My Continued Thoughts on the Olympic Village - Interviewed by the Vancouver Courier

The Olympic Village, What Now?


I was recently called by the Vancouver Courier in regards to a blog I wrote a few monthes ago to do with the Olympic Village.  I was asked several questions regarding the past, current and future pricing dilemmas, possible incentives given to buyers who purchase homes in the development in the near future and about the neighbourhood and surrounding areas.

In hopes of not sounding repetitive I will avoid discussing past price points.  In terms of the current pricing, is it priced fairly?  Absolutely not... If the properties were priced at fair market value they would be selling not sitting.

What do I think the prices will do in the near future?  hmmm... well, we know they aren't going up, they aren't selling at the current price points, so if the developer wants to move the units - prices MUST come down.

So why aren't they?  The developer is already facing losses, the city is facing losses, past people who bought into the development are facing losses.  These losses will only be exaggerated with price drops.

So incentives may be offered?  Perhaps Millenium will partner with someone/some business and offer gifts (vacations, cars, etc.) or allocate a spending allowance for buyers who purchase units from the developer in hopes of inticing people to buy properties without cutting prices.

In regards to the neighbourhood... It is a stand alone development right now - many of the grocery stores, shops, and cafes that were to make up, or contribute to, the ambiance of the neighbourhood are missing and stores are standing empty.

I don't have a great solution for the developers of the Olympic Village or the tax payers of Vancouver - I can only hope that someone else does and this miracle solution is implemented and successful so that Millenium Water can leave a positive lasting legacy instead of one associated with debt and loss. 

Article by Cheryl Rossi Below:

Realtor Greg Mitchell says the city should do a better job informing potential Olympic Village condominium buyers about the social housing component if it wants to see sales.

Mitchell has hosted five open houses at a fourth-floor condo on West First Avenue, two of them over the last two weekends.

The most common question he gets from potential buyers is about the location of social housing at the site.

"People are not scared of development. They like it and they're encouraged by it but they have concerns," he said Tuesday.

"The social housing component might be carrying a stigma that [potential buyers] think it's going to be Downtown Eastside moving to False Creek, which is not going to happen."

Mitchell is showing a 715-square-foot condo that was listed at $550,000 in the spring and summer and is now listed at $489,000. The seller paid more for it when she bought it in a presale.

Vision Coun. Geoff Meggs argues the city has been open about the location of the "affordable" market rental and social housing buildings. Two of them rest to the west of the Salt Building and one to its east.

"The city is building a partnership with the province [providing] housing units all over town for people who are homeless and hard to house, including in Dunbar," Meggs said. "And we've never made a distinction about where people are from in that regard."

Meggs suggested realtors should point to the success the city has had over many years integrating citizens of different means. He noted social housing units are mixed with condominiums where he lives in southwest False Creek and on Concord Pacific land across the creek.

"It's quite possible that somebody living at the Shangri-La is living next door to somebody with mental illness," he added.

Meggs also noted the city has yet to choose an operator or operators for the three buildings.

Mayor Gregor Robertson vowed Sept. 30 that the city would find operators and move tenants into the 126 units of "affordable" market rental and 126 units of social housing before winter. The Minister of Housing and Social Development Rich Coleman told the Globe and Mail Sept. 29 that the province had rejected all three bids.

The city also disclosed Sept. 30 that developer Millennium Water is behind on repaying its loan from the city. It paid $192 million rather than the $200 million due by Aug. 31. As of Sept. 20 it was $3 million short.

Millennium Water and Rennie Marketing Systems are expected to announce their revised tactics for sales campaigns and loan repayment tomorrow, Oct. 7.

Of the 737 condominiums to be sold at the Olympic Village, 223 of the sales made in the presale have closed. Thirty-six condominiums have sold since a new marketing campaign launched on May 15.

A softened housing market and the implementation and uncertainty about the future of the HST have hurt sales.

Mitchell and realtor Kelsie Struch say prices will have to come down. Struch notes current price points are similar to the well-established Coal Harbour. Shops in the Olympic Village have yet to open.

Read more:

Blog by Kelsie Struch, Realtor with Century 21 In Town Realty

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