Wednesday, January 24, 2007


I read a good article by Trevor Boddy at the Gossiping Mavens about the award-winning ROAR-one on W. 10th Ave. I really ought to stop having fun with their name, as I get so much material from them. To give them some credit, there is an air of bearishness with them these days (despite the major faux pas that VHB wrote about today). Some exerpts are below, but the article is worth a read.
It will take some time to assimilate the past year's key shifts in how British Columbians build and live in new housing. One fact is crystal clear: by almost any statistical or financial measure, the peak of the housing boom has passed.
That is bearish. When did they change the tune?
The demand for fee-simple boxes in space has been so hot since the mid-1990s that the condominium apartment started to resemble a generic commodity — an undifferentiated substance like refined zinc or hog bellies, ripe for speculation.

Because condos sold and re-sold so easily through this period, there was little financial encouragement for developers to invest in better design or include features intended for long life, rather than instant curb appeal.

Boddy does go on to say that things have changed, but I don't think they have that much. There are certainly bold moves - like The "W", but I see the sea of green glass downtown as pretty generic.

Don't forget the not-generic McCondo's though. Some changes are not necessarily for the better. The McCondo's look better from the street, but I wouldn't want to live in one.

If I did have to live in a condo, I would pick something like the penthouse at Roar-one. 1961 sq. ft. for $1,400K. There are also 850 sq. ft. studios for ~ $500K. Still way too pricy, but it seems like a different philosophy altogether, with more European ideals (though the developers are Columbian. I wonder if that is coca money washing itself clean in the fresh rains of Point Grey...).

Boddy goes on...

A number of features make the resulting 10-unit building ...appropriate for families, rare because Vancouver's condo industry tends to direct its all-new product at speculators, young couples and retirees.
His closing words -
I hope mayor Sam Sullivan and councillors who support his EcoDensity Initiative take a tour of ROAR soon, as there is hardly a better example in this city of a building that combines design innovation with livable Green features. While there, they should talk to co-designer Oliver Lang, who says that ROAR could not be built with the recently-revised C-2 zoning. “We were one of the last projects built under the old rules,” says the house-proud Mr. Lang. “The revised rules are supposed to temper impact on neighbours, but they will make courtyard buildings all-but-impossible — we should be increasing building heights along arterials, not reducing them.”
I'm all for densification, but let's do it right.

the courtyard at ROAR


Uncertain Buyer said...

Good article. People have lost their heads the last few years. They have been looking at RE as an investment, rather than a home.

Anonymous said...

the condominium apartment started to resemble a generic commodity — an undifferentiated substance like refined zinc or hog bellies

puts words to my thoughts.

bc_cele said...

Please wake me when people wake up and smell the coffee.

Warren said...

In a few years time, I wonder what kind of premium these places will demand (per sf) compared to the generic glass condos, or especially "The Mac".

RentingSucks said...

I've noticed that 3 Bedroom condos seem to demand a huge price Premium over even 2 bedroom condos and they have for a long time even before this most recent boom. Even your example in this article from a square footage perspective it is $500k for about 850 sq ft and $1.4m for about twice that. So why the extra $400K? Couldn't you buy two of the other suites and puch a hole in the wall?

Anyway if you have a family and need 3 bedrooms condos aren't where it's at. It would seem you would almost always be better off making the leap to a SFH. That's assuming that while you're trying to do that they don't gain 20 to 30 percent per year.

Pondering said...

I live in a place with a courtyard at the moment and I have to say it really adds to the feel of the place. It is nice to have an enclosed green space where kids can run around... It almost makes the condo complex have a neighbourhood feel.

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