Half-Sold after Ten Months

leave a comment »


Q.  When does a full-page advertisement become a news item?
A.  When you can read between the lines and spot a disaster.

The latest Westbank round of marketing for Kensington Gardens at 2220 Kingsway leaves some dirty underwear peeking out. That’s embarrassing, not sexy. (A whole new dimension for their #gwerk “philosophy,” perhaps.)

Here’s a grab of the ad that displayed on page 29 of Vancouver Metro on 16 October 2014. Same ad, different shape, on page 4 of Georgia Straight in 16-23 October issue. Test yourself. Can you discover the biggie before reading on below for the spoiler? (Oops. The story is already in the headline for this posting …)


The top line of the advertisement says it all. Just do the math. Kensington Gardens equals three towers and some other stuff. The Final Tower Preview is about to arrive. Gasp!

Pause to recall the nothingness of the South Tower Release Event on 8 February 2014. Nobody showed up.

When did tower two catch up with tower one to get “75% sold”? Who knows? Maybe it happened quietly offshore on a fractionalized basis. Maybe some packager has inked a special agreement that allows Westbank to make a claim of units sold. There will be no transparency. An advertisement can claim just about anything.

So three towers, two of them three-quarters sold, computes overall as a project that is half-sold. Half-sold after almost a year of marketing.

Bob Rennie would be so ashamed. Only, he isn’t the one doing the marketing. See link in the nothingness paragraph above for that story.


Let’s dig a little further into the new Westbank advertisement.

How about those 5 star amenities? That’s what you expect with located-in-Vancouver condos that start at a price point of $250,000. Right? No?

Whatever you may find inside the walls of the fortress, here’s a sample of what you can expect to find outside.

Item — 9 Sept 2014 —  Gooey condom on Dollarama sidewalk opposite 2220 Kingsway

Item — 8 July 2014 —  6 used needles at Westbank’s 2220 Kingsway

Now there’s some 5 star grossness.

If you need to calm your nerves, though, after having bought into Kingsway grittiness, there are at least three (hard to keep exact count) medical marijuana establishments located within a five-minute walk. There’s local shopping in a walkable neighborhood!

Parks and Greenspace

One of the Westbank advertisement’s four graphics bears the caption

        Parks & Greenspace at Your Feet


A vision of Shangri-La that will be found nowhere in East Vancouver. All by itself, this misrepresentation should provide truth-in-advertising grounds to back out of a deal, if there is anyone out there who has been foolish enough to buy a 2220 Kingsway condo sight unseen.

Let two further points wrap up this foolishness.  (1) See what City of Vancouver had to say about Norquay parks at our fourth community workshop on 28 April 2009:  Only average park land, and lacking in facilities.  (2) Despite the priority standing for nearby Brock Park in the Norquay plan, the total sequestration of $3 million CAC from 2220 Kingsway, coupled with dubious traction for our appeals to 2015-2018 capital planning, make it likely that the deteriorated infrastructure will continue to revert to swamp for the indeterminate future.

Misread Demographics

Notice that Westbank uses the word Asian in the advertisement three times.  (1) Prominently in the third line: “world-class Asian grocer”  — Is that what you would call Loblaws-owned T & T?  (2) In amenities listing: “premier Asian restaurant”  (3) In amenities listing: “Asian-inspired park” — A major feature of the SW corner parklet will be underground exhaust air grates.

It does not look as though the Asian buyers desired for this development are stepping forward fast. Perhaps too many of them can smell a pig in a poke?

Beyond this ghetto marketing, Westbank may have failed to tune into Norquay’s shifting demographic. Observations of street life over the past few years tend to confirm Bob Rennie’s anticipation that a hefty chunk of $88 billion of local wealth represented by 113,000 primary dwellings will “help the kids” buy real estate in East Vancouver.

Source:  Bob Rennie — 2012 UDI Speech, Point 22

Compare These Two

It looks like Westbank seriously overpaid for their chunk of East Vancouver land. Back in 2011, the purchase price was reported as $34.088 million for 2.3 acres.

That works out to $14.82 million per acre for Kensington Gardens in the heart of East Vancouver versus $14.73 million per acre for Vancouver House downtown.

Also, time is money. The Vancouver House transaction occurred about three years later. Business in Vancouver selected the Vancouver House land purchase price factoid to lead off a story on skyrocketing residential land prices. Three years later.

Developer Westbank paid $32.4 million, or more than $15 million per acre, for the 2.2-acre site of its new Vancouver House residential tower. … The land costs for Vancouver House, for example, translate into $83,000 for each of the 388 condominiums …

Source:  Frank O’Brien. “Vancouver residential land prices skyrocket in 2014” Business in Vancouver
(22 Sept 2014)

Not a Great Investment

A recent long report on the Vancouver real estate situation contrasts a wealthy investor in high-end single-family properties with a struggling family’s luckless, difficult cash-out on a Fairview condo — bought at $385,000 and sold for $335,000 after “a few years.”

More impressive than the single anecdote is this graph that goes along with the story:


Source:  Iain Marlow / Brent Jang. “Vancouver’s real estate boom: the rising price of ‘heaven’ ” Globe and Mail (10 Oct 2014)

The bottom line for 2220 Kingsway will never be visible. But it sure looks like the glitz of Westbank hubris has shipwrecked on the hard rock of customer savvy in EastVan.


Written by eyeonnorquay

18 October 2014 at 5:36 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s