UBC’s high end Somerset project has only 5 out of 18 homes left

Saturday, March 19th, 2005

High-end Somerset selling out


CREDIT: Ian Lindsay, Vancouver Sun Somerset’s University of B.C. location is a big draw, says new home advisor Barbara Manning.

CREDIT: Ian Lindsay, Vancouver Sun Sales representative Barbara Manning checks out progress on the vaulted ceiling in one of the Somerset development units at UBC.

CREDIT: Ian Lindsay, Vancouver Sun The display kitchen at the Somerset gated community at UBC includes an island and commercial appliances such as this Wolf gas stove.

Celebrating 100 years as a business, Ledingham McAllister this year is busy marketing it’s most recent project — 18 homes, each going for more than $1 million, at the University of B.C.

The company was initially a road-building and underground utilities company, beginning in 1905 in a Mount Pleasant backyard when horse-drawn trailers pulled owner George Ledingham’s excavation equipment throughout the city.

The company, working out of a garden shed for an office, built everything from sidewalks and roads to some of the city’s first buildings, including the Hudson Bay Building. At the turn of the century the company was known as Ledingham Construction and is credited with importing the first concrete mixers used for street paving, and designing B.C.’s first ready-mix concrete truck. In the 1960s, the focus switched from underground utilities to above-ground structures in the commercial and industrial fields.

In the early 1970s, the company specialized in shopping centres, office towers and warehouses (their portfolio includes Sears, Costco, Canadian Tire and Home Depot.) The company also underwent a name change to Ledingham McAllister when Ward McAllister joined in 1983.

McAllister, who worked on framing and construction crews throughout high school and university, oversaw a new direction for the company that began in the early 1990s — constructing multi-family residential projects. He joined the company directly after receiving his commerce degree and found his experience in construction has helped him as a developer.

“I love the smell of wood and the creative side of it. I love taking a site and with a team creating a vision for that site,” he said.

He said the UBC project called Somerset is a higher-end project that has particular appeal to empty-nesters who can age in place.

“It appeals to people who would sell their big homes with the big lawns on the west side but still want a big place they can move all their heirlooms into. They want to be able to lock it and leave it and know their homes are secure while they’re away enjoying their holidays,” said McAllister.

The gated community of Somerset is situated at Hawthorn Place, one of UBC’s most recently created neighbourhoods. The homes, ranging in price from $1.2 million to $1.48 million, are all attached with the exception of one detached home, already sold, in the centre of the complex.

“People buy out here because they like the location, the air quality and a lot have children who go to school here. All of the schools nearby are very good,” said sales representative Barbara Manning.

She agreed the project is particularly appealing to empty-nesters who appreciate fine craftsmanship.

She noted the homes have steeply sloped roofs which are a big asset to aid rain run-off in B.C.’s climate and architectural details like large baseboards throughout, wood mouldings, built-in bookcases, nine-foot ceilings and curved doorway entrances.

“Those kinds of things cost more but they do make the home more beautiful and interesting,” said Manning.

All 18 homes feature a vaulted ceiling in the main living room, creating a sense of spaciousness. Since the 18 homes went on the market in early fall all but five have been sold.

The remaining homes also have two master bedrooms, one on the main floor and one upstairs to allow homeowners to “age in place.” There are also two other bedrooms and the basement is half-finished.

“The other half could be turned into more bedrooms,” added Manning.

She said the homes’ designs are flexible owners, and a master on the main is particularly useful for seniors who may have difficulties with stairs.

All of the homes have a legal studio apartment, approximately 350 sq. ft., that Manning believes can fetch as much as $1,500 a month in rent given the location near the university.

She noted Somerset, which is expected to be completed in approximately one year from now, is being built adjacent to the park known as Hawthorne Woods and is right next door to another recent Ledingham McAllister project called Westchester, where units sold for $750,000 to $1 million setting the benchmark for high end multi-home projects in the area.

Manning said homeowners can personalize their own spaces and receive 10 hours of design consultation with interior designer Sandy Varley. Even at this stage of construction, Manning said there is still time for buyers to choose their finishes. The company is offering two colour schemes which are both traditional — a dark walnut or mahogany red theme. The hardwood floors in the family room-kitchen are either Sapele flooring, which is a dark African wood, or Ipe (ironwood), another dark wood this time from Latin America.

Other features include a soaker tub, limestone flooring in the bathroom and a “chef’s kitchen” with granite countertops.

© The Vancouver Sun 2005


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