Kiyoko Fujimura
Buzzbuzzhome Corp.
February 23, 2011

If there was ever an indication that real estate speculation is a bit too rosy in Vancouver– Millennium Water is it. But in this case, it wasn’t developers, it was the city.

So what happened? How did things go so awry? And, mainly, how did costs shoot up so high?
Well, it all started with a dream: to make the Vancouver 2010 Olympics the greenest games of all time. Sounds like a pretty decent idea, right?
Problem is, the Olympic Village they built to house athletes for the Games was going to become a condo complex. And condo buyers, as much as I’m sure they’re down with curbing global warming, don’t want to take on an extra $500/sq. ft. for having the latest in green technology.
Construction costs began at $125 per square foot, but soon the city insisted developers hit a LEED Gold standard. That, coupled with an accelerated schedule as the Games quickly approached, sent costs up to $450/sq. ft. And they didn’t stop there.
According to the Province:

When all the LEED amenities, fees and consulting costs are added in, project costs shot to $1,100 per square foot. Now in receivership, village units are selling at prices as low as $575 per square foot.

But I mean, anyone could have seen it coming. Prices were just too high– especially considering that Millennium Water isn’t even located downtown.
There was an article posted by Bloomberg Businessweek in June 2010 which stated:

An 815-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment is on sale for C$879,000, which works out to $1,078 per square foot, or $12 higher than the average price in Manhattan.

Hmm…let me think. Yeah, I’ll take the New York condo I think. Don’t get me wrong, Vancouver’s a beautiful city, but come on.
Anyway, if you can say one good thing about the Millennium Water project, it’s that they definitely followed through on their initial goal. The project ended up being certified as LEED Platinum (the only other LEED Platinum building is the operations centre at Gulf Islands National Park reserve in Sidney).
Sounds like a real municipal bureaucratic nightmare. Ouch, Vancouverites will be paying this one back for quite some time.
The project has been re-launched, in a partial attempt to shed it’s tarnished legacy, the Village on False Creek [map].

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