The West End has always been popular for its location, quiet neighborhoods and natural features. However, it is ascending to be the crown jewel of British Columbia, with several striking and architecturally significant developments currently in the pipeline.
Location – The Crown Jewel Of British Columbia
The West End is known for being the gateway to Stanley Park, combining the great outdoors and spectacular mountain views with the lifestyle of a major international city. Encompassing the incredible English Bay Beach, The West End is considered the crown jewel of British Columbia, and perhaps even North America.
Past, Present, and Future
The West End is a difficult property to navigate, as it is comprised mostly of older wood-frame apartments built in the ’70s and ’80s. While the location is unparalleled, unfortunately, many of these buildings are fairly dilapidated and require extensive remediation. In my opinion, many of these apartments should have been torn down 15-20 years ago and redeveloped. However, while the City of Vancouver has a mandate to increase density, they also face pushback from a public that wants to preserve affordable housing. In my view, they are caught between a rock and a hard place. The economic reality of this market simply doesn’t support affordable rentals – it supports luxury highrises.
Take a look at the latest projects due for completion over the next few years. Take the Alberni – by renowned architect Kengo Kuma, or the Butterfly by Westbank as an example. These will be selling for over $2000 per square foot and in some cases close to $3000 per square foot – not exactly affordable. I predict that Vancouver’s growing pains will be even more pronounced in the West End, and I can foresee a lot of gentrification and tenants being displaced over the coming decade.
A Challenge To Navigate
In addition to these buildings being built decades ago, an additional issue is a fact that most properties in the west end are Leasehold. this is when the land has been leased to a developer, who builds on it and leases the property. In the West End, these leaseholds generally come due in 2073. This is not ideal – I generally steer clients into Freehold ownership.
In addition, as I have mentioned before, many of these buildings are in terrible shape. In particular, if you’re looking to move into an older wood-frame building, make sure your Realtor reads through the strata documents with a fine-toothed comb. You want to try to find buildings that don’t have any major upcoming special levies and have already had the big-ticket items taken care of. These are things like rain screens, pipes, windows, and parkade membranes. You also want to make sure they have a healthy contingency reserve fund to cover any upcoming expenses.
Now, don’t get me wrong – there are many buildings in the West End that are in very well run strata and well cared for buildings, however, be careful to watch out for landmines. There are still some gems to be found in the crown jewel of BC’s real estate market.
To discuss what this information means for you, feel free to contact me at any time.