bc-091006-olympic-village

Some pre-sale buyers at the Millennium Water condo project in Vancouver say their units don't meet the standards they were promised. ((CBC))

Several pre-sale buyers of condominiums at the city-financed Olympic Athletes' Village site on Vancouver's False Creek don't like their new homes and want to back out of their deals, CBC News has learned.

A lawyer representing 11 buyers said the City of Vancouver — which had to step in to finance the project when the original developer ran out of money — has not delivered on what was promised for the condominium units.

"They've lost faith in the developer," said Bryan Baynham. "They've lost faith in the city.

'This is a great development. It has won lots of prizes and we have lots of confidence.' —City manager Penny Ballem

"Give us our money back and sell them to someone else who wants to live there. My people don't want to live there."

The buyers are unhappy that there's a parking lot where there was supposed to be a park, that washers and dryers have not been installed in their units and that their $5,000 fireplaces are defective, said Baynham.

He said the buyers wonder what else might be wrong.

The alleged deficiencies amount to a breach of contract, said Baynham, and his clients want their deposits back, with interest.

Pre-sale buyers Barbara and Harold Thuringer were asked how they would rate their unit on a scale of one to 10.

"I would say a six," said Barbara.

"Pretty low," said her husband.

The City of Vancouver stepped in to finance the Millennium Water condo project when the Millennium Development Corp. could no longer get financing.

City confident

City manager Penny Ballem said it is not unusual for some buyers in a 737-unit development to want out.

"This is a great development," said Ballem. "It has won lots of prizes and we have lots of confidence."

Baynham said the city owns the land and became the primary lender on the project, but was not included in the original sales contracts.

But the City of Vancouver is not mentioned in the sales agreements which means the contracts are not valid, Baynham said.

In March, the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee handed back to the city the hundreds of units it used to house Olympic athletes.

Of the 737 units, 264 had been purchased as pre-sales, before the development was built. As is typical with all pre-sales in B.C., scale models, artist renderings and pitches from sales agents were all buyers had to go on.

Condominium prices ranged from about $400,000 to $10 million.

The 473 remaining units went on the market in May and 36 have been sold so far, according to Bob Rennie, a Vancouver condominium marketer who the city has hired on a contract for two years to sell the project.

Rennie reflects Ballem's confidence.

"We have buyers going, 'Wow, I love the hardwood floors and the view and the Sub-Zero [fridge],'" said Rennie.

With files from the CBC's Ben Hadaway and Kirk Williams