Executive Hotels building New High End Building – Encore

Friday, January 28th, 2005

Sale points to demand for highrises outside core

Michael McCullough

A unexpectedly successful condominium sale in Burnaby last weekend indicated there’s a demand for high-end highrise living outside the downtown core.

By the end of its first day of marketing the Encore Lifestyles Residences near Lougheed Mall on Saturday, the Executive Group had sold more than 85 per cent of the 170-suite building. Prospective buyers lined up to get into the presentation centre and display suite at the site on North Road.

“I expected a lot of pent-up demand, but I didn’t expect a line-up,” said Executive Group president Salim Sayani. Some of the suites had been sold the previous week in a “VIP” offering to pre-registrants.

The company, which develops housing and owns the 17-hotel Executive Hotels & Resorts chain, is building the 18-storey tower adjacent to its Executive Plaza Hotel, completed in 1998. Similar to hotel-residences built or planned for downtown Vancouver such as the upcoming Shangri-La Hotel, the project offers strata buyers access to the hotel’s amenities, from the pool and tennis courts to maid service, valet parking and in-suite catering. The condo tower itself will also feature a yoga/pilates studio, theatre, fitness facility and strata commercial space.

The units range from 640-square-foot, one-bedroom condos (starting at $169,000) to 1,450-square-foot, ground-level townhouses for $369,000. Larger penthouse suites were also available for up to $700,000.

Sayani estimated investors represented between 35 and 40 per cent of buyers, with the remainder split between young couples and older “empty nesters” planning to occupy the suites themselves.

The developer opted for the luxury format to differentiate the project from the large number of towers going up in the nearby Brentwood area targeted at first-time buyers. The Executive Group had successfully marketed luxury units downtown and near the airport in the past, Sayani added. But there remained the question of whether the format would work in a traditionally blue-collar suburb like Burnaby.

“I think we hit the mark,” Sayani said.

Independent housing analyst Michael Ferreira of Urban Analytics Inc. agreed that Encore is the first luxury tower of its kind outside Vancouver and Richmond, and believes there may be room for similar projects in North Vancouver and even Surrey. But he cautioned against builders and investors rushing to copy the Executive Group’s model.

“I don’t think the market is deep for that kind of thing,” he said.

© The Vancouver Sun 2005

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