VANOC wants well-behaved athletes

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

Organizers on the hook if competitors trash their accommodations

Damian Inwood

Full moon or not, VANOC will need athletes to be on their best behaviour in their high-end Olympic accommodations. Photograph by: File photo by Ric Ernst, The Province

VANOC is hoping the U.S. hockey team behaves itself at the Olympic Village. Photograph by: Arlen Redekop, The Province

Vancouver 2010 organizers will have to pay for any damage if disgruntled athletes trash their high-end suites in the $1.2-billion Olympic village.

“If that happened, we’d have to fix them,” said 2010 construction boss Dan Doyle. “I don’t anticipate that will happen, but we’re going to be watching. When you’re put into this quality of a facility, I think you respect it.” The 1,100 units at southeast False Creek, which range in value from about $400,000 to $5 million, have had their luxury kitchen appliances and fixtures encased in eco-friendly wheatboard.

“You see we’ve taken precautions with all the kitchens and boarded them up,” said Doyle. “We have to hand the units back in the condition we got them in. Several of the teams have already been through this facility and everyone has told us these are the best Olympic facilities ever.” The U.S. men’s hockey team got a black eye in Nagano, Japan at the 1998 Olympics, when they trashed dorms in the athletes village. They caused about $3,000 damage after being knocked out in the quarterfinals.

Nejat Sarp, 2010’s village boss, said the kitchen barriers achieve two purposes.

“One, it allows the units to be turned over to the potential owners as quickly as possible,” he said. “Two, it allows wheatboard to be used as their ‘home wall.’ So what we’re saying to the teams is, ‘You can put on your flag, put on your messages, you can do whatever you like and use it for your benefit.'” Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson admitted the luxury highrise buildings are “not your typical athletes village.” He was standing on a spacious, tiled balcony, complete with its own garden, attached to a $3.6-million, 2,175-square-foot suite that will be home to some lucky athletes during the 2010 Olympics.

Robertson said the village, which will be home to 2,800 athletes and officials during the Games, will be “considered the greenest new neighbourhood in North America . . . and the nicest home that any Olympic athlete will ever know.” After that, the city hopes to recoup taxpayers dollars by selling about 730 market condos.

There will also be 120 market rental apartments and 250 units of affordable rental housing.

Robertson said a recent real-estate bounce, which has seen prices in Vancouver rebound upwards by 14 per cent, is encouraging.

He said the city hopes to break even on the development, which it was forced to take over due to financing difficulties facing developer Millennium.

The Olympic Village was originally planned to be completed for $950 million, including the high-priced False Creek land it sits on.

City manager Penny Ballem said last week that the total price-tag is expected to balloon to nearly $1.2 billion in 2013.

Realtor Bob Rennie, who is marketing 737 suites at the Olympic village, said 263 have already been sold. Rennie said that on May 15, the next phase of 200 units will go on the market. Sales are expected to continue until 2013.

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