Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dueling Towers in Metrotown - the race into the sky

The balloon went up at 12 Noon. On the ground a few necks craned skyward to watch the van-sized yellow blimp swaying in the light breeze. Most attempted to follow the faint white line of tether to its anchor point. What was the promotion? The balloon trailer was parked 4509 Kingsway. Location, location, location!

In front of the SOVEREIGN sales centre on Kingsway, a squirming scrum of prospective condo Buyers waited for the doors to open. All were Asian, all were focused on acquisition and all were oblivious to the yellow blimp. This was the second realtor opening for Bosa Properties' "Estates" in the sky, coming soon to the corner of Kingsway and Willingdon Avenue.

The blimp was intended to punctuate the full structural height of 514.4 feet which the SOVEREIGN tower will top out approximately two years from today, with completion in early 2014.
The handsome 45 story "skyscraper" will rise above Metrotown next door to the Bosa Properties corporate head office, which is at 4555 Kingsway, Burnaby.

Something extraordinary is about to happen in Burnaby. The cap on building height has finally been lifted for the Metrotown corridor, and we are about to witness a race to the sky. Two beautiful buildings will be competing for bragging rights.... the tallest, the greater number of floors, the better views ... the better investment. Bosa's SOVEREIGN has the jump on Intracorp's METROPLACE, but we may see a neck-in-race race to complete. That would be fun, and put some overtime $$$ in the pockets of deserving building trades. METROPLACE will be an all-condo building and it is going to harvest a mountain of cash, so they could afford to make it a horse race. The company is hinting at cheaper prices, but nobody gives anything away in a Sellers' Market. You can give a listen to Intracorp President Don Forsgren in a short YOUTUBE spot (here).

The METROPLACE people just assembled a Sales Center (left foreground) next door to the HILTON. It was a bold move, setting up a presence under the windows of the Bosa Properties HQ, which is located in the Staples Building (right background). High above floats the blimp, marking the site of SOVEREIGN Tower. The actual site of the METROPLACE Tower is behind the Metrotown Skytrain Station, but why hide the Sales Centre over there? My fondest wish is that Intracorp had chosen the name "Metropolis" . Bosa has won the naming game, and is first out of the gate with its marketing.
Surely the good folks at HILTON cannot be happy with Bosa Properties, which has elected to enter the hotel business. Much more ambitious than the original 2006 proposal, the mating of a 20 floor hotel to a residential tower, and during a period of record setting prices, guarantees that Bosa will make a great deal of money. Ownership of the hotel in the SOVEREIGN Tower will be retained by Bosa and under the titular management of an American hotel chain. SOVEREIGN and METROPLACE are development unleashed, and the appropriate cliche is that we "are sailing into uncharted waters". I can think of a few antiquated, wood frame apartment blocks in Metrotown which must be feeling the chill breath of development. The rising public expectation is that more skyscrapers are coming to Metrotown. I hear that opinion expressed all over town.
The METROPLACE Presentation Centre will not open until March. In the meantime its spiffy new signboard boasts their tower will have 46 Floors... one more than Bosa's SOVEREIGN. Just a month ago they were advertising "45" floors. Perhaps they plan to squeeze a few floors (lower ceilings) as is often done in downtown Vancouver.

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