Archive for the ‘2220 Kingsway’ Category

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

Compromised Public Spaces

with 2 comments

 

To:  Sadhu Johnston, City Manager
     Gil Kelley, Manager of Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability
     Kent Munro, Assistant Director of Planning, Vancouver Midtown
     Karen Hoese, Acting Assistant Director of Planning, Vancouver Downtown

cc:  Mayor and Council

Re:  Compromised Public Spaces

 

 
We support the City of Vancouver’s desire to create new public spaces in areas of the city that are undergoing rapid redevelopment. We note that current planning processes usually include planning for public spaces in the form of parks and plazas.

However, we are disappointed to see many of these planned public open spaces become severely compromised when development later takes place.

 
2220 Kingsway / Kensington Gardens

We have experienced this compromise in Norquay at Kensington Gardens (2220 Kingsway), where the Norquay Plan called for a single plaza of 6000-8000 sq. ft. The developer was permitted to divide the space into a 4664 sq. ft. grocery store entrance on the northwest corner of the site, and a “park” of 7477 sq. ft. on the southwest corner of the site. Approximately half of the “park” (not the half containing exhaust vents from the underground parking area) now appears to have been clawed back, lowered to a different level, and walled off to function as outdoor seating for a planned restaurant. In return for these two impaired peripheral spaces, the developer gained 12 upper floors (4 extra storeys in each of 3 towers.) The contrast in value is appalling. A 2-storey podium topped by a large semi-private courtyard covers the interior of the site. There is no functional public plaza.

Two current planning initiatives seem to be following this unhappy precedent.

 
Safeway Site at Broadway and Commercial

The Grandview-Woodland Community Plan provides for a generous at-grade public plaza on this site. The developer recently proposed that the plaza be relocated to an alternate space above the Grandview cut. The location would be above the Millenium SkyTrain line and under and beside the Expo SkyTrain line. The proposed new site is markedly inferior, especially with regard to noise, elevation and air pollution. Once again, the same developer proposes a semi-private courtyard at the centre of the Broadway/Commercial Safeway site.

 
Creekside Park in Northeast False Creek

The original 1990 development plan for Creekside Park was for a contiguous east-west park alignment along the waterfront. The most recent proposal is for a north-south alignment of the park, allocating much more of the waterfront to development and much less to the park. The north-south alignment situates a part of the park under the SkyTrain line and next to the new 6-lane Pacific Avenue.

In all of these cases, the developer seeks to appropriate more desirable land that was designated as public open space in community plans, in order to convert that land into semi-private or private space. Public open space is being shifted to undesirable locations.

The reason that some of the most desirable land was originally allocated to public open space was to provide attractive shared gathering spaces for ordinary residents living in denser housing forms like townhouses and apartments. Approval of the proposed land-swaps would create attractive private playgrounds for the wealthy and the elite, while ordinary residents are left with the dregs.

We ask that both the plaza on the Broadway and Commercial Safeway site and Creekside Park in Northeast False Creek be situated in their originally proposed locations. Any parks or plazas that the City of Vancouver wishes to build under or over SkyTrain lines should be in addition to, and not instead of, the designated public open spaces already promised to individual neighbourhoods.

 
Jeanette and Joseph Jones
6 July 2017
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

6 July 2017 at 9:21 pm

Repeat Offender

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Westbank Jet-Engines Again at 2220 Kingsway

 
The following posting includes an update to the Sleepless posting of a week ago.

On Sunday afternoon 5 March 2017 Westbank at 2220 Kingsway once again operates a large jet-engine-noisy propane heater on the twelfth-floor of the east tower that is now under construction. The noise is audible through closed windows from over 400 feet away. There is an ordinary house right across the lane from the disturbance.

 
img_1121-648
 

This abuse occurs only two days after the responsible district building inspector telephoned to say that this kind of outside-allowable-hours construction noise should not occur again. She reported that she had conferred with a “certified professional” for the project. Professional what? Apologist who effects no compliance? It now seems obvious that Westbank has no respect for construction noise regulations, or for the neighborhood that it seeks to extract value from.

 
img_1123-648
 

On a mid-afternoon site inspection to confirm the source of the noise, this stash of about twenty large propane bottles was observed. Is this legitimate storage? Should this quantity of propane be in this location? Could there be a massive explosion? Westbank does not seem to care about that either.
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

5 March 2017 at 3:57 pm

Sleepless

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More Abuse from Westbank at 2220 Kingsway

 
img_1049-648
 
     View of Westbank’s 2220 Kingsway: Looking West along East 30th Avenue
 

On Friday 24 February Eye on Norquay received an email about new overnight construction noise at Westbank’s 2220 Kingsway construction site. Three fourteen-storey towers are being built on top of a podium that covers most of the 2.3 acres. An on-site observation at 9:45 pm, standing in front of the house at 2220 East 30th Avenue, confirmed a continuous, loud, low-pitched noise emanating from the south tower, which now stands at four of fourteen storeys.

 
img_1051-648
 
     Looking East Down East 30th Avenue
 

According to the email, this noise started on the preceding night of 23/24 February. The writer of the email attributes the noise to a large propane heater, and states: “My whole family cannot sleep at all because of this.”

The City of Vancouver’s Noise Control By-Law No. 6555

        http://former.vancouver.ca/bylaws/6555c.PDF

addresses such construction noise in sections 15 and 16 and 17. Section 15 limits continuous sound level to 85 decibels. (On occasions during the daytime, the site emits continuous noise that can be heard three blocks away.) Section 16 limits construction noise to weekdays from 7:30 am to 8:00 pm and 10:00 am to 8:00 pm on Saturday, with quiet for Sunday and holidays. Section 17 provides for relaxations.

 
img_1048-648
 
     The Noisiest Spot: Standing at Curbside of 2220 East 30th
 

This particular noise may exceed the allowed sound level. In any case, the noise is not allowed between 8:00 pm and 7:30 am. It seems unlikely that relaxation has been granted, and if so, this information has not been communicated to adjacent residents.

It would appear that the use of a large noisy propane heater serves only the purpose of reducing construction time. If the temperature is too low to pour, then the developer should wait for acceptable conditions. Speeding up the profits should not justify the continuous overnight impact on local area residents who already are having to put up with an incredible amount of noise, dirt, and traffic to accommodate the construction of these buildings.

The foregoing concern is being forwarded to relevant City of Vancouver authorities by Eye on Norquay. If and when a response is received, it will be appended to this posting.
 

•     •     •     •     •     •     •

 
Update Monday Feb 27 AM

 
Sat 25 Feb AM –
Account of situation posted to Eye on Norquay, together with tweet-out (including @westbankcorp) and four helpful retweets

Sat 25 Feb Evening –
Detailed email of complaint to City of Vancouver Noise By-Law Enforcement with cc to three senior city administrators

Sun 26 Midday –
Affected resident reported end of noise

Mon 27 AM –
Two separate conversations with City of Vancouver staff. Case file established. Confirmation that 2220 Kingsway site had no formal exception to permit emission of continuous loud noise over period extending for 2-3 days. Request that any resumption of this continuous noise during allowed construction hours be checked for permissible decibel level.

The More That Followed

For district building inspector report back of 3 March 2017, followed by repeat offence two days later, see Repeat Offender.
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

25 February 2017 at 11:13 am

Double Whammy

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Last week was a bad week for assault on public realm at Westbank’s 2220 Kingsway construction site. This seems to be what the corporation’s ballyhooed Gesamtkunstwerk approach amounts to in East Vancouver. Sick dada.

 
Murdered Tree

 
A new category of abuse opened up with someone ripping apart the protective fencing around a mature boulevard tree and cutting it down.

 
IMG_9053-648
 

The only evidence that remains is part of the fencing and the stump. This tree, the closest to East 30th Avenue, was part of a row of similar trees that stretch along the east side of the entire block to Kingsway. It seems like two steel barrels were placed to try to make the tree-cutting less obvious to a passerby.

 
IMG_9054-648
 

Tree stump photos were taken on 25 January 2016.

 
Sewer Sidewalk

 
The ongoing dumping of untreated construction wastewater directly into storm drains continued with a pump-out of cementitious water from the excavation that was allowed to flood beside and across the Kingsway sidewalk. The photo below shows the residue left around the sewer grate that occupied the middle of a corner bulge that City of Vancouver had landscaped with grasses.

 
IMG_9080-648
 

The photo below shows the residue that was trapped on the south side of the Kingsway sidewalk as water flowed across to reach the Kingsway street drain.

 
IMG_9081-648
 

These photos were taken on the morning of 27 January 2016.

The experience of trying to report these incidents to City of Vancouver has been disheartening. It appears that Westbank has free rein to disregard any by-law it wants to, with no consequence ever suffered. How could a beholden Vision Vancouver City Council ever allow municipal employees to raise a hand to their master? In so many words — read my lips — inspectors tell you that all they can do is go and beg Westbank to be nice. From what we see so far, Westbank will never be nice.

All the invaded neighborhood can do photograph the welts and scars and publish the documentation.
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

5 February 2016 at 10:40 am

Bypass into 2016

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A bypass of ground water processing at 2220 Kingsway was reported by Eye on Norquay on 8 November 2015. As of 2 January 2016, the City of Vancouver allows such bypassing to continue.

 
As 2015 turns the corner into forgettable past, the following photo essay documents how Westbank’s contractor at 2220 Kingway continues to scoff at City of Vancouver requirements, and to bypass its own equipment for ground water processing. Freezing conditions help to show what is happening.

In addition, Westbank’s contractor leaves a leaky hose to spew water for days. Cheaper than replacing the damaged hose. Apparent motto: Damn the environment. Waste water. Prioritize profits.

 
IMG_9023-648
 
     End Point: Kingsway at Gladstone Storm Sewer Looking Upstream
 

 
IMG_9022-648
 
     Starting Point: Sump Hose Comes out of Excavation at Left of Hydro Pole
 

 
IMG_9025-648
 
     Sump Hose from Excavation to Curbside
 

 
IMG_9026-648
 
     Tangle of Blue Hose Leaks Water through Red Tape Patch
 

 
IMG_9028-648
 
     Downstream from Sump Hose at Curbside
 

 
IMG_9029-648
 
     Curbside toward Kingsway Storm Drain
 

All photos taken 2 January 2016.
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

2 January 2016 at 5:30 pm

Downstream Costs —

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Will the City of Vancouver Charge Westbank?

 
On 8 November 2015 Eye on Norquay took a series of photographs documenting Westbank’s direct dumping of construction site wastewater into the storm sewer system at the corner of Kingsway and Gladstone Street. The fact of unpermitted bypass was later confirmed in conversation with City of Vancouver officials.

Five weeks later, on 13 December 2015, Kingsway is flooding because of a blocked storm sewer:

 
IMG_8934-648
 

At the same time, a single green drain hose leads from the wastewater processing equipment into a nearby sewer opening:

 
IMG_8935-648
 

These two photographs show what the 2220 Kingsway site excavation looks like on the same day:

 
IMG_8937-648
 

 
IMG_8938-648
 

 
One Week Ago

At some point during the past week, Westbank’s contractors eliminated at least the overt evidence of ongoing double bypass. These three hoses were photographed entering the sewer on 5 December 2012.

 
IMG_8928-648
 

The two red hoses appeared to run straight back into the excavation —

 
IMG_8927-648
 

— and the green hose back to the wastewater processing equipment. At a rough calculation, only one-third of the wastewater was being processed.

Here are two questions that a Freedom of Information request well might stonewall as “too private” for a municipal taxpayer ever to know anything about:

How often does Westbank fail to comply with City of Vancouver standards and requirements?

Does the City of Vancouver ever hold Westbank financially responsible for the negative impacts of their activities on public infrastructure?
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

13 December 2015 at 2:36 pm