The 60-storey Shangri-La hotel/condo complex is a hit with buyers

Sunday, March 6th, 2005

Buyers crazy about new tallest building

David Carrigg
Van. Courier

The 60-storey Shangri-La hotel/condo complex is a hit with buyers.

When condo-sales king Bob Rennie accepted a contract to sell almost 300 units in what will be the city’s tallest building, the realtor was sure he could sell at least half by the end of this year.

That was the promise he made to Ian Gillespie and Ben Yeung, the developers behind the 600-foot Shangri-La project, at the corner of Georgia and Thurlow.

Rennie went through a list of potential buyers interested in Shangri-La, added others who missed out during the Yaletown condo frenzy in February, and came up with 1,000 names.

At the beginning of this month, Rennie’s staff sent out letters inviting those on the list to the Shangri-La sales opening day, scheduled for Sept. 23. At the bottom of each letter, he offered potential buyers a chance to meet him and his staff and get an early peek at floor plans for the units.

“We were inundated and everybody who came in wanted to buy. Out of the 227 live-work suites, we have 20 left, and the only reason they weren’t sold is because we needed to keep some for the opening party so I’ve got something to sell,” Rennie said. “It’s the only reason, otherwise they could have been all sold in a day.”

The cheapest suite was $400,000, which bought 595 square feet on the 25th floor, facing east.

The live-work suites occupy floors 16 to 42, atop the Shangri-La Hotel chain’s 120 rooms, while floors 43 to 60 are private units, with ten-foot ceilings.

Rennie said he has sold 20 of the 66 strictly residential units, including one to Jim Pattison, whose company Urban Fare will operate a grocery on the building’s ground floor. The residential units range in price from $1.6 million to $5.5 million, the latter of which buys 3,800 square feet at the peak of the building, facing north, south and west, and a private pool.

“We haven’t gone after that buyer until now, because they really need to spend more time with the architect to discuss finishings and customizing,” said Rennie, adding two of the three penthouse suites have already been sold to local buyers.

In addition to the grocery store, the Shangri-La will include public art managed by the Vancouver Art Gallery, a restaurant and a 6,000-square-foot spa.

As part of the deal with the city to develop such a tall building, Gillespie and Yeung have agreed to spend $3 million restoring the historic Church of Christ, Scientist at 1120 West Georgia St.

Michael Gordon, city planner responsible for tall buildings, said Shangri-La will likely be the city’s tallest building for at least a few years after its completion in 2008.

The next tall building being developed is architect Bing Thom’s 510-foot glass tower behind the Hotel Georgia.

Gordon said six sites remain in Vancouver where city planners will potentially accept a building higher than 400 feet.

Staff are in discussions with developers interested in one of those sites, which is directly across the road from Shangri-La on the 1100-block West Georgia.

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