Olympic village condos to return to market at significant price cuts

The troubled Olympic village will be back on the market Feb. 12, on the one-year anniversary of the 2010 Winter Olympics, with significant price reductions.

Marketing specialist Bob Rennie said Monday in an interview he will begin to market about 150 units in two to three waterfront buildings, including the signature Building 4 on the waterfront that housed the Canadian Olympic team.

In what he said has become a “do-right or die” effort, Rennie believes the village has only one last opportunity to be successfully marketed if it is to escape its vexing image as a troubled neighbourhood.

“The word ‘Olympic’ is a really, really expensive word,” he said. “It is wrought with controversy. It can be seen as a weakness. But it can also be seen as a strength.”

When someone gets into a taxi at the airport and says “take me to the Olympic village” everyone knows where that is, he said. It’s not the same when someone says the name of a residential building downtown.

“That’s the strength in this project,” he said. “It is the only Olympic village. But we have to get this one right.”

Rennie said he’d planned to start publicly discussing prices of the units this week, but they haven’t yet been approved by the court-appointed receiver of the project, Ernst & Young.

However, Rennie said his expectation is that half of the condos, which average 1,000 square feet, “will be under $1 million, and the other 50 per cent will be over $1 million.” He’s set a target of selling 100 units by June. It will take upwards of three years to sell all of the 473 remaining units in the village.

Rennie said he’s proposed selling units in three buildings — the co-joined Buildings 4a and 4b, the adjacent Building 3 and Building 10, on the other side of the village, right behind the community centre. All overlook the water. The receiver will make a decision and issue prices by Jan. 15, he said.

This is the first time Rennie has been able to admit prices will be dropped. Before the receiver being appointed, all he could say is that there would be “incentives” to entice potential buyers. Now he’s hinted the price reductions would be substantial.

“Everything is now on the table. These will be price-competitive to what is out on the market,” he said.

While he wouldn’t talk specific prices, Rennie said that last May he test-marketed units in Building 4 at around $1,400 a square foot. They didn’t move. At a reduction of 25 per cent — a figure being raised speculatively in the real estate industry — the price would be just over $1,000 a square foot or about $1 million per unit.

Some units in the village are priced at upwards of $3.2 million, for which Rennie said he has potential buyers. But he said until the receiver lifts the restriction on sales, none of the units will be put on the market.

Rennie’s plans to market the condos last September went off the rails after the city and the project’s owners, Peter and Shahram Malek of Millennium Development, disagreed over how much prices could be dropped.

Rennie said that by February, more than half the village’s 1,100 units will be occupied, including more than 350 private and city-owned rental units. That will go a long way toward resolving the image of a dead zone in the middle of the city, he said.

Source: The Vancouver Sun

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