BuzzBuzzHome Corp.
August 3, 2011

Today we had the pleasure of speaking with Kyra Lubell, the Director of Community Relations at one of Vancouver’s most interesting community spaces, The River District Centre.The Centre is part of Parklane Homes‘ huge 130 acre waterfront community project, known as the River District, which will include everything from town homes to towers and a diverse array of shopping, dining and amenities. It’s especially unique because Parklane built the community space before beginning any other construction. They wanted to introduce the wider community and potential purchasers to the planned “complete community” and really give everyone a sense of what the massive new community would be all about.Kyra has a planning and communications background coupled with a Master’s in Urban Planning. Read on to learn about Parklane’s unique project and Kyra’s thoughts on the direction that the Vancouver residential market will take in the coming years.Enjoy!

BuzzBuzzHome: How did you get started in the industry?

Kyra Lubell: I got an undergraduate degree in geography because of my interest in cities and the environment. After that I dabbled in fashion, film and marketing and I wound up volunteering in a kindergarten class room. From there I decided to pursue a teaching degree and unfortunately when I graduated there weren’t any jobs available for teachers.

At this point I was lucky enough to get a job with the City of Vancouver in their planning department. While working there I ended up taking various marketing courses and when I moved back to Vancouver after getting my Master’s of Urban Planning at U of T, I was looking for a real estate role that had a communication component to it. That’s exactly what my current job is — it gives me the best of both worlds.BBH: What’s a typical day at work like for you?KL: No two days are ever the same for me. My days can include meetings with different organizations about bringing their programs and events to our River District Centre, managing the River District team, enhancing communications and overseeing operations at the River District Centre.

I also interact with the public by answering any project related questions and on occasion I get to play X Box Kinect with the visitors or perhaps even read a kid a story. There’s definitely a range of things I get to do here.BBH: For those unfamiliar with the project, can you describe what it’s all about in a nutshell?KL: Sure! The River District project is a 130 acre site in Southeast Vancouver. Parklane purchased the land in 2003 and has been working closely with the city, the community, reputable planners, architects and engineers to create a master plan.The project’s won awards for its community engagement and master plan. The project vision revolves around creating a complete community where people can walk their kids to school, cycle the trails and dine at local restaurants. It includes townhomes, low to mid-rise apartments and towers that are all within walking distance from plazas, cafes, promenades, shops and various services.

Parklane built the River District Centre before any sales were even launched. It’s a very innovative space that’s open to anyone to come in and visit. At the Centre, we bring plans to life through various visual materials, interactive exhibits and a very large state of the art model. The Centre also functions as a place where people can hang out, make friends, unwind or develop new skills through our programs and special events.


BBH: What’s the relationship between Parklane and Polygon Homes?

Well, there’s the River District project, which is the 130 acres of land that Parklane owns and then there’s the River District Centre that’s open now. The public can come in and see what Parklane has built and preview the community before the rest of the project comes on board.

There’s no sales happening at the Centre. The sales are up to our partner Polygon Homes. They have a sales centre across the street. If people are interesting in purchasing, they can go over to Polygon to learn about pricing and floor plans. Then they can come over to us and learn about the community they’re potentially buying into.

BBH: The River District has been called one of the most significant community developments in Vancouver. Why do you think that is?

KL: For a few reasons. It’s on the last develop-able plot of waterfront land in Vancouver. Here there’s a great opportunity to build a community for Vancouverites with amazing waterfront views.

It’s also going to be a complete community in the sense that everything someone would want in a community will be located here. It will also be very walkable, everything is going to be close by. You won’t need to get into your car to drive. There are a lot of walkways created for pedestrians.

Another reason is Parklane has created a “songbird” strategy which no other developer has done. What this means is that Parklane has considered creating space and habitat for songbirds and other wildlife as well throughout the project.

It’s also a very sustainable project. It will have an environmentally friendly community energy system that will provide space heating and hot water to all new buildings. It will have a rainwater management plan. Rainwater will be collected and cleansed on-site.

BBH: How do you see Vancouver evolving, especially from a residential and community oriented point of view, over the next few years?

KL: I would say, just generally, I see a shift in where older generations want to live. My parents have a house that’s large enough for a family, but they don’t have a family living there anymore. I know that they’re looking to downsize. I know that they’re interested in living in a community like River District. I know their friends are thinking this way as well.

They don’t want to care for lawns. They just don’t need those hassles and inconveniences anymore. They want an easy place to live in. I think something like transit will be on their minds more because they might not be able to drive once they reach a certain age. They’ll want to be able to walk places so they’ll want things close by.

I think we’ll be seeing a lot more older generations moving into condos and apartments for convenience sake.

BBH: What do you enjoy most about living in Vancouver?

KL: Where do I start? I love the sushi, the mountains, the beaches, just all the greenery and the active lifestyles that the city offers. Where else can you snowboard in the morning and sit on the beach in the afternoon? There’s really no other place like it. It’s so gorgeous out here.

BBH: You mentioned that you lived in Toronto for awhile studying at U of T. Is there one thing that you really liked about Toronto that you wished Vancouver had?

KL: I think Toronto offers a lot more in terms of diversity. There’s a lot more restaurants and different neighbourhoods to explore. There’s more public events and opportunities to socialize with other people. Caribana and Luminato… there’s just more festivals that are about engaging Torontonians. I think Vancouver could definitely take a page out of that book and do more things like that.

BBH: Are you a Canucks fan or a Lions fan?

KL: Definitely a Canucks fan over the Lions. Not at the risk of another riot though, that was pretty bad.

BBH: What was the last great movie you saw?

KL: I’ve been very busy planning my wedding. So I just got married and haven’t had a chance to watch many movies lately.

Thanks for taking the time to buzz with us Kyra! Check out more photos of the River District Centre below…

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