Archive for the ‘Real Estate’ Category

Warner production takes over my street

It’s a little self-indulgent, but then, the filming of the CW show, Life Unexpected, is literally across the street from my place; I don’t know if a post about it is indulgent or unavoidable.

The people across the way basically got their house overhauled, on the outside at least, all on Warner’s dime – the only cost to them is having to go stay at a hotel every once and awhile.

Click to upsizen

Click to upsizen

The crew was still setting up in the morning before this photo, and as I left for work I passed by the location manager, who I’d spoken to before, during the early days of prepping the property – she gave a friendly smile and hello, but I’m pretty sure all she got back was a cold, blank, bleary-eyed, half-awake stare. Poor thing.

Anybody else getting a lot of production in their neighbourhood? I wonder what will happen when the Olympics butt heads with Hollywood.

Pimp my house

Photo by entheos_fog

Photo by entheos_fog

Vancouverites, you’ll have to help me out with this – this isn’t a phenomenon I saw much of growing up across Canada. Like, maybe once. Now it’s everywhere. People jacking up houses, entirely renovating the old structure into something new, and usually something with a basement suite to rent out.

I think the first one I saw was around 5 years ago on Elgin street and it kind of blew my mind. They weren’t just adding a new basement foundation, they were creating a whole new ground floor – and that’s a considerable amount of lifting, compared to propping up a house, maybe jacking it a couple of extra feet to allow bigger basement windows. It wasn’t until I saw the final result that I saw the point was to create one suite upstairs, and another suite downstairs that is almost as attractive as the upstairs as it is more a walk-in suite than a basement suite.

Now I’m seeing this everywhere. Is it zoning, as in it’s harder to get a new design approved for areas, but a literal gutting of a house, while retaining the original shape is ok? Or is it a cost thing? Is it cheaper to retain the frame of a house, than to tear it all down and start from scratch? Or a combo of the two?

I will have to look into this more, but I have to share this picture of what it my favourite reno job to date, happening on my street;

Photo by castewar

Photo by castewar


The house is almost done now, but imagine with me; take the right side of the building, as you see it. That’s the original house – the left is a mirror image of the right that didn’t originally exist. Instead it was some asymmetrical, narrower portion of the house. This whole house was jacked up, the ugly left cut off, a new basement poured, and then the right was mirrored, leaving a duplex with a basement suite. It is ingenious.

Anybody else seen any good renos in Vancouver lately?

Hey, if you’re digging one big hole, why not two?

Remember last year, when the power substation blew up, leaving a large chunk of the downtown core without power for days and a few parts for nearly a week? Then refresh your memory. With that in mind, you’ll be happy to note that the addition of a third transformer (presumably to help avoid future problems), which wasn’t due to be completed until June of this year, is done.

And now, the BC Transmission Corporation is looking to upgrade the central Vancouver area in general. Does this affect you? Let me answer your question with a question; are you on the following map?

The blue lines represent the proposed route of new underground tranmission lines, leading to a new substation at Alberta and 6th. That’s not a bad area for a substation, being mostly offices and light industrial, but one look at the map shows a lot more dug up roads in the future.

If you’d like to read up on the proposed project, but didn’t get a notice in the mail (and most everyone should have) you can check the corporation’s project website. And if you’d like to be more direct in your learning, there are two open houses this month, related to the project proposal;

Wednesday, Feb. 18th
4-8PM (drop-in anytime)
Holiday Inn – Vancouver Centre
Arbutus Ballroom
711 West Broadway

Wednesday, Feb. 25th
4-8PM (drop-in anytime)
Central Vancouver Public Library
Alice MacKay Room, Lower Level
Library Square
350 West Georgia Street
(don’t forgot to wear pink – it’s Pink Shirt Day)

Piccadilly Pub and Hotel

The Sun has extensive coverage this morning of the Piccadilly Pub and Hotel on Pender Street. This is one of a number of Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels which seemed likely to be lost for their current purpose as the greater rewards of the Olympics loom.

The owner blames a company he leased the hotel to, and the occupants.

Buying the hotel wasn’t done to “satisfy his penchant for charitable work or for helping the most unfortunate,” but as a business decision

And therein lies the cause. Our various levels of government have almost given up on social housing, and those wth a combination of mental health and addiction problems. In fact the mental illnesses are as much cause and effect of “self medication” for people who should probably be in resident care. But the resources for the mentally ill were lost when the psychiatric institutions were closed and not replaced with adequate care in the community.

The City through its bylaws tries to ensure safe and affordable housing – but clearly this policy has failed dismally as the province has been buying up SROs in an attempt to provide basic accommodation. But as the recent count of the homeless showed, there is not nearly enough. And just providing a room at a rate barely covered by social assistance is hardly an adequate response to the problems that are region wide but tend to be concentrated in downtown.

Canada Line Construction Cambie St



Canada Line Construction Cambie St, originally uploaded by Stephen Rees.

I have been avoiding Cambie Street for a while now. But since I was at the CBC this morning, and I was in no rush, I thought I would see how they are getting on. The short answer is, they are not finished yet. Not by a long chalk. But the traffic is back – I think because people like Jane Bird have been talking up how much progress they are making.

If, like me, you just want to have a gander, you probably won’t mind too much. I had plenty of time to get my camera out, wind down the window, and try for a shot of the first Save on Foods in the City. And no one was held up while I did it as we weren’t moving anyway. The single file traffic starts on Cambie Bridge and goes all the way up to 16th with no left turns. And the road surface also acts as a traffic calming device – better than pavé and speed humps.

This development looks like a welcome change from the single floor retail that has been the norm on major streets in this city for far too long. Not only Save On, but Home Depot and Winners too – with a lot of small stores on the road frontage to let – and residential on the top. So chalk up another victory for dense mixed use. Though I have my doubts about how many car trips will be drawn to this corner once it opens up. The store is open. The street not so much.

10 am March 28 2008 Richmond BC

I looked out at the back garden this morning and saw this. It is not supposed to be like this. Not at sea level anyway. What is the point of putting up with the highest real estate prices in Canada if we cannot crow about the weather to those unfortunate enough to live in Toronto

Vancouver Five: to be renamed

The West Coast Express

With the Strait of Georgia could be possibly being renamed Salish Sea [cbc] here’s a few more possible name changes.

5) Downtown East Side renamed Kamloops: in the rest of the province the main method of dealing with the homeless is to “encourage” them to move along to Vancouver.  Instead of trying to solve the problem the city could just make it another town’s problem.  Passing the buck will surely solve the problem.

4) Mayor Sam Sullivan renamed Former Mayor Sam Sullivan: Mandatory Sullivan bashing, check!

3) Vancouver renamed Fat City: An idea stolen from Hunter S. Thompson’s attempt to have Aspen renamed the same thing to scare off investors.  Perhaps with the world a bit more vulgar than it was in Thompson’s day we could substitute Fat for a four letter curse word.  Ideally this would leave the beautiful Vancouver to the people who live here, and not to property speculators who drive up housing costs without actually living here.

2) Canucks renamed to Winnipeg Jets: Let’s face it they lose and we turn on them like a drunk on an empty bottle of beer, always expecting more.  Winnipeg would appreciate the team, and like the Grizzlies we’d learn how to live without them.  Plus maybe we as a city are just cursed.

1) Cambie Street renamed to Kamloops: I was being sarcastic when I said that if we ignore the DTES homeless problem it would just go away.  The problem of Cambie Street merchants being inconvienced by the construction along the busy road is a problem that we can ignore and it will go away.   Eventually all the businesses there will be closed, which is great because maybe then we can build some new condos.  As you know housing demand in Fat City is high.

Vancouver hit by rental scams

Night Life, originally uploaded by *Sherry*.

My girlfriend [ls] works at a hostel in town, so she meets a lot of people who are first moving to Vancouver and looking for places to rent. It’s a hard thing to do, finding a rental in this city, with rents getting out of hand across the lower mainland this is not a renters’ market. Even if you don’t have a good chunk of money stolen from you it’s a troubling and often perverse situation

Craigslist [cl] is a useful tool for home hunters, but it’s also a tool for con artists who have been renting properties that either don’t exist or aren’t for rent. After collecting as much money as they can, usually the first month’s rent and security deposit, they vanish for a bit and then post a new ad for a new property. The annominity of Craigslist lets them post multiple listings, with no way to track them.

You’ve probably heard a version of this story, especially if you’ve been hunting for a place to live and the CBC recently picked it up [cbc]. The trouble is that in this market it has become increasingly common to pay for a rental sight unseen, and though the police are advising against it if you’ve been looking for a place to rent for awhile sometimes it can feel like you don’t have much choice. I’ve known people who have gone to view a property and been told that it’s already rented because someone showed up twenty minutes before them with a security deposit, first and last months’ rent all in cash.

Things to look for when renting through Craigslist:

– owners are out of the country and can not show the property: Being prepared with a deposit and rent when you go to look at the place is smart, but paying money to someone who is unable to show you the place is looking for trouble.

– the deal that’s too good to be true: Vancouver is expensive. If you see a rental posted that’s quite a bit cheaper than anything else be suspicious. That’s not to say that there aren’t deals out there, but be wary.

– make sure the address exists: it’s not impossible to fake a rental with a real address but if you can’t be bothered to see if there’s actually an apartment building where you’re going to be renting then maybe you deserve to be stolen from

Post office changing mailing address

The downtown Canada Post building on 349 West Georgia Street is up for sale.

I really hope they don’t just tear it down and then put up more condos and street-level boutique stores. So unimaginative.

So many possibilities: a new museum (Storyeum 2, anyone?), disco bowling lanes, a giant bronze statue of Prime Minister Stephen Harper with his mighty hand outstretched to show us the way forward to a new era of Conservative glory…

Dare to dream.

Guess Where?

Guess Where?

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