Polygon’s North Vancouver return a come back invitation to young”

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

Barbara Gunn

Artists rendering of the Branches development

VANCOUVER – The Polygon new-home developer has come back to North Vancouver, and its Branches apartment project is giving many folks a chance to get back to their roots – and also establish new ones.

So reports Polygon’s Ralph Archibald, who notes that the company’s North Shore venture – 134 residences housed in two four-storey buildings located just off Lynn Valley Road – marks the first time the 28-year-old builder has inserted residences in North Vancouver in about eight years. The 50 homes in the first building went to market in mid-June, and some 38 have been snapped up, many by people who used to live in North Vancouver, and have decided the time is right to return.

“We’ve done a lot of business with kids who grew up here, moved across the water into a smaller home over in Yaletown or Kits,” says Archibald, Polygon’s senior vice-president of sales and marketing.

“They might have bought a one-bedroom or a one-and-den. And they’ve now said, wow, that was fun for a while, but now I want to get my roots going, I want to establish myself, where do I really want to raise my family to do those things?

“They’re coming back here. We’ve done a lot of deals at Branches that way.”

A week from today, approximately 45 of the 84 two-and three-bedroom apartments in the second Branches building will be offered for sale. (Polygon is also erecting a third building on the Branches site, comprised of 31 rental suites.) As Archibald sees it, it’s not surprising that “a lot of people” expressed interest in the lead-up to next Saturday’s release.

Branches is currently one of just two for-purchase apartment buildings in North Vancouver, and the only one in the immediate Lynn Valley neighbourhood, he says. As well, Archibald adds, the pricing of the homes means many established homeowners now have an opportunity to increase their living space, without digging deeper into their pocket books.

One of those individuals, says Archibald, is herself a Polygon employee.

“She bought a home from us in downtown Yaletown and has outgrown it now,” he says. “She’s a very active person; she’s on her mountain bike, she’s a kayaker, a rock-climber, and she bought a home from us here, a two-bedroom home.

“At the end of the day, she’ll be able to dispose of her smaller unit downtown and move across here for relatively the same money, and get herself some more space . . . That’s exactly who these type of people are.”

The project’s name is a clear nod to its natural setting – Branches is bordered, on one side, by the towering trees in a stretch of protected green space, and is just down the road from Lynn Canyon Park and Mount Seymour Provincial Park – and Polygon has used the metaphor liberally. “Take root on the North Shore” is the mantra of the Branches advertising campaign, and the floor plans are named, not surprisingly, for trees: birch, cedar, dogwood and fir.

Additionally, says Archibald, the Branches moniker speaks to the building’s architectural style, something Polygon calls contemporary Pacific Northwest.

“It’s a wood-framed building and there’s a lot of wood trim on it, especially at the entry,” he says. “We knew what Pacific Northwest was going to feel like – exposed timbers and all those things – so the name kind of flowed from both the architecture and the natural setting.”

The homes’ exteriors will incorporate natural finishes, including brick and timber brackets, but so, too, will the interiors of the Branches’ homes. Kitchens will be fitted with maple cabinets, electric fireplaces with limestone tile inserts, and lobbies with slate flooring.

But it’s the oversized windows that are among the features Archibald seems most eager to showcase. The glazing is expansive, especially in the fourth-floor homes, where the standard nine-foot ceilings rise up to 15 feet in the living and dining areas along with the windows. Those homes proved particularly popular in the initial offering, as did the ground-level residences, which have patio access to large private yards.

Those apartments, says Archibald, have appealed largely to what he calls “move-down buyers,” individuals relocating into an apartment from a townhome or single-family residence.

“In a lot of circumstances, [we] give ground-floor yards to people that rival some single-family homes,” says Archibald. “These are probably some of the largest ground-floor apartment yards that we’ve done, I think.”

Polygon, which has become somewhat recognized for the upscale amenity centres it inserts into its residential projects, will incorporate a relatively small such facility at Branches, one comprised of an exercise area and guest suite.

“The real amenity here is Lynn Valley,” points out Archibald. “It’s the shops and services that are here.”

The Karen Magnussen Recreation Centre, with its wave pool, ice rink and tennis courts, is a short stroll in one direction, and the Lynn Valley Shopping Centre, home to a Save-on Foods, Winners, Zellers and neighbourhood pub, is a quick walk in the other.

Also nearby is the new Lynn Valley Library and Town Centre, where funky shops – including a yoga centre, gift gallery, coffee shop and infant-oriented “Baby Eats” restaurant – surround a 12,000-square-foot public plaza.

It’s a community with much to offer, says Archibald, adding that Polygon is delighted to be returning to North Vancouver.

“It’s great,” he says. “You know, North Van is an area that appeals to a lot of different people . . .

“And as I said before, that is what’s unique about this; it gives the opportunity for a lot of young people who have moved away to come back and to put down roots and re-establish their own roots where they first grew up . . .

“We knew it would be popular, and it’s proven to be that.”

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