Simon Briault, Vancouver Sun
With Pacific Spirit Regional Park on the doorstep, the ocean within easy reach and a peaceful community setting nestled in the grounds of a world-class university, it’s no surprise that the biggest draw for homebuyers at UBC is location.
Sure enough, Eric Andreasen, vice-president of marketing and sales at Adera Development Corporation, says it’s the No. 1 reason sales of the company’s new Virtuoso development have been so strong.
“It’s in one of those preferred west side spots that everybody’s looking for,” he said. “People buy here to live in a great place or so they can get a home for their children when they attend school. But it’s also a great investment opportunity. A combination of those things make it really hot property.”
Virtuoso represents the first time Adera has used floor plates made from cross-laminated timber, or CLT. An increasingly popular construction material for multi-family housing, CLT is a large-scale, prefabricated, engineered wood panel that is lightweight but exceptionally strong.
“The CLT we’re using for Virtuoso make it a really ground-breaking development for us,” said Andreasen. “People often think of concrete buildings as being luxurious because they’re so solid. This is substituting a slab of concrete for a slab of mass timber on each of the building’s six floors. It’s just as heavy duty as concrete, but the wood functions better than concrete in pretty much every way.
“It self-insulates, it’s cheaper and it’s more sustainable. We already have a quiet home concept with our projects that are made out of concrete. This will make things even more quiet, especially when it comes to impact noise. Where we can leave it exposed, we’ll be able to provide a really warm look and feel in the building.”
Virtuoso, which will be ready for residents to move in from the end of 2017, will have 106 one-, two- and three-bedroom homes of between 775 and 1,812 square feet, all with outdoor space. Ground-floor residences have large patios and separate entrances, the penthouses feature private rooftop patios and there are balconies on every floor. It’s also the first project that Adera has built at UBC with central air conditioning. Prices are from the mid $700,000 range.
“Virtuoso is our tenth project in this location,” said Andreasen. “In the past, this area was considered to be way out in the boondocks from the rest of the campus and the city of Vancouver. To go shopping or access any kind of amenities, you had to get in your car and drive. Now, everything you need is right there in Wesbrook Village.”
There are more than 25 different shops and services within walking distance of Virtuoso. These include a liquor store, a Menchies Frozen Yoghurt, a huge Save-On-Foods grocery store, BierCraft Restaurant, a branch of RBC Royal Bank, The Hot Box Yoga, Running Room and More Bikes. There’s also a secondary school, a dentist and a doctor’s office in the neighbourhood. And residents of Virtuoso will be within striking distance of Pacific Spirit Park, which offers a network of trails contained in more than 750 hectares of forest.
“Step out of your door and you can walk down to the beach or walk onto campus and when you get home, you have everything you need right there in your community – you’d hardly have to leave,” Andreasen added.
Virtuoso homes are designed by Lisa Hansen of Area 3 Designs and come in a choice of three colour palettes. Bathrooms have porcelain floor tiles, quartz slab countertops, Grohe faucets and Duravit toilets. The kitchens feature cabinetry in contemporary horizontal wood veneer or high-gloss finishes, including soft-close drawers and under-cabinet lighting. There are built-in cooktops and electric wall ovens, Broan range hood fans, quartz slab countertops, porcelain tile backsplashes and European-style Grohe faucets.
Adera is also offering its i.D By Me program, which allows buyers to customize their homes and upgrade the fixtures. At Virtuoso, for example, this would mean a Jenn-Air appliance package in the kitchen as an upgrade from KitchenAid.
Andreasen explained that these levels of luxury are to be expected at an Adera development, but when asked to name the one key thing that makes Virtuoso stand out, he’s back to its winning location.
“UBC has put in a bunch of pedestrian-only streets and linear park spaces in the community,” he said. “Kids are riding their bikes, people are out walking their dogs and there’s a real sense of community. You’re separated from the rest of the city by the Pacific Spirit forest.
“It’s not just an urban community, it’s got this park-like, relaxed feel to it. You almost notice a change of air when you go from that crazy, high-tension world of the city to something like Wesbrook Village that’s totally different. The place has a sophisticated and intelligent feel to it while also being peaceful and serene.”