It’s an area that you might not usually get to, or even see, unless you drive over the Queensborough Bridge on a regular basis. And it’s not a neighbourhood that gets a lot of attention, with busy New Westminster over the river known for much more activity. But the far eastern tip of Lulu Island is undergoing rapid transformation that is positioning the area as a desirable new residential neighbourhood.
Known as Port Royal, this eastern section of Queensborough, overlooked by the stacked streets of New Westminster, is being redeveloped by Aragon into a sizeable masterplanned community with sensational river and distant mountain views. Port Royal already has a 1.7km riverfront walkway, community garden, rose garden and three parks as well as a large chunk of its planned residential projects already completed.
It might seem like a tricky place to get to, with little transit nearby and a heavy reliance on the car for transport. But what makes it attractive to buyers is that it is an easy drive to a number of local schools, it’s mere minutes away from the Queensborough Landing shopping complex and, even though it’s on an island, it’s well connected for both the main highways.
However, the real coup for current and future residents is that a new pedestrian and cycling bridge is planned for completion 2017, connecting the eastern tip of Lulu Island to the centre of New Westminster. This will enable Port Royal residents to very easily access the SkyTrain and other transit services, as well as everything New Westminster has to offer.
Also planned for Port Royal are a new water taxi dock on the south side of the community and a brand new marina on the south-eastern edge.
What’s Already Completed?
Already nearly sold out is Glasshouse Lofts, a 67-unit contemporary waterfront condo project, which has just two penthouses remaining for sale. This is a four-storey low-rise building next to the Fraser River and riverfront walkway, containing one- to four-bedroom loft-style homes. The lofts are characterized by contemporary design and brick wall accents and the penthouses have a balcony facing Port Royal Park as well as a rooftop deck looking south and east over the water.
For those looking for more traditional accommodations, there’s Canoe, a community of 76 homes on quiet neighbourhood streets. These quite charming homes were built last year and are move-in ready, with a number still available for purchase. There’s a wide variety of property types and design styles, with 13 detached homes, seven rowhomes, 27 triplexes and 29 townhomes, ranging from two bedrooms to four-plus-dens, and from 1,251 to 2,141 square feet. The developer’s intention is to attract a diverse group of buyers, from couples and families at various stages of life to downsizing boomers, with some homes geared towards everyday family life and others clearly designed more for glamorous entertaining.
The 2013-built Duo complex consists of two three-storey condo buildings totally 58 units from one-bed to two-plus-dens. The buildings face onto Port Royal Park and are separated by a rose garden.
Next to Glasshouse Lofts, and a slightly older project, Flow is a development of 28 townhomes with roof decks facing south over the Fraser River and along the riverfront walkway.
Further west are Paddlers Landing and Regatta, both low-rise condo and townhome developments on the southern side of the island. Paddlers Landing contains 44 condos and six townhomes, built in 2007, and Regatta was built a year later, comprising 46 condos and five townhomes.
Then there are Red Boat and Marmalade Sky (phase 2 of Red Boat), which make up the main central section of the community. These projects consist of several streets of single-family homes, duplexes and rowhomes, completed between 2006 and 2010. It is already full of families that are enjoying the warm community vibe, quiet streets and parks on each side of the development.
Finally there is also a rental building called Dockyards on the eastern point of the island, ideally situated for the new pedestrian bridge.
It’s certainly unusual for this size of a masterplanned community to be built entirely by one developer, but this has its advantages. Ameet Johal, director of sales and marketingat Aragon, told REW.ca, “Typically communities of this scale have several different builders involved, which can result in diverse property types that may not all work together. Aragon has built each home, building and park in Port Royal over the past 10 years. The result is a picturesque waterfront neighbourhood that is already thriving. And there is something for everyone here, from single-family homes, townhomes, row homes and condos.”
What’s Near Completion or in the Pipe?
Currently being heavily marketed is Portage, Port Royal’s newest condo building, which is very close to completion and in the pre-sale phase. This is a low-rise contemporary brick and cedar building on the south-western side of the community overlooking the Fraser River. Units range from functional one-bedroom suites with 10-foot ceilings to three-bedroom lofts with soaring 20-foot ceilings and roof terraces. REW.ca was given a tour of the show suites and found that, like the Glasshouse Lofts, Portage homes boast cool brick feature walls and thoughtful design details, as well as some stunning roof decks and balconies with great views.
Now beginning construction is an as-yet-unnamed high-rise tower on the eastern tip of Lulu Island, near to the Dockyards rental building and the new pedestrian bridge over the river. This will consist of more than 100 homes and be completed late 2016/early 2017.
Finally there’s Phase 6 on the far south-west of the community, which will be two low-rise buildings for sale and one building for rent, with the completion date still to be determined.
A Vibrant Future
There are about 400 people currently living in Port Royal, with the projected total to be around 700 residents after the next few buildings are complete.
Johal added, “There is something really special about living along a working river like the Fraser. It’s a magnificent place to live for people at any stage of their life. You need to come and see it to fully embrace the uniqueness of Port Royal.”
With the addition of the pedestrian bridge, water taxi and new marina, Port Royal could well turn from a charming but somewhat siloed community into a vibrant and highly sought-after neighbourhood in the space of a few years. And with prices for one-bedroom condos at Portage starting in the high $200,000s, or $467 per square foot, it’s pretty inexpensive right now – but it’s looking like it won’t stay at those kinds of prices for too long. Once that bridge is built, you’re likely looking at a whole different price level…