British Columbia

Luxury condo tower reborn in downtown Vancouver

CBC News has learned that a high-end condominium project on West Georgia Street in downtown Vancouver that was cancelled in 2008 is back on track.
A computer-generated rendering of the original design shows the condo/hotel tower will be a new feature of the Vancouver skyline. (CBC)

A luxury condominium and hotel project planned for Vancouver’s West Georgia Street and cancelled during the recession is back on track, CBC News has learned.

Construction stopped suddenly in October 2008, leaving a gaping hole behind the hoardings between Thurlow and Bute streets. But buyers who’d bought did get their money back. 

The 60-storey building, originally called the Ritz-Carlton, will now have a new name and a new configuration, but the design that twists 45 degrees from top to bottom will remain the same.

The Holborn Group, which is developing the project, is expected to get a permit by the end of the week that will allow the company to start building again.

But with the passage of time and a tighter economy, the market has dictated changes and although the building will still be on the high end, the building have been tamped down.

"Where the consumer is focusing is, ‘What is the end price and what are the amenities that come with it,’" said Jennifer Podmore Russell of Deloitte Touche.

In this case, less means more.

The number of condos goes from 163 to 290 and hotel rooms increase from 127 to 187.

Lowering the ceiling heights will help squeeze in eight more floors, but increasing the building's overall height by just five metres.

Prices are expected to be in the $1,500-per-square-foot range, down from $2,300 earlier.

Veteran real estate marketer Bob Rennie says even today's luxury buyers are more cautious.

"It's a much more conservative buyer out there," Rennie said. "They want certainty."

Construction is expected to resume by the end of April, with sales tentatively scheduled to begin by the end of the year.


With files from the CBC's Kirk Williams