In this edition of Buzz Talk we chat with Don Forsgren, the President of Intracorp. Don has been with the company since 1994, and took on the role of President in 2000.
Intracorp lives by the philosophy “Building the Extraordinary” and have certainly lived up their motto with awesome projects that capture the heart of their communities.
We chatted about his driven start in the business, Burnaby’s “Great Street”, the future of Vancouver’s real estate development scene, and the best place to get a killer latte in Vancouver. Turns out it’s our favourite place too!
BuzzBuzzHome: How did you start your career in real estate?
Don Forsgren: I was interested way back as a kid in building and creating things and think that drove me to be interested initially. I attended UBC and did the commerce degree in Real Estate. I was fortunate enough when I graduated to work with Polygon Homes as an Acquisition and Research guy. They are a great firm and a wonderful learning environment.
BBH: Any advice to up and comers looking to get into the biz?
DF: Perhaps because of my background I am a believer that to be successful, you need to know the numbers and have a feel for the market. I would suggest to those new in the biz to view as many communities as possible and understand why they are successful or maybe not so successful. I would also say understand development costs and the financial aspects of what makes developments work, see a lot of projects, ask a lot of questions.
BBH: You’ve been with Intracorp since 1994. What originally attracted you to the company?
DF: Intracorp has been a success since 1977 and its Owner and Founder, Joe Houssain, is a true visionary and extremely successful businessman. I loved the work they did and the culture of the organization. When I wanted to make a move I really targeted them as an exciting place to build a long-term career.
BBH: What is your vision for Intracorp’s future?
DF: We have a great team with depth and tremendous talent. I have a lot of confidence in our ability to continue to bring innovative and successful developments to the market. Our vision is to be a trusted leader in the business. I see more development of transit-oriented communities and finding creative solutions to affordability with innovative product design.
BBH: Are there any exciting projects coming up for Intracorp that you can share with us?
DF: We have quite a few… First is our Silver community in Metrotown, which is a follow up to our MetroPlace tower, which essentially sold 342 homes in a month. Later this year, we plan to offer our 2-tower Cambie and Marine project with 441 condos—this is across from the PCI Marine Gateway development which just sold 415 homes in four hours. This to me has shown the high demand for affordable homes connected to ransit in this city. We have two wonderful buildings in Lower Lonsdale to come this year and we are pushing ahead with a large development in the Oval Village area of Richmond which I am really excited about.
BBH: What can you tell us about Burnaby’s new Great Street?
DF: Our MetroPlace and Silver communities are the first developments on the new Beresford Street in Metrotown. To give credit where it is due, the City of Burnaby had a wonderful vision to create a new street that would be a hub of activity with active street front retail, cafes, wide sidewalks, street furniture, and a significant public art walk. I believe it will be a real people place.
BBH: In a few words, what’s Intracorp’s approach to building new developments?
DF: We live by the phrase “Building the Extraordinary”. To me this meant a lot. We look at each development as a unique child and push to add innovation. We want each of our communities to be special and reflective of the market and community it will become a part of. We don’t build the same building in different locations, which I have known other builders to do.
BBH: What’s unique about Vancouver’s real estate market? How does Intracorp approach it?
DF: This is perhaps the most vibrant and sophisticated multi-family marketing in North America. The land is so constrained and expensive we really need to be creative to keep affordability in check. Obviously, cities and their residents need to appreciate that without density, affordability only gets worse. We try hard to keep prices attainable through great deisng. We also are passionate about creating great buildings and in particular great streetscape connections. We spend a lot of energy on how our building relates to people on the street when they walk by.
BBH: What do you think the future holds for Intracorp?
DF: I believe in the Vancouver real estate market and the long-term health of the market. This is a great city that offers an amazing lifestyle that has become one of the premier destinations for immigration in the Pacific Rim. I really don’t see a lot of downside in the market.
BBH: Favourite neighbourhood in Vancouver?
DF: I love the vibe in Kitsilano. I lived there for many years and think it is quintessential Vancouver with the beach, laid back vibe, and of course coffee and yoga.
BBH: What do you think your favourite neighbourhood will be in 10 years?
DF: Probably Gastown, railtown area. This is where the ‘cool kids’ are starting businesses and being creative. I think that means things down there will get more and more interesting over time.
BBH: What’s better in your opinion – cake or pie?
DF: Cake. Especially if it is chocolate and served with vanilla bean ice cream. Yum!
BBH: Where’s the best place you’ve found coffee in Vancouver?
DF: On almost every block is an honest answer, but 49th parallel on 4th in Kits makes a killer latte.
Thanks for buzzing with us Don!