Pricing, proximity to rapid transit key to the appeal of MC2 condos DAVID HUTCHINSON 778-839-5442 DAVID.HUTCHINSON@CENTURY21.CA
Project location: Cambie and Marine, Vancouver
Project size: 443 homes in 26-storey and 32-storey towers
Residence size: 439 — 971 sq. ft
Price: One-beds from $259,000; two-beds from $421,500 (230 homes under $350,000)
Architect: James K.M. Cheng Architects
Interior design: Trepp Design Inc.
When sales launched at 9 a.m. Saturday for the 443 homes in Intracorp’s MC2 project at Marine and Cambie, the development community throughout the Vancouver area was watching closely.
So notes Don Forsgren, president of Intracorp, which has seen more than 7,500 people register interest in the project over the last eight weeks. This, in spite of reports that the real-estate market has softened somewhat.
“I have been in the local condominiums market for over 20 years, and I have never been involved in a development that has been so closely watched by the industry,” Forsgren says of the project, which drew over 600 real estate agents to a recent realtors’ gathering. “Sales results at MC2 [today] will be very telling to the direction of the condo market. I believe MC2 will set the tone for the market going forward.”
Marketer Bob Rennie, who has been spearheading the project’s sale campaign, believes that up to 60 per cent of the condos will be snapped up by the end of today, while his colleague — Rennie Marketing Systems president Tracie McTavish — thinks that up to 80 per cent will be gone within a week to 10 days.
They are predictions that don’t seem particularly over the top, given that the number of registrants is significantly higher — on a per-day basis — than the number who registered months ago for another project in the immediate neighbourhood: Marine Gateway, which will stand directly south of MC2 and also within a short hop of the Canada Line. In the four months before its launch last March, 11,000 people registered interest in the 415 homes in Marine Gateway. All were bought within four hours on opening day.
“The hardest thing to do today is come out with a positive story on real estate because the armchair speculation is all the other way,” Rennie says. “But the building [will be] already approaching 50 to 60 per cent sold out by the end of the day that first day. That’s our expectation ... This is one that the development industry is watching, based on design and [its] transit-oriented site and all of the [items on the] checklists. We’re not overly confident; we’re just really, really confident, based on fundamentals.”
MC2 — so named for the fact that the project is at Marine and Cambie and will consist of two towers, one 26 storeys, one 32 — will replace an aging two-level retail and apartment complex, long anchored by a Chinese restaurant, as well as four duplexes south of 64th Avenue. It was initially to be called Cambie Place, but when Intracorp turned the marketing of the project over to Rennie Marketing Systems, it also gave Rennie’s team carte blanche to come up with a new moniker.
“They came to us and said: ‘You know what, this is a big one, and we want to make sure it gets hit out of the park,’ ” McTavish recalls. “We felt it [Cambie Place] didn’t have enough cachet.” After two days of intense head-scratching, McTavish came up with the winning name, one based, of course, on Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, E = MC2.
“Bob said: ‘Oh, my God, we’ve got it!’ ” McTavish recalls. “It was like some kind of epiphany.”
The project’s name may be a formula, but its central story is based on fact. The eventual occupants of MC2, a product of noted architect James Cheng and interior design firm Trepp Design, will reside in one- or two-bedroom homes — most with big views — that will be just nine minutes to the airport and 15 to downtown Vancouver, courtesy of the Canada Line.
Transit is chief to MC2, which is also on a city bike path and across the street from a bus exchange, but as Rennie and Forsgren note, so is pricing.
“The city has been talking about affordability,” Rennie says. “Here, there are 230 homes under $350,000. That’s when you really start to look at affordability.”
Forsgren agrees, and says the city should be commended for its role in the development of the project, which will see residents living just a stroll from the many amenities of Marine Gateway, including a Cineplex theatre complex and a T & T grocery store, as well as shops and restaurants.
“MC2 is an example of how good urban planning and city policy can aid in the creation of affordable market housing,” Forsgren says, describing MC2 as “one of the most important developments” on the resume of the long-established home builder. “If the density on this property was less, we could not offer the affordable prices we can today.”
The MC2 homes are being sold with the assistance of two show homes, one with one bedroom, one with two, which demonstrate that details have not been compromised in order to facilitate greater affordability.
Both show suites have large decks, contemporary, open-plan styling, and kitchens fitted with Blomberg appliance packages, Grohe faucets, and cabinets from Italy’s Armony Cucine. Counters in the MC2 homes will be solid Caesarstone, and the backsplash will be full-height marble mosaic.
Bedrooms will be fitted with Armony Cucine built-in wardrobes and motion detector thermostats, while bathrooms will feature Italian porcelain flooring, marble countertops and, again, Armony Cucine cabinets.
MC2, which will feature an as-yet-to-be unveiled public sculpture by Douglas Coupland, will have common amenities that include children’s play spaces, “pocket parks,” a fitness room, putting green, barbecue area and greenhouse. Both towers will have concierge service.
“It’s a great checklist,” says McTavish, providing a tour of the smartly appointed show suites. “You have Grohe, Armony, Chang, Trepp, Coupland, Intracorp.”
It’s a project, believes Intracorp’s Forsgren, that represents a future direction for development in the region.
“Locating communities near transit and creating extraordinary mixed-use environments will be where more people want to live and work,” he says. “We see MC2 as our flagship for this strategic direction.”
As to what happens today? McTavish, who believes that at as many as 2,000 of the MC2 registrants are individuals who had been hoping to buy at Marine Gateway, says the team is anticipating a lineup “just because of the sheer volume on the database.”
Rennie believes those numbers also say something else.
“[We’ve been] tracking about 1,000 people a week registering,” he says. “It doesn’t mean they all want to buy here. But it does say to me that there’s a pent-up demand of people sitting on the sidelines who want to come off the sidelines.”