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Neighbourhood Markets

What’s Happening in Kerrisdale?

By Susan M Boyce2016-04-18

It’s one of Vancouver’s most charming neighbourhoods, a friendly community that many say lingers long in the heart. In the days before Vancouver became a single entity, Kerrisdale was the seat of government for the District of Point Grey – the original City Hall now reinvented as the Kerrisdale Community Centre.

A century later, it’s a neighbourhood in transition – especially with the recent acquisition of the Arbutus rail corridor by the city – and some say that’s none too soon.

“There’s been a development moratorium for nine years – nine years the City would not allow a rental building to be torn down and rebuilt,” says David Goodman, principal of HQ Real Estate Services. “It’s Kafkaesque not to allow an old, tired and inefficient building to be replaced.”

Trouble with Nimbyism

Predictably, not everyone is in favour of changes. “No Ryerson Rezone” signs are springing up on the majority of surrounding single-family lawns, protesting the possibility of a 10- to 12-storey building on land the venerated church recently sold. Graffiti regularly appears on development/rezoning signage. One developer reports receiving a voicemail that was so threatening the police were alerted.

But despite the apparent nimbyism, there’s still an undeniable buzz of excitement and enthusiasm running through the ’hood.

“Kerrisdale is probably the best part of the West Side,” asserts Bill Szeto, president of Oakwyn Marketing. “It’s got terrific walkability, it’s close to parks and some of the city’s best schools, and people love it’s distinctive commercial village centre.”

Demand for Condos

Since the majority of available apartments are rental, real estate agents report that both the resale and presale condominium markets are sizzling. Especially appealing to downsizers, and the increasing number of well-heeled young professionals returning to the neighbourhood where they grew up, are the larger luxury condos springing up along West and East Boulevards or the section of Arbutus street north of 41st Avenue.

Not surprisingly, though, that’s driving price increases. “When we launched Kerrisdale Gardens three years ago, the pro forma pricing was $750 a square foot. Near the end, prices were close to $900 a square foot,” Szeto says, adding most sales were to end-users who aren’t heavily mortgaged or who have sold a large home and are now mortgage free.

Addressing the wish list of this discerning demographic head on, Cressey Development Group has been a leader in defining the new Kerrisdale. Sterling is now under construction on West Boulevard between 48th and 49th Avenues. Lavishly appointed with extensive use of marble and floorplans that start at more than 1,200 square feet, these residences are all about lifestyle, according to Hani Lammam, Cressey’s executive vice-president.

“These buyers are not going to compromise… period. The reason we’ve done so well is that we are catering specifically to what this market segment wants – luxurious, well-appointed, large suites.” Cressey has also purchased the adjacent block and Lamman anticipates that when the McKinnon project comes to market it will also sell out rapidly.

Still, there’s a clear commitment to maintaining Kerrisdale’s unique look and feel. Bogner Development Group recently sold their rezoned and shovel-ready property on East Boulevard to another developer who will be required to preserve the façade of a much-loved, heritage church. In the 6100 block, a development application for a five-storey, mixed-use building also includes restoring the façade of a two-storey commercial building from the middle of last century.

Rebirth of Arbutus Corridor

Kerrisdale’s appeal got yet another boost on March 7, 2016, when a longstanding, often bitter dispute between City and CP Rail came to an end with the announcement that Vancouver will purchase a nine-kilometre section rail between False Creek and Marine Drive for $55 million – a sum representing just over half CP’s original asking price of $100 million. After almost 16 years, Kerrisdale residents, like many others along the route, were finally able to let out a sigh of relief.

“We’ve been lobbying for this for 25 years,” says Terri Clark, co-ordinator of the Kerrisdale BIA. “The board is thrilled to see a proposal that’s actually green and will create an amenity where you’ll be able to walk as well as bike. And if there is a trolley to Granville Island, that will be even better.”

Like Szeto, Clark believes Kerrisdale is one of the nicest places to shop, dine out and enjoy life.

A retired planner often found sipping coffee at Bean Brothers agrees. “I moved up the Valley when I stopped working. I lasted less than a year before I just had to move back. This is home. This will always be where I want to live.”

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 and Real Estate Weekly newspaper.
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