Quiet Week in the Resale Urban Condo Market

Last week was about as quiet as it gets. Not one new urban condo listing, nor a pending, nor a price change, and just one closing. Wow must of been a holiday week 😉

Urban housing construction downtown and on the waterfront is mostly apartments these days and that is certainly been due to a heavy demand for rental units. The condo market however is also doing quite well and many buyers want to own a piece of Vancouver’s urban scene. The only condo project currently under construction is the 12 story Kirkland Tower. This project is now fully topped out and looks to be on schedule for a late 2020 or early 2021 completion. These are 40 units that are definitely aimed at the top of the market. Units are expected to fetch between one and five million dollars.

The Columbia, Block 20

There are several other residential projects underway in the downtown and waterfront areas. The Columbia project from San Francisco based Jackson Square is slated for some 250 apartment units on Block 20 at the Waterfront. This project is seeing ground work in the form of a garage dig out happening now. Local firm and current manager of the Parkview Apartments at Vancouver Center in tower 1, Holland Partner Group is nearly topped out on the Vancouver Center tower 4. This project  will add another 115 or so units downtown. Another local developer, Cascadia Development Partners has a tower crane operating at the site of their Aria project bringing another 128 units a half block west of Esther Short Park on West 6th street. That structure is rising up now. Our Heroes Place opened the furnished apartments in the ‘Ed Tower’ recently and is nearly complete on the ‘Dolly Tower’ with a total of about 50 units. Al Angelo’s Mill Plain II project was revised to include some residential units but details are sketchy on that, a tower crane is in operation on the site as the base ground work and concrete construction is underway. There are several other smaller projects including some income restricted affordable housing rising up in and around Downtown and Uptown.

Aegis, Phase 1 left, Phase 2 top

There are a few projects proposed that appear to be very near approval. I am genuinely excited about a few of them including Marathon’s Aegis at the Academy. This project will enhance the area around one of our oldest surviving structures and a beautiful example of classic brick architecture. The area where this project is going just north of the Library is currently underutilized parking and in bad shape. This will add some retail and 134 apartment units. The land sale to enable this project is going into the preservation funds for the Academy building. Since Marathon has already submitted a proposal for the second phase, I feel the first phase is nearly ready to break ground.

I would like to see more condo projects proposed. I really feel like condo developers are waiting to see what happens with Kirkland Tower. The problem is that Kirkland is only 40 units and I feel like that project is small enough to succeed regardless and may not be an accurate barometer. What is a more significant measure of Downtown market strength is the success of renting the expensive waterfront apartments in the $3500-$5000 a month range. Residents able to afford that much rent can qualify to buy a condo in the $500-700k range.

Gramor Development, the Waterfront Master Developer, has plans for a 14 story 80 unit condo tower on Block 16. No formal proposal has been submitted yet and I feel that there is a “wait and see” happening. Those 80 units need not be as plush and expensive as the Kirkland units.

Vancouver does not have any many high end units in high-rise projects downtown, I feel that Kirkland will have little trouble selling those 40 units. The short marketing time for units in the high-rise Viewpoint project and the activity at Tidewater Cove east of downtown in a suburban setting is robust with expensive units selling reasonably fast. We have the market we just need a few more developers to jump in.

It would also be nice to see some townhouse style units go in around mid-town or Uptown to bring some middle income earners to the area. Things are going well and the construction activity is booming in the urban core of Vancouver USA.

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