Posts Tagged ‘property’

The Suburbs Downtown and Downtown in the Suburbs

May 20, 2008

Vancouver’s downtown condo development market has been very successful.  Developers sold the lifestyle and the convenience.  “Walk to work”, “It’s like the suburbs downtown” are common selling points.  The problem is, condo developers have been so successful they’ve driven up the cost of property so high it discourages commercial property development.  Office projects can’t or won’t compete for prime locations downtown, or what few locations are left.  The condos have taken over downtown.

That has created a commercial office space crunch downtown.  Office vacancies are down to just two percent, the lowest in decades.   It also creates an interesting reverse flow situation where, while people are moving downtown into their new condos, the new office developments have largely been in the suburbs.  Wouldn’t it be an interesting twist if all those people who moved downtown so they could walk to work ended up commuting out to the suburbs to get to the office?

This might be a good time for a major office tower development downtown.  A two percent vacancy rate now, combined with the added interest in Vancouver that will likely follow the Olympics in 2010 should make for good market conditions.  It would take a couple years to complete, so the timing would be right.  The slowdown in the residential real estate market should also get some developers to look to the commercial property sector.

Vancouver could use a high profile office tower downtown.  The Shangri-La, the new multi-use tallest building in the city that is nearing completion, already makes a great addition to the skyline.  A new, even taller, office tower that stands out in both scale and form would add even greater definition.  What’s missing from the skyline is an iconic building, something instantly recognizable that people around the world will see on TV and know is in Vancouver.  It would raise the profile of the city, internationally.

If Vancouver wants to remain the commercial heart of Greater Vancouver, the city should think about trying to get an office project going and zoning to make sure there will be more in the future.  Otherwise, the amusing reverse commute situation could actually happen.  Who knows?  It may seem unlikely now, but maybe even Surrey could develop a downtown commercial district on some of its less attractive land.  They are already clearing out the crackheads and removing some houses with drug connections.  Then there’s that awful junkyard sitting on prime riverfront property.  It has the growing population and land to rival Vancouver.  It will probably have more people within twenty years.

Is Vancouver going to just sit back and let it happen?

Whisper Sweet Mortgages In Her Ear

February 13, 2008

How do you seduce a Vancouver woman?  Whisper sweet mortgages in her ear.  Every woman in the lower mainland of BC seems to want in on the property game and sees a man as a way to do it.

I met a woman in The Cascade a while ago.  Within a minute she was talking property.  She’d just returned to Vancouver from Ontario and was staying with her parents while she looked for a place to buy.  Then she asked me where I live.  When I told her she said something like, “That’s come up in the world lately, hasn’t it?”  She was starting to look on me as a potential real estate partner, which is all she really wants.

Sadly, this seems to be the primary purpose of the modern relationship here.  Feelings are secondary, at best.  With real estate prices going up and up, it takes two incomes to even dream of owning a home.  Even with two incomes, I wonder how some couples can afford to buy.  I guess they have to keep flipping them.  That reminds me, I hope the couple down the hall finishes their reno soon.  The noise is getting to me.

Vancouver has been the most expensive city in Canada to live in for most of the seven and a half years I’ve lived here and, based on what I’ve read, most of the last twenty to thirty years.  Unfortunately, we don’t have nearly the highest wages.  Employers aren’t exactly famous for their largesse.  So, women were in it for the money as it is.  Even a grocery store cashier who I always made laugh had to bring up the subject of money when I suggested we laugh somewhere else.  Sorry, not good enough.  Come to think of it, why can’t we turn the tables?  Where do you find rich women?  Where do they go for happy hour?

If this hasn’t happened in your city yet, get ready.  Vancouver is at the vanguard.  It brought you fusion cooking and mixed race couples.  Real estate partner relationships and marriages are next.

So, if you want to make her weak in the knees, lean in and whisper, “25 year variable rate closed…”  If you really want to show her you’re in it for the long haul, softly say, “40 year fixed rate closed”.  She’ll be yours and you’ll be in debt together until you’re old and wrinkly.

This post appears in the March 30, 2008 edition of the Carnival of Observations on Life.

Self-Serving Faith

January 26, 2008

I was having a coffee at a sidewalk cafe on Granville Street one day, when I noticed a couple of girls a couple of tables over.  I noticed one in particular, actually.  A pretty, dark haired girl in one of those knitted jacket things.  The attraction didn’t last long, though.

She may have noticed me noticing her.  Maybe not.  Anyway, she then said to her friend, loud enough for me to hear, “You know what I pray for?  I pray that the creator gets my dad to buy me a condo.”  Sigh…  Suddenly, I didn’t feel like giving her a demonstration of just how charming I can be.

Disappointment aside, this merely demonstrated – again – that faith is often accompanied by ulterior motives.  Praying for material gain and comfort.  Nothing new there.  Mundane.  Common.

Her lack of sincerity also made me think that many of the people who had suddenly declared themselves believers after George Bush was elected weren’t genuine.  They were just going with the flow.  Taking the path of least resistance.  Following the crowd, like sheep.  You can see how they could blend in with the full-time believers so easily.  Come join our flock…

Some people are followers and others identify with and emulate authority figures.  They crave power and authority so they take on its look and stance.  When Jimmy Carter was president of the U.S., my father wore cardigans.  During Lee Iaccoca’s high profile reign at Chrysler, he wore similar glasses.  If the current emperor talks of faith and god, many people will agree, to be like him.

I question the numbers of the truly faithful.  I think a lot of people hold onto half-hearted belief because thinking for themselves and taking personal responsibility is too much effort.  Either they already have enough on their plates with work and survival or they’re just too lazy.  They’ll make do with a boxed solution, even if it’s imperfect.  It’s convenience over quality.  A replacement system will probably have to be neatly packaged and easily consumable for them to go along with it.

Then there is another kind of person who holds onto what they don’t truly believe – the bet hedger.  I used to see a long-legged girl who confessed, “It doesn’t make sense to me, either, but I believe just in case I’m wrong.”  I guess the fires of hell are a powerful enough image to intimidate even sound logic and common sense.  Faith, it seems, is an investment.

Then again, maybe I’m just being stupid.  Maybe I should have shown the pretty girl at the cafe just how charming I can be, and let her father buy us a condo.  Sigh…  I’m too good for my own good.