Developers are starting to market more than 1,500 residential units along the Evergreen Line route in the lead-up to construction starting on the $1.4 billion SkyTrain extension late next summer.
However, some landowners are content to ride rising real estate values until the line is complete before redeveloping or selling their sites.
Morguard REIT, for example, owns the eight-acre Burquitlam Plaza site near the future Burquitlam Station and has rebuffed offers to sell the site to ambitious developers such as Bosa Properties Inc.
“We know it’s a fantastic site,” Morguard asset manager Bob Nicholson said of Burquitlam Plaza. “I can’t talk our guys back east into moving on it right now. They’re in a wait-and-see mode.”
Bosa senior vice-president Daryl Simpson told BIV, that his company wants to buy Burquitlam Plaza partly because Bosa plans to build 350 condominiums in two towers just north of the plaza on a Bosa-owned site that’s currently home to a Safeway and a gas station.
The project, which will be marketed as early as next summer, will include rebuilding the Safeway to face Clark Road.
But it’s not Bosa’s biggest project along the line.
The Vancouver-based developer plans to build 400 units in two buildings several blocks south of Burquitlam Plaza, on Foster Avenue near North Road.
Simpson said presales for that project’s first building will launch next summer or fall.
He predicts the project will attract the same market excitement as did Mosaic’s October 27 launch of the first of its three buildings on Foster Avenue.
Mostly realtor-investors snapped up that building’s 55 units in a few hours, according to TheKey.com president and marketer Cam Good, who is planning pre-sales for the next two Mosaic buildings.
But in the meantime, Simpson is getting ready to market the 200-home Evergreen tower in February.
That development is in Westwood Village, behind Coquitlam Centre mall and near the future Douglas College Station Evergreen Line terminus.
“We put that project on hold for three years and are bringing it back because we know the Evergreen Line is officially coming.”
Simpson added that Bosa has built and sold hundreds of other homes in three adjacent towers in its Westwood Village project in the past seven years.
The other major developer along the line, Polygon Homes, is marketing the 186-unit Caledon building in the 1,400-home Windsor Gate master-planned community near the Coquitlam town centre neighbourhood.
“We’ve sold about 75 homes in the last 30 days at Caledon, which is the sixth building at Windsor Gate,” Polygon CEO Neil Chrystal told BIV while he was stuck in traffic on the way out to Coquitlam.
He believes that as the Evergreen Line eases access to Coquitlam, the municipality’s property values will rise.
“Property values in Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby have recovered from the 2008 downturn. The outer suburbs have not kept pace,” Chrystal said.
“There are exceptional deals, not only Coquitlam, but also in Surrey and Langley. I think the smart people who are buying in the Coquitlam town centre will be rewarded in due course.”
Not all projects are focused on pre-sales, however.
Magnum Projects Ltd. president George Wong said Springbank Development Corp. aims to sell as few presales as possible at its upscale 79-unit Bloom development next to Burquitlam Park and behind Burquitlam Plaza. Wong recently helped Springbank principal John Ritchie sell 25 units as presales to satisfy bankers.
“He thinks his product sells better when it’s finished, when people can see it and feel the space,” Wong said. “It’s really aimed at an owner-occupier as opposed to the investor community.”
About 70% of Bloom’s units are townhomes that range in size from 1,200 to 1,400 square feet.
Wong said investors prefer smaller units because they’re more affordable and can be rented easier.
“We’re quiet now and low key about things. John Ritchie likes it that way. When the buildings are closer to completion, we will have a more aggressive outreach campaign.”