UDI Awards of Excellence: The Best of New BC Developments

Susan M Boyce
December 1, 2014

Long considered the pinnacle of peer recognition in British Columbia’s real estate development industry, this year marked the 30th anniversary of the Urban Development Institute Pacific Region (UDI) Awards for Excellence. More than 700 industry experts and insiders attended the black-tie gala on November 26, and as always, the sheer depth of talent demonstrated by finalist and winners was breathtaking.

“One only has to travel the world to see why Vancouver is consistently rated one of the most desirable places to live,” said UDI president and CEO Anne McMullin during opening remarks. “These awards recognize the outstanding contributions of developers who help shape our vibrant, livable communities.”

In total, 22 awards were given out — each acknowledging a different aspect of the vision and sophistication that define the BC landscape. Judges were nominated by the UDI Awards Committee and chosen to represent a diverse, well balanced cross-section of disciplines providing different perspectives on development throughout BC.

The numbers reinforced the true strength of BC’s real estate industry. This year saw total entries increase by 25 per cent over 2012 while responses to the Vancouver Sun’s popular Readers’ Choice Award skyrocketed by an astonishing 300 per cent — more than 8,600 people cast their vote, ultimately giving the honour to The Private Residences at the Hotel Georgia by Delta Land Developments.

A Lifetime of Service

An early highlight of the evening was the second induction of four individuals into the UDI Hall of Fame — an award that honours a lifetime of innovation and philanthropy. Joining past recipients were Keith Beedie (Beedie Development Group), Milan Ilich (Progressive Group of Companies), Robert H Lee (Prospero International Realty) and Joe Segal (Kingswood Capital Corporation).

Double Winners

Reliance Properties’ 564 Beatty Street

Taking home gold in two construction categories (Best in Show and Best Heritage), an honour achieved by only four companies this year, was 564 Beatty Street by Reliance Properties.

Envisioned as a “jewel box” addition, this project added four storeys of contemporary glass-and-steel above a vacant, brick heritage building that was rapidly falling into disrepair. The resulting LEED gold structure has revitalized the adjacent SkyTrain plaza and is home to the relocated Chambar Restaurant — little wonder it’s already being decribed as “not urban in-fill but urban up-fill.”

The Private Residences at Hotel Georgia

A saltwater pool and state of the art, geothermal field were among the many features that garnered The Private Residences at the Hotel Georgia its second award for Best Environmental Innovation, in addition to its Readers’ Choice Award. The revamped hotel includes three bars, 156 rooms and suites and restored cornices, moldings and finishes that showcase the hotel’s original heritage.

Ledingham McAllister

Competition this year was so intense in the low-rise residential development category that the judges decided to split it into three, individual awards based on region. The move was good news for Vancover-based Ledingham McAllister who got the nod in two of the new categories.

In Burnaby, LedMac’s four-level Storybrook development captured attention with its meticulous daylighting of a long-forgotten section of Byrne Creek — a commitment that had already garnered the company an environmental award from the City. The painstaking restoration not only created a healthy habitat for fish and other wildlife but introduced a direct cycling/pedestrian connection to the well-used Central Valley Greenway and Edmonds SkyTrain station as well as an inviting, lively outdoor amenity for owners to enjoy.

Further south in White Rock, LedMac’s Saltaire transformed a once contaminated gas station site into a dramatic residence boasting curved, rotunda-style architecture among its many subtle references to the heritage of this popular seaside town.

Rounding out the revamped low-rise category winners was Adera for Sail, an ultra-green UBC residence that’s not only the campus’ first six-storey wood-frame but the first built to REAP Platinum (the university’s site specific Residential Environmental Assessment Program) standards.

Wesgroup Properties

The evening’s final double winner was Wesgroup Properties who took the podium for The Prescott in North Vancouver (Best Mixed Use) and FedEx Freight at PacificLink (Best Industrial).

However, the company was once again officially recognized when Beau Jarvis, senior vice president of development received the prestigious Maureen Enser Future Leader Award, which recognizes a U40 (under the age of 40) member whose leadership and vision have made significant contributions over the past two years.

Other winners included Townline Group of Companies’ Victoria Public Market at the Hudson which won Best Outside the Box by meeting the need for a permanent, indoor public market — a need that had been unfulfilled in Victoria for over half a century — and encouraging people to connect comfortably around food and food preparations. Best Urban Infill went to Rize Alliance’s whimisical Rolston tower in downtown’s emerging Beach neighbourhood.

“Personally I found this project’s most rewarding aspect to be the renovation of the 44 SROs in the Yale Hotel — a social benefit that can’t be measured with spreadsheet proformas and one that goes far beyond architecture and design,” said president Will Lim.

A complete list of winners and finalists in the 2014 UDI Awards of Excellence can be found at udi.bc.ca.

Susan M Boyce
Susan M Boyce is a Vancouver-based freelance writer specializing in real estate and residential development. She has co-authored four books on writing and business and is a regular contributor to REW.ca and Real Estate Weekly newspaper.