the downward turn for Vancouver may not last.
Royal Le Page president and CEO Phil Soper has given his assessment of the market as his brokerage releases its latest House price Survey. The figures show a 12.6 per cent year-over-year gain for house prices nationwide in the first quarter of 2017 to $574,575.
The two hottest housing markets are in focus, particularly for their differing trajectories.
“For the first time in several years, real estate markets in Vancouver and Toronto are headed in opposite directions,” said Soper. “The Vancouver market stalled, as confused consumers took to the sidelines after a series of uncoordinated moves by all three levels of government. With the housing shortage becoming more acute, Toronto easily stepped forward to assume the title of Canada’s most overheated real estate market.”
But while sales have dropped in Vancouver, and RLP’s data shows a 40 per cent decline in activity in the Lower Mainland, Soper says that those who chose not to sell their homes when the foreign buyer tax was introduced, may now go ahead.
“There is now reason to believe that the market correction underway in Vancouver may be short-lived,” said Soper. “The reality is that as much as 90 per cent of the housing activity that disappeared overnight in the Lower Mainland after the tax was introduced was from Canadian residents, not foreign investors. Homebuyers are waking up to this reality and may be ready to rush back into the market.”
For Toronto, Soper says the co-operation between federal and provincial governments is a good thing and that hasty regulations could cause a sharp correction in the market.
Elsewhere, he says the market is balancing with Alberta looking brighter and Quebec emerging as one of the healthiest housing markets in Canada.
Despite risks to the economy, including global factors, Soper says that the Canadian housing market is healthier than it has been for years but concluded: “Our concerns with the state of Canadian real estate begin and end with Toronto and Vancouver.”
Copyright © 2017 Key Media Pty Ltd
Canadian Real Estate Wealth
It was a record-breaking month for Canadian real estate in March.
The association says home sales over its Multiple Listings Service system increased by 1.1 per cent in March to top the previous monthly record set in April 2016.
Sales were up on a month-over-month basis in more than half of the local markets measured, led by Greater Vancouver and the nearby Fraser Valley region in B.C. as well as London, Ont., St. Thomas, Ont. and Montreal.
Compared with a year ago, sales were up 6.6 per cent as gains in the Greater Toronto Area led the way.
“The current strength in national home sales mainly speaks to what’s going on in and around Toronto,” said CREA President Andrew Peck. “Elsewhere, sales either remain slow or well below previous heights. All real estate is local, and REALTORS® remain your best source for information about sales and listings where you live or might like to in the future.”
The actual national average price for homes sold in March this year was $548,517, up 8.2 per cent from a year ago.
Excluding Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, the average price was $389,726.
With Toronto’s red hot housing market overshadowing the rest of the country, CREA took the opportunity to warn the government about the impact federal regulations – aimed at cooling Toronto’s market – could have on markets across the country.
“The latest Canadian housing market statistics suggest that the drum-tight housing market balance in Toronto and nearby cities stands in contrast to housing market trends elsewhere in Ontario and other provinces,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist. “Because housing market balance varies by location, federal or provincial policy measures aimed at cooling demand in Toronto risk destabilizing housing markets elsewhere.”
Copyright © 2017 Key Media Pty Ltd