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Landmark on Robson a twin tower development of 237 suites at 1400 Robson Street by ASNA Robson Landmark Holdings

Landmark on Robson makes a statement in its downtown Vancouver location

Michael Bernard
The Vancouver Sun

Landmark on Robson

Project Address: 1400 Robson St., Vancouver

Project Scope: At total of 237 suites in two concrete highrise towers with views of Coal Harbour, the North Shore Mountains, English Bay, Stanley Park and the city skyline. 

Developer: ASNA Robson Landmark Holdings Ltd.

Architects: PDP London and MCM 

Interior Design: Atelier Ikebuchi

Sales Centre: 740 Nicola St., Vancouver

Centre Hours: By appointment only

Sales Phone: 604-566-2288

Website: landmarkonrobson.com

Occupancy: spring 2023

PDP London may be based thousands of kilometres away, but the architecture firm demonstrated a keen understanding of Vancouver when it came to the balconies in the two-towered Landmark on Robson. And it helped that this city provides such spectacular views and scenery, says David Hoggard, the firm’s managing director and partner.

The firm, working with the locally based MCM, came up with a solution to ensure the homes have both shelter from the rain and panoramic views of the city and mountains and beyond, by alternating the positioning of the balconies on each floor, Hoggard said.

”The convenience of being in the city centre usually means a compromise in access to outdoor space,” Hoggard said in an email. “When outdoor space is provided in urban developments, it is often in the form of small balconies that are not ideally useful.”

The designers wanted “usable” balconies large enough to create outdoor living areas that provide an extra room in addition to the living and dining room, he said.

The solution was to create “Sky Terraces”, which alternate the plan shape of the balconies on each floor so part of the balcony has the shelter granted by the balcony to the floor above, but part has the openness of double-height space, he said.

“We also wanted to make the most of the panoramic views from the building so we made the majority of the balconies project from the corners of the towers so they each have 270-degree views over the city and beyond.”

The building site on a stretch of Robson that slopes down to Stanley Park currently is home to the now-closed Empire Landmark Hotel, a 45-storey structure now being dismantled floor by floor to make way for the two new towers — 34 and 32 storeys high — that will be joined by a podium that houses the common amenities. They include including a heated swimming pool and landscaped gardens and lounge area.

The new buildings will feature retail space at ground level with two floors of office space on top of that. Each tower will have a separate entry for residents off Nicola and Broughton streets.     

“In every major city there is one street that makes it famous, says George Wong, whose Magnum Projects is marketing the homes. “In L.A., it’s Rodeo Drive, in New York, it’s Fifth Avenue and in Vancouver, it’s Robson.”

Wong says that in addition to international buyers, he expects to see a number of empty nesters from west-side Vancouver and West Vancouver who are interested in downsizing. “The kids have moved away and they want to move to a condo and they want to see the best in the condo offerings.”

The three-bedroom 1,600-square-foot show suite at the presentation centre on Nicola, accessible by appointment only, reflects the kind of finishing designed to please an expensive palate, said Wong, adding that the Singapore-based Atelier Ikebuchi developed custom designs for each of the suite types in the two buildings.

The walk-through is impressive from the beginning — the double door entry leading from the elevator lobby. The entrance corridor leads to an elegant streamlined kitchen, designed by the Italian design firm Minotti, known for its minimalist approach. The cabinets are faced in horizontal grained wood veneer, topped with square edged stone slabs on both the counters and island.

All of the appliances are by the German manufacturer Gaggenau, and include a gas cooktop, refrigerator, speed microwave oven with warming drawer, dishwasher. Topping off the list in some homes is a floor-to-ceiling Gaggenau wine fridge with dual-temperature control for red and wine wines.

A big wow factor is looking across the dining and living room spaces to the balcony, which presents a photographic depiction of remarkable view that a visitor would see in the finished product. The effect of space is enhanced by the floor-to-ceiling glass with a threshold-less transition to the balcony area.

The entertainment-sized balcony — with a minimum of 183 square feet of space — has a wood ceiling creating a warm exterior space. Light through the expansive glazing is controlled by motorized blinds.

The living areas have indirect lighting built into the cove ceilings. The floors are engineered hardwood with marble used in the bathroom areas. Marble is also used for bathroom flooring, walls, cabinet sides, shower stalls and tub surrounds. Floating vanities are lit by undermount lights. The bidet-style toilets in the master ensuite come equipped with heated seats and all floors are radiant heated. Plumbing fixtures are by Hansgrohe, rated as one of the best in the world with reliability backed by a lifetime warranty.

The suites have heating and air conditioning through the latest mechanical system called CRF or Variable Refrigerate Flow technology.

The common amenities for both towers are as impressive as the show suite. The 18,000-square-foot Club Robson, situated on the podium between the two buildings, features a heated ozone swimming pool with adjoining sunning areas, a fitness and yoga centre, music and tutor rooms, a multi-media room with billiards, lounge and wet bar, a private dining room with catering kitchen and a 9,000-square-foot open-space lounge with gas fireplaces.

The 24-hour concierge and security service is complemented by a network of special services, including dog walking, chauffeured cars, a personal trainer and even a private visit by a makeup artist.

© 2018 Postmedia Network Inc.

Condo for 35 bitcoins? How one Canadian property agent brought cryptos to the real estate market

Condos for bitcoins? One man is determined to make it work

Naomi Powell
The Vancouver Sun

Derryn Shrosbree’s ideal real estate deal involves no agents, no lawyers or other intermediaries. In his mind’s eye, there is just a buyer, a seller and a lot of Bitcoin.

So in February, Shrosbree listed his two-bedroom Mississauga condominium for 35 bitcoins – about CDN$445,000 at the time — on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

Within a week, he got an offer. But to his disappointment, the buyer – who was completely unfamiliar with cryptocurrencies — wanted to pay the old fashioned way, in Canadian dollars.

“The settlement is unfortunately in cash,” said Shrosbree, who has nevertheless arranged to have the payment converted to Bitcoin before he receives it. “As per every new technology and every new thing that comes down the pipe there’s going to be various stages where it’s still a bit clunky.”


Though Shrosbree hasn’t given up – he says he’ll soon list two more properties for Bitcoin — his experience demonstrates some of the current challenges to using cryptocurrencies in real estate transactions.

For one thing, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are wildly volatile. The value of a single Bitcoin sometimes fluctuates by 10 per cent or more within days or even hours, adding significant complexity to a standard property transaction.

To ensure Shrosbree’s listing reflected the value he wanted for his property, for example, his real estate agent Brett Starke had to change the Bitcoin price on MLS every day, with Shrosbree signing off on the moves. A separate condition on the sale was that the bitcoin payment had to be equivalent to the value in Canadian dollars on the day the sale closed.

“It’s very hard for a price denominated in Bitcoin to be sticky for long periods of time,” said Stephen McKeon, a professor of finance at the University of Oregon who studies the intersection of digital currencies and real estate. “It’s very volatile and presumably the cost will be in whatever the native currency is. That’s the number one problem.”

Another obvious problem is finding a buyer comfortable with a Bitcoin arrangement, McKeon adds. Despite all the attention they receive, cryptocurrencies aren’t widely understood or held by mainstream consumers.

And there remain concerns about their use in criminal activities. The Real Estate Council of British Columbia and the Real Estate Council of Ontario have both noted that cryptocurrencies cannot be held in trust and have advised buyers using them to seek legal advice.

In a statement, the B.C. regulator said that while there were many legitimate purposes for cryptocurrencies, there are also “significant risks associated with them, including the risk that the currency may be used to disguise the source of money derived from criminal activities – commonly known as money laundering.”

But for all the fear and hype surrounding Bitcoin, technology experts say the real opportunity for innovation in the real estate industry rests not with digital coins but with the technology that underlies them: blockchains. These decentralized public ledgers verify and record transactions across many computers. Supporters of the technology say they have the potential to make property transactions faster, less expensive and more resistant — though not immune — to fraud.

“Buying a property in Bitcoin is equivalent to buying it in one fiat-backed currency and switching it to another,” said Simone Brunozzi, chief executive of San Francisco-based Fabrica.city, which is developing a software platform for property transactions. “Blockchain is a global registry. When you record a transaction, it’s there forever. It’s a trusted public record.”

The Republic of Georgia, Honduras and the city of South Burlington, Vermont have all either tested or are experimenting with storing transaction records or land titles on a blockchain. And Sweden’s Lantmäteriet, or land registration authority, is months away from testing its first property transaction on a newly developed blockchain system.

While property titles will continue to be held digitally in the Swedish land registry office, transactions will be recorded into digital blocks on the blockchain, said Jörgen Moden, chief solutions architect at ChromaWay AB, the technology firm leading the project. Any information related to the deal cannot be altered without the approval of all parties involved, cutting back the opportunities for fraudulent practices. And though currently it can take several months for a property to change hands in Sweden, the new system could see the timeline reduced to mere hours, Moden said.

“All the signatures are right there and all parties can see them, including the banks, who can then issue loans. We construct a chain of evidence that enables more trust and much faster turnover of property.”

The project has had its challenges. Digital signatures aren’t permitted in land sales in Sweden, though Moden hopes that will change. And while many hope that blockchain could remove all intermediaries from the process, the Swedish experiment suggests there will still be a role for many of the current players in property deals. For instance, a real estate agent will still be present to verify the seller’s possession of the house and her identity when a digital signature is created, he said.

“Ultimately we are trying to cut down on the number of intermediaries but right now the focus is on increasing speed and trust in the system,” he said.

Nevertheless, the ability of blockchains to create transparent, secure records of transaction could prove immediately disruptive, said Brunozzi of Fabrica.city.

“In the U.S., any time you buy a house, you have to get the title insured to make sure there are no outstanding claims against it and that’s a multibillion dollar industry,” he said. “The blockchain creates a trusted public record. So title insurance isn’t as important.”

Though much development still remains, Shrosbree – a former Wall Street derivatives trader now working on an insurance business that accepts bitcoin as payment — believes a seamless transaction between buyer and seller could happen sooner than many think.

The sale of his Mississauga condominium closes in April. He plans to list the next two properties soon.

“We’re hoping the second and third sales will truly be a 100 per cent fiat free transaction where we can start to disintermediate the chain,” he said.

© 2018 Financial Post

B.C. cracking down on suspicious real estate activity


A new tipline is being set up to allow for anonymous complaints about suspicious real estate activities in British Columbia.

Finance Minister Carole James says the tipline launched by the Real Estate Council of British Columbia will help improve consumer protection.

Trained investigators will review each tip.

They will then ensure appropriate action is taken to maintain professional standards.

An independent advisory group created to better protect consumers in the real estate market recommended establishing a tipline, which is in addition to the council’s existing complaints process.

The council is mandated to protect the public and enforce the Real Estate Services Act.

Copyright © 2018 Key Media Pty Ltd

‘Secret’ document reveals government confusion about debt crisis

Andy Blatchford

With a popular measure that shows Canadians’ soaring debt remains in record-breaking territory, the federal government has acknowledged internally there’s no way of knowing whether the burden has climbed too high.

A recently released federal analysis, prepared for Finance Minister Bill Morneau, said the country’s household-debt-to-disposable-income ratio has been steadily rising since 1990, when it was 90 per cent. That translates to 90 cents in debt for every dollar of household disposable income.

On Thursday, the latest figures showed the ratio hit 170.4 per cent in the final three months of 2017, just below its historical peak of 170. 5 per cent the previous quarter. That’s just over $1.70 in debt for every dollar of disposable income.

“While the debt ratio is high historically speaking, there is no way of precisely determining whether the current ratio is too high,” said the memo, which was written last August.

“There is no estimate of the exact ‘optimal’ level of household debt.”

The Finance Department document, labelled “secret,” was obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

Policy-makers keep an eye on the debt ratio, which is one of several ways experts monitor household debt, in their efforts to gauge the severity _ and potential fallout _ of the country’s years-long borrowing binge.

The Bank of Canada, for one, has carefully assessed the economic risks of consumer debt in order to determine how quickly it can raise interest rates without piling on too many debt-servicing costs for over-stretched households. The central bank has called Canadians’ debt burdens an area of top concern.

Still, in response to the stronger national economy, the bank has increased its benchmark rate three times since last summer. When the economy is close to full capacity, the bank hikes its rate to keep inflation from rising above its two per cent ideal target.

Even if it is uncertain where the danger zones begin for the household-debt ratio, the briefing note to Morneau said there are “clear negative consequences” for the economy if the number gets too high or too low.

High household debt can lead to “deeper and more protracted recessions,” while levels too low among those who can afford it could push home-ownership rates down to sub-optimal levels, the memo said.

But the document notes that static calculations about debt fail to account for many other factors that can affect the entire picture, such as policy changes aimed at slowing debt accumulation.

“Ultimately, what drives the sustainability of debt is whether carrying it is affordable and whether the distribution of that debt poses any systemic financial risk,” said the memo, which was partially redacted.

The main theme of the document was to explore likely economic impacts from the Bank of Canada’s current rate-hiking path.

The memo presented two primary ways higher rates will affect the economy _ they will make existing debt loads costlier to service and they will make interest-sensitive spending, like expenditures for cars, housing and business investment, more expensive.

But given expectations the central bank will take a gradual approach to raising the rate, the briefing note said the economy is likely to steadily absorb the increases.

Some analysts said the fact this week’s debt-ratio reading was slightly lower than the previous number could suggest Canada’s debt growth may have turned a corner.

“That should be viewed as a positive development by the (Bank of Canada), though progress on reducing the ‘key vulnerability’ of elevated household debt will likely be very slow,” RBC economist Josh Nye wrote in a research note.

For several years, policy-makers have been introducing new regulations, such as restrictions on mortgage credit, to curb the build-up of household debt.

Earlier this week, Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz also said the federal government’s steps to add to the public debt in recent years has helped slow the rise in debt accumulated by Canadians.

Poloz, who acknowledged household burdens have still managed to reach historic highs, said Ottawa’s spending on programs such as enhanced child benefits and infrastructure have contributed to economic growth. As a consequence, the stimulus has pushed interest rates higher than they would have been without it, he said.

On the household-debt-to-disposable-income ratio, some experts see it as just one number out of many and insist that consideration must be given to the composition of the debt, such as how much of it is high risk.

“It’s masking more than it’s revealing,” Benjamin Tal, CIBC’s deputy chief economist, said of the ratio.

“Therefore, the fact that (Finance officials) are saying, ‘there’s no optimal level, we don’t know if it’s really very high,’ suggests that at least there is some rational thinking when it comes to this ratio, which is very refreshing.”

Copyright © 2018 Key Media Pty Ltd

New anonymous tipline for reporting real estate misconduct

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New anonymous tipline for reporting real estate misconduct2


The Real Estate Council of British Columbia is launching an anonymous tipline to enhance consumer protection in British Columbia’s real estate market.