Builder proud that partnership produced affordable rent in Downtown Eastside

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Malcolm Parry

Downtown ‘microloft’ tenants get a break on rent, but it cost Peter rezansoff’s ITC Construction Group $500,000 to provide it.

BETTER RENTS: ITC Construction Group president/ CEO Peter Rezansoff, 70, is pleased that rents will be an accessible $675 for the 270-square-foot “microlofts” in the Downtown Eastside’s Burns Block redevelopment. The rate was made feasible by ITC and John Stovell’s Reliance Properties subsidizing the abandoned five-floor heritage building’s revival to the tune of $1 million.

Their social-entrepreneur partnership also saw trades and suppliers participate. “We have to do something,” Rezansoff said regarding homeless-ness and unaffordable housing. “Why don’t we band together now the market is low and create something? Anything that is done in housing is a step in the right direction. “But,” regarding his and Stovell’s participation, “to achieve that, there has to be financial support.”

As for that low market, Rezansoff figures ITC may trim 40 per cent from its average annual turnover of $500,000 this year. One bright light, after completing its $260-million part in the Olympic athletes’ village, is Reliance’s $100-million tower and low-rise development at 1400 West Pender St., where ITC has now built 28 of 30 floors.

Along with Vancouver architects, engineers, other builders and sub-contractors, ITC developed rapid highrise construction techniques with cranes that grew from 2,000-to 10,000-pound capacity. He’s amused when developers in Portland and Calgary say casting floors every four or five days “cannot be done.”

He’s done plenty — 15 in Coal Harbour and a forest around False Creek-Yaletown for Polygon, Qualex-Landmark and Wall Financial, not to mention being “the go-to people when Concord [Pacific] was too busy to do its own.” ITC also built the Granville-at-Dunsmuir Hudson for Rob Macdonald and Peter Wall.

Rezansoff relishes ITC’s seven-year rating (by Deloitte, CIBC, National Post and Queen’s School of Business) as one of Canada’s 50 best-managed companies. That was a dream in 1983, when his and Anton McGill’s new, 12-employee Intertech Construction contracted to build the Richard Henriquez-designed Sylvia Hotel tower for owner-developer Norm Sawyer.

Progressive business record aside, Rezansoff has some old-fashioned ways. Born into a five-sibling Doukhobor family in Nelson, he literally lives above the store. He and wife Elsie, who’ll celebrate their 50th anniversary Friday, occupy what was to have been a restaurant in the Howe-at-Pacific Discovery development ITC built in 1989. His commute is 10 seconds along a tiled terrace. More ITC departments occupy the floor below.

As for roots, pacifist Rezansoff is involved in a $200,000 fundraising for Selkirk College’s Mir Centre For Peace at the Kootenay and Columbia River confluence. At Yasnaya

BY Malco

Polyana in Russia, he and late Kootenays bakery-chain owner Alix Jmaeff funded a bakery-cafe to give the Leo Tolstoy museum a reliable income. The act was a partial payback for revenues from the author’s The Resurrection aiding emigrating Doukhobors.

“You need a little ongoing business to create some returns,” Rezansoff told museum operators, “so you don’t have to want for handouts.”

Others in the development-construction industry might heed that for our Downtown Eastside.

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