Another 34 to 54 units of Fairview rental housing sold
Chatting Tuesday. May 24, with a condo owner who lives in the 3200 block of Heather Street, I leaned a few things.
I learned that the old apartment building up for sale at 711 West 17th Avenue, that I wrote about in March, may have been sold. I learned that the 17 rather singular two-storey duplexes in the 900 block between 18th and 19th Avenue definitely have been sold (for over 40 million dollars) and I learned that when money talks, it can sound awfully mean-spirited.
This condo owner I spoke to was a bona fide voice of real estate development and he didn’t give a fig about old buildings like those duplexes. He described them as looking like “welfare houses” and frankly hoped that they’d be torn down and redeveloped.
It’s true that they do look a little social housing. Unlike the surrounding residential buildings, which—whether multi-unit or single family—all have the fencing or hedging that says private property, these duplexes, built between 1954 and 1955, are dead plain and have no fenced-in yards.
Instead they’re arranged, side-by-side, on open lots, in two parallel rows, with nine duplexes facing 18th Avenue and eight facing 19th Avenue. Between and behind them, like a public housing estate, they share one giant backyard.
This grass-covered area is essentially a huge boulevard between two single-lane roads. This means that cars and service vehicles can easily get through the middle of the block but drivers can’t just speed straight through from the previous block’s ally. This makes the big playground between the duplexes that much safer for children.
A family-friendly and kid-safe space while it lasts
Any afternoon that I’m riding by these duplexes, located just off the east side of the 3400 block of Oak Street, there seem to be children playing freely on the large grass area or on the two lanes—always in sight of their parents, some of whom are invariably out behind their little box houses, doing this or that or just chit-chatting with other parents.
It’s been a friendly, happy, lively block for as long as I can remember. But I’m not as hopeful as one of the residents that I spoke to early Wednesday morning that it will continue that way for very long.
While his young daughter amused herself played with the contents of one of the recycling blue boxes, this young renter of one of the duplex units told me that when he first saw the block, before he moved in two years ago, he also took it to be some kind of social housing complex. But despite appearances, it was ordinary rental housing. Otherwise though, it turned out to be just as nice a place to live and raise a family as it appeared to be.
He was aware that the whole kit and kaboodle of duplexes had sold for about $40 million but he really hoped that the new owners would continue to maintain the 17 units of unique rental housing rather than redevelop the site. He and his family really liked living there.
How can this block afford to be affordable housing now?
According to realtor Avison Young, the sale of the 17 duplexes—906-966 West 18th Avenue and 907-961 West 19th Avenue (all 101,974 square feet)—took place on April 8, 2015 and the final price wasn’t $40 million, it was $46.2 million! This made it Metro Vancouver’s second richest real estate sale of the second half of 2015, behind the December 6 sale of the MEC site at 130 West Broadway Avenue for $48 million!
The $46.2 million sale price of the nine duplexes represented a 57 percent markup of their combined 2015 land and building assessment of $29,420,600—which, as of 2016, has already risen 27.5 percent to $37,519,800.
Another unconfirmed development
The other thing that the condo owner told me on Tuesday was something about the old apartment building at 711 W 17th Avenue,which, by the way, he didn’t much like either. In his opinion the mosaic tile work on the two street sides “dated it” but not in a good way.
Anyway, he told me that the apartment building, which went on sale at least two months ago, for $9.8 million, had sold for something in the neighbourhood of $8 million.
So far, I’ve been unable to get this confirmed or denied by Macdonald Realty, which is still listing the property for sale. Click the images to enlarge them