White Elephant

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What Is a Kensington Gardens Condo Really Worth?

 
Eye on Norquay has been monitoring 2220 Kingsway ever since news trickled out in September 2011 that Westbank paid $34,088,000 for the 2.3 acre site.

Westbank chose to ride roughshod over the Norquay Plan by plopping a podium over the entire site. Their approach disrespected the clear intent for a public plaza at the heart of the site. City of Vancouver staff lined up with Westbank wishes, since their political masters had been prepurchased with massive donations.

 

 
    White Elephant?   Retro Soviet Block?
 

Note: The Urban Design Panel chose to ignore a planner question about how adequate the proposed tower separation would be. Eye on Norquay witnessed in person the meeting where this neglect occurred.

As the project approaches completion, a few other points deserve scrutiny.

 
Focus on Flip Marketing Brings Unusual Legal Threat

On 23 October 2017 thinkpol.ca posted a documented story about Westbank preselling to flippers almost one quarter of the condos at 2220 Kingsway / Kensington Gardens.

Amy Chen. Westbank pre-sold nearly 1 in 4 Kensington Garden condos — heavily marketed
overseas — to flippers

https://thinkpol.ca/2017/10/23/westbank-pre-sold-nearly-1-in-4-kensington-garden-condos-heavily-marketed-overseas-to-flippers/

The report relied on “industry insider” provision of 55 Multiple Listing Service entries and a further “38 listings of units that are currently on sale on assignments.” A chart provides a “complete list of pre-sale purchasers [93] gleaned from MLS data.”

A few weeks later, on 15 November 2017, thinkpol.ca reported that a lawyer acting for the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) had threatened their news outlet with legal action because of the reporting on Westbank’s Kensington Gardens project at 2220 Kingsway.

Vancouver real estate board threatens ThinkPol with lawsuit to protect foreign buyer privacy
https://thinkpol.ca/2017/11/15/vancouver-real-estate-board-threatens-thinkpol-with-lawsuit-to-protect-foreign-buyer-privacy/

In June 2017 realtor Steve Saretsky had already called attention to the flood of assignments rising at 2220 Kingsway. Saretsky’s account reproduced a 3 February 2015 Westbank Facebook advertisement for a “Hong Kong Exhibition” that stated:

        As one of Vancouver’s premier landmark residential developments, buyers at Kensington Gardens
        benefit from an 8% rental return. Making Kensington Gardens the best real estate investment
        in North America.

As far as Westbank is concerned, the value in this “premier landmark” condo cluster seems to be some vague opportunity for 8% return as a rental unit. In other words, their marketing fail on Kensington Gardens seems to have condemned the whole project to open as a higher-end tenement, with renters predominating among first inhabitants. Owner-occupiers seem likely to prefer a different address.

As of late December 2017, the lawyer’s intimidation bluster seems to have failed, serving only to direct even more attention to the nasty situation at Kensington Gardens.

 
Look at This Documented Marketing Timeline

February 2014  —  Eye on Norquay describes a strange marketing strategy for Kensington Gardens condos.

In Between  —  The most desirable West Tower never shows up in marketing to Vancouver locals.

October 2014  —  Ten months later, a reading between the lines shows the project still only half-sold.

October 2014  —  The East Tower shows up as final tower release event.

February 2015  —  A “Hong Kong Exhibition” tries to unload units offshore as rental properties.

May 2015  —  Still unsold units get postcard marketing to locals as “Vancouver View Estates.”

Ongoing  —  High level of attempts to sell assigned units.

 
What Is Going On Here?

Further to the introductory point — that Westbank and REBGV seem extraordinarily unhappy about the recent thinkpol.ca exposé of their marketing strategy — consider these additional points:

One  —  Only a relatively ignorant buyer would fail to understand what a poor match the faux-fancy fortress of Kensington Gardens is for the area that surrounds it. Norquay is nowheresville in the heart of East Vancouver, sliced through the middle by the six-lane truck route of Kingsway. The cornerstone for this new development was laid when city planners back in 2010 forced their mass rezoning onto a large swath of an amenity-deficient East Vancouver neighborhood filled with lower-income, immigrant, working-class people — an area selected because they regarded it as a de facto “brownfield.”

Two  —  In the fall of 2017 Westbank went on a branding spree, waving a hot pink banner about “Fight for Beauty.” Guess what? Nowhere does Kensington Gardens feature among the projects that the developer boosts as a signature development. Kensington Gardens compares with a knockoff Rolex watch.

Three  —  Throughout 2017, advertised pre-completion prices for 2220 Kingsway condos jumped all over the speculative map, ranging from $747 per sq ft for unit 527 to $1400 per sq ft for unit NE PH 1. See table at the end, and especially notice the startling upward trajectory of unit 529 — from $385,000 in April, to $425,000 in June, to $468,000 in August. And never forget: in September 2011 land cost was reported as $107 per buildable sq ft.

Four  —  How many speculators or purchasers understand that just to the north of Kensington Gardens, right smack dab between their site and the north shore mountains, will soon be arising a six-storey building along a 231-foot Kingsway frontage, to provide 101 rental units? This new no-ownership building at 2153-2199 Kingsway was approved by Council at Public Hearing on 16 May 2017. Some upper floors of Kensington Gardens may still manage to peek over this adjacent battleship … but never the other two towers of Kensington Gardens itself. All of the new residents (if there are any) will get to enjoy years of the same truck traffic, dirt, and noise that their own building has already inflicted on existing residents of the neighborhood.

Five  —  The Westbank tradition in East Vancouver continues with “The Joyce,” whose marketing has attracted similar unfavorable reporting:

Jen St. Denis. $725,000 for one-bedroom condo at Joyce Station raises red flags (22 June 2017)
http://www.metronews.ca/news/vancouver/2017/06/22/725000-for-one-bedroom-condo-at-humble-joyce-station.html

At this Joyce SkyTrain station project, unwary and naive purchasers are signing up for headaches that include

  Location on a two-lane truck route heavily used to avoid the Boundary Road hill
  Regular loud SkyTrain system noise that gets worse with aging
  New zoning that specifies two view-blocking high-rise towers across Joyce to the west
 



 
 
87 Distinct Address Listings for 2220 Kingsway
as Observed in Vancouver Local Real Estate Sources in 2017

 
         The listing below aggregates data from four previous separate listings from Eye on Norquay
           which are tagged as Price Data.
         An asterisk (*) marks an entry where Sq Ft data has been revised on the sole basis of inconsistency.
         In a few instances, for the same Unit number, where Ask Price and Sq Ft diverge widely, entries
           have been separated.
         Units with Month specified as “Other” have been noted as on the market without further data capture.


Unit           Ask Price      Sq Ft       Month 


102             $899,000       1023       April
102             $899,000       1023       June
102             $899,000       1023       August
102             $899,000       1023       November

103             $988,000       1018       November

310             $683,000        777 *     April
310             $738,000        777       June
310             $738,000        777       August
310             $738,000        777       November

315                                       Other

317             $425,000        512       April

320                                       Other

322             $430,000        534       April

501                                       Other

503                                       Other

508             $384,900        504       June

511             $768,000        894       August
511             $768,000        894       November

517             $510,000        512       August

518             $430,860        529       April
518             $430,860        529       June
518             $495,000        529       August
518             $495,000        529       November

519             $360,000        441       April
519             $360,000        441       June

520                                       Other

527             $435,000        582       April
527             $435,000        582       June

528             $488,888        503       November

529             $385,000        447       April
529             $425,000        447       June
529             $468,000        447       August

530                                       Other

531                                       Other

602             $699,000        890       April

603             $380,000        463       April
603             $395,000        463       June

605             $399,000        506       April
605             $480,000        506       August

606             $399,000        506       April
606             $399,000        506       June

608                                       Other

609             $790,000        894       June
609             $790,000        894       August
609             $790,000        894       November

610                                       Other

617                                       Other

701             $693,900        849       April

708                                       Other

803                                       Other

808             $660,000        790       June

810             $628,800        717       June

903                                       Other

905                                       Other

906             $525,000        506       June

906             $954,000       1072       August
906             $954,000       1072       November

908                                       Other

1002            $748,000        738 *     June
1002            $748,000        738 *     November

1102            $748,000        738       August
1102            $768,000        738 *     November

1106            $535,000        506       August
1106            $535,000        506 *     November

1010                                      Other

1012            $798,000        812       April
1012            $798,000        812       June
1012            $768,000        812       August
1012            $768,000        812       November

1102                                      Other

1105                                      Other

1106                                      Other

1108                                      Other

1110                                      Other

1201                                      Other

1203            $438,000        484       April
1203            $438,000        484       June

1206          $1,068,888       1060       April
1206          $1,068,888       1060       June
1206          $1,068,888       1060       August
1206          $1,068,888       1060       November

1209            $748,000        879       June
1209            $748,000        879       August

1211            $788,000        717       November

1502                                      Other

1503                                      Other

1507            $468,800        516       April

1508                                      Other

1510            $699,000        777       June

1605          $1,088,800        980       August
1605          $1,088,800        980       November

1606          $1,068,888       1060       April
1606          $1,088,888       1060       June
1606          $1,088,888       1060       August

1610            $719,900        879       April

1701                                      Other

1702                                      Other

1703            $968,888       1020       April

1703            $515,000        496       November

1706          $1,118,000       1060       June
1706          $1,118,900       1060       August
[1706]?       $1,089,000       1060       November

1708            $788,000        720       August
1708            $788,000        720       November

1805 PH 5       $949,999        784       August
1805 PH 5       $949,999        784       November

NE 315          $738,900        790       November

NE 626          $419,800        441       November

NE 702                                    Other

NE 811          $726,000        812       November

NE 1103         $478,000        496       August
NE 1103         $478,000        496       November

NE 1502         $830,000        896       November

NE 1611         $708,000        717       November

NE PH 1       $1,150,000        821       June
NE PH 1       $1,150,000        821       August
NE PH 1       $1,098,000        821       August
NE PH 1       $1,098,000        821       November

NE PH 6         $884,900        807       November

P 307           $489,800        476       November

S 1008          $948,000        992       November

S 1103          $433,000        484       April

S 1202          $698,000        738       April
S 1202          $698,000        738       June

S 1501          $786,000        849       April
S 1501          $745,000        849       June
S 1501          $745,800        849       August

W 305                                     Other

W 605           $469,800        510       November

W 1505          $999,000        980       November

W 1510          $739,900        777       April
W 1510          $725,000        777       June
W 1510          $699,000        777       August
W 1510          $699,000        777       November

W PH 1          $828,000        755 *     August
W PH 1          $828,000        755       November

 
 

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Written by eyeonnorquay

1 January 2018 at 10:23 am

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