Millennium Water owners frustrated and contented: ‘I wanted to be part of history’ … ‘I couldn’t be happier’ … ‘money well spent’; ‘This home most reminds me of …’
Reports in the media about the Millennium Water sales challenge and the developer’s financing difficulties have been many; reports from the men and women residing in the new community, few.
So, with the help of the organizer of the Millennium Water sales and marketing campaign, the Rennie Marketing folks, we at Westcoast Homes interviewed three Millennium Water owners.
They moved to the former Olympic village from very different places. One traded in a huge house in south Surrey, one moved from halfway around the world, and a third — a Canadian senator — moved from a bachelor suite in Kitsilano.
“Well, if this wasn’t the Olympic village, you wouldn’t even know about [the sales numbers],” says Senator Larry Campbell, sitting in his one-bedroom home. Here, the walls and kitchen are white. A rare bit of colour is contained in an as-yet-to-be-hung painting of Campbell and former Vancouver councillor and Downtown Eastside activist Jim Green.
The project’s developer, Millennium Developments, has had difficulty attracting buyers since the Olympic Games, when the units were home to the athletes. As of Sept. 24, 254 units had been sold — most before the Games — while 483 remained unsold. Another 250 of the units at Millennium Water have been set aside for social housing, but have not been occupied.
But Campbell notes that the development is “a huge endeavour.”
“Imagine a subdivision with 1,000 homes in it. I mean, remember Yaletown was a ghost town. Everything is a ghost town at one point or another.”
Annie Moore is one of Campbell’s new neighbours and a realtor who has a listing in the building. “It’s frustrating for us when we read things in the newspaper that are negative because we love it here,” she says. “It’s a negative feeling, and it makes us feel like what we purchased is a negative thing, even though we don’t feel that way at all.”
Moore is from Vancouver, but she and boyfriend Simon were living in Australia when the chance to live in Millennium Water brought her back home. “Absolutely it did — 150 per cent, it did. How could you say no to this?”
Susan Ewanick, meantime, moved to her seventh-floor, two-bedroom suite from a large house in Surrey.
“I couldn’t be happier in my new home,” she reports. “I tell friends it’s almost like being on vacation.”
Ewanick says she bought a home in the development because she wanted to be a part of a new community. She compared the prices with those in Coal Harbour, thought the investment worthwhile and the Olympic connection “pretty neat.”
Campbell bought into “the story” of the place, as well.
“I bought here because I wanted to be part of history. I have always liked Millennium and I just thought that this was going to be a unique place, and a place where I could stay, that I wouldn’t have to move from. I don’t like moving. I won’t have to move, hopefully, ever again.”
None of these “villagers” have an issue with the costs incurred in making the development a LEED platinum-rated community.
“I don’t think you can ever have too much money spent on sustainability,” says Campbell. “It’s over the life of the project. How long is this building going to be here? It’s expensive, but the environment is an expensive proposition.”
Ewanick calls the sustainable features “an added bonus,” while Moore admits that before moving into Millennium Water, the environment wasn’t really on her radar.
“I didn’t really even think about it,” she says. “To be honest, I barely recycled. But we notice that stuff now. It’s bizarre. Everything gets recycled now. We watch our water to make sure we’re not going forever. This place makes you aware.”
The owners’ appreciation of those ”green” systems is not just theoretical.
“One thing I’m really amazed about is how cool it was in here in the summertime,” says Campbell. The community has a heating and cooling system that uses hot and cold water to manage temperature. “I
actually bought a fan and never put it together. It’s amazing. I face west; it’s sunny, really sunny. But no, it was great.”
Moore, meanwhile, is noticing increasing activity in the neighbourhood. “People are moving into our building all the time. And once the Urban Fare and the London Drugs go in, this place is going to be booming.”
As for Vancouver taxpayers worried about recouping their investment, Campbell notes: “They’re not making any more land like this, and they’re sure as hell not making any more buildings like this. The city has a lot of options. It could stay in for the long run and have a potential huge windfall. They could sell a piece of it off, or they could sell all of it off. There are people who are interested. I think that whatever they want to do in the future, what they’ve done in the past is admirable. It was the right thing to do. In the end it’s going to be financially beneficial to the city, no question about it.
” … I also think people need to recognize that this is a unique circumstance. This is the worst recession we’ve had since the ’30s. We had a financier who bailed. If you wanted a ghost town, you could have had a ghost town. We’re not going to have a ghost town.”
Adds Ewanick, a banker: “Absolutely, it’s money well spent. I look at it as a long-term investment, not only a monetary investment, but a lifestyle investment. If you were wanting to sell the property in three months, this is perhaps not the correct market, but I always intended to live here for a long, long time.”
Campbell concurs. “I didn’t buy this to sell,” he says. “I didn’t buy this to flip. I bought this because this is my home. Do I wonder if this is worth more now than when I bought it, or worth less? I don’t care. In fact, I’ll never care because it’s not going to be my problem. That’s my son’s problem when he inherits it.”
Source: The Vancouver Sun