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I have already written three posts on the Edgewater at Porpoise Bay development but it’s time to get really serious about this project and I will tell you why in a moment.

The first post appeared in my ‘Dead Ducks, Non-fliers & Snake Oil’[/i] thread and actually was a serious post. I outlined the history of this development which first came to market in 2007 as [i]‘Waterfront at Porpoise Bay’. It was terrible timing for its Vancouver-based developer, Onni Group, with the stock market melt-down on the horizon. The project was put on hold and brought back to life in 2010 as ‘Edgewater at Porpoise Bay’ and, once again, Onni’s timing stinks with the SC in a real estate melt down. I think Onni needs to trade in its crystal ball for a newer model.

My second and third posts were not quite so serious. No, not quite. In both, I was nominating Onni for the Vancouver Peak RE ‘Magical’ Marketing Award. You can view the first nomination post here and the second nomination post here.

So, why this new thread? It just so happens that last week Onni listed four of its yet-to-be-built townhomes on MLS so it is time to give the development a spreadsheet. I think the fact that it has done so means its own pre-sale endeavour was the pits over summer. Of course, it doesn’t help when you give conflicting information about when the Sales Centre is open. On its company website, it says the Sales Centre is open every Saturday and Sunday while on the Edgewater website it says it is open daily except Tuesdays. So, if you showed up on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday was it open or closed? Well, I guess that happens when you're juggling so many projects in the air all at once.

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I see Onni has added a Gallery to the Edgewater website. I’m not sure how long it has been there because they don’t make it very obvious (Gallery link is in top right corner of home page). I have a feeling it was recently added along with the ‘Media’ link which has only two examples of coverage - both from this past August.

I have posted a few examples of the computer generated interior renderings below - yawn. These new condo/townhouse developments are all starting to look the same on the inside - boring, really, really boring. Note, the recessed book shelves on either side of the fireplace and the recessed built-in buffet in the dining area do not show up in any of the floorplans. Perhaps, both are options?

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So, the project received media exposure on August 20th when the Vancouver Sun purchased Coast reporter Christina Symons' independent piece (hence ‘Special to the Sun’) in the byline. The article went out over the newswire and I noticed via Google that it was reprinted in the Ottawa Citizen and perhaps by others in the chain. However, as I said above, the fact Onni is now listing units likely means the publicity didn’t amount to much so Onni will have to bite the bullet and pay commissions on any sales via Realtors. But, you know, I don’t think there will be very many at least not this year.

So, here is the 'Edgewater at Porpoise Bay' spreadsheet. As you can see, four townhomes have been listed and they are in the second and third rows away from the waterfront. No waterfront townhomes are on the block and I think it is because Onni doesn’t like being laughed at. It will be interesting to find out what Onni feels the waterfront units are worth if and when it ever decides to make it public. I noticed in the Symons Van Sun piece she only lists the ‘starting from’ price. I am guessing based on what Onni wants for Floorplan D units ($514,900) that the waterfront townhomes are approaching the $750-$800,00 mark. Sure, go for it.

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I have gone through all the floorplans (I will attach them at the end of the post) and the waterfront units (floorplans A & B) are each two storeys in height. All other units in the two rows back are three storeys in height. So, will they manage a peak at the water? They might if the owners choose to live in the master bedrooms on the third floor and likely only if they are standing up. By the way, Onni offers no outside images of the these three storey townhomes and I wonder why. I would recommend reading the fine print at the bottom of each floorplan - the answer may be there.

I have one final note to make about the project - remember folks this is only Phase 1 and amounts to only a quarter of the overall total development which you can see below. Cozy, real cozy. Where are all these 116 individual buyers coming from? If Onni knows the answer to that one, I am sure other SC developers would be willing to pay.

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It is really is difficult to understand why Onni is proceeding with this project given the state of SC RE market right now. I guess the company is tired of bleeding money on this site and is willing to give it a go. They must have shelled out a few million at least since 2007 preparing two separate development plans, marketing for both, and having to attend countless DOS council and planning meetings. But, they know there is a risk which is why Onni has demanded flexibility from the DOS and asked for up to four years to meet its ‘go-ahead’ obligations.

Over half a million bucks for 'Floorplan D'...ROFLOL...jeeez, enough already; you're killing me!

Here are the Edgewater at Porpoise Bay Floorplans (and note the disclaimer at the bottom of each floorplan):


Look what I just found in the Sept 13th, 2013 Coast Reporter Real Estate Weekly. Highlighted for your delight....way to go, Onni. Keep 'em guessing.

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And, how long has your 'Edgewater at Porpoise Bay' Sales Centre had just weekend only hours? (see post above)

And, thinking about your townhouse pricing, you might like to take a look at the Island Vista development in Gibsons which does have an oceanview from each TH and it's actually a much nicer one than yours will have.

There is also the award winning Wakefield Beach development in West Sechelt that you might like to study. We all know what is happening to their duplex and townhouse values despite their beautiful oceanviews.
August 26, 2014 Update:

How would a developer get across the idea it’s edgy, urban and its project is hot…really, really hot. If you’re Onni, you open a “Pop-Up” Sales Centre…twice…one weekend after the other…in West Van. Of course, you might have decided to add another weekend because hardly any one showed up for the first event and since you have all the stuff there and if the venue is open, what the hell. Besides, someone is supposedly going to win that weekend for 2 at Rockwater and I imagine Onni would like that cost worth its while, right? But, I could be wrong and both weekends were a ripping, pop-up success. You think?

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Now, if you look at those notices above which "popped-up" on the Edgewater at Porpoise Bay website, we see young, edgy, urban hipsters Onni would like us to think are going to snap up the townhomes in this project situated up there along East Porpoise Bay in Sechelt where according to the 2011 Canada Census 47.5% of the population is aged 55 and over. I bet that percentage is higher now given the homes, condos and townhomes I’ve seen listed for resale these past few years. (By the way, for Gibsons it was 37.5%).

So, did the hipsters appear at the “Pop-Up”? Well, I don’t think so if the picture Onni posted to its Facebook page on August 17th is any indication (left, below); but, that’s okay because those folks would feel more at home in Sechelt, anyways. By the way in addition to the possibility of winning that Rockwater weekend, the “Pop-Up” attendees received a cute little vial of sand. Do you really think that sand came from the Edgewater beach? Naw, I am sure there would be a public health or safety law against it.

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(ROFLOL...the last time I saw something like this was when I was was a kid and the corked vials were filled with volcanic ash from Mount St. Helen's and they were for sale at "selected" stores in Vancouver.)

Edgewater at Porpoise Bay is definitely one project that has flown under the radar - only two posts in this thread and the last was almost a year ago. It’s not that I’ve ignored it it’s just that the way it was listed makes it near impossible to follow any sales especially if the pre-construction units are bought through an “Agreement to Purchase.”

Onni is building this project in phases and when the website went up only the townhomes of Phase 1 were presented (see first post above). Of those 27 townhouse units, Onni listed only 4 in 2013 on MLS (63, 109, 114, 116) and why those ones? Well, since they were furthest from the beach and view, they would be the cheaper priced units. Onni did give a hint of how high prices could go by listing one “D” plan unit from the second row of townhomes. With Unit #63 coming in at $514,900, my thought was, “No way, won’t fly”. It looks like the market agreed because Onni changed its pricing a month ago.

On July 24, three of the townhomes listings were removed (109, 114, 116) and replaced with three new units (106, 112, 115). The two units with “C” Plans saw price increases and the unit with the “C1” plan dropped in price. Unit #63 was relisted and along with the new MLS number the price dropped to $495,900 - now below the half million dollar hurdle. One more unit was listed to bring the total to 5. Unit #59 is also a “D” plan at $499,900 - down $15,000 from last year’s “D” plan pricing. I have updated the Edgewater spreadsheet to reflect these changes. As well, the number of units shown has increased because Onni has added phase 2 to the website. This increases the number of townhomes available to 49 (Phase 1 = 27, Phase 2 = 22).

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(Note: RMV=Removed. Also, my spreadsheet follows Onni’s floorplan colour coding which for some reason Onni has ignored in row two on the site plan.)

I have a few construction pics to pass along. Earlier this year, I noticed that Google Earth was adding 2013 satellite shots and I found one for East Porpoise Bay and you can see that the first townhouse unit was under construction by July 18. I believe Sutton West Coast Realty is involved with the marketing of this project and this past April 3 The Robinson Group posted a construction pic announcing Phase 1 was about to start. The most recent construction pic comes from Onni’s Facebook page. The July 22 shot shows the mid-row of townhomes with their 3 levels going in behind the waterfront units (2 levels).

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Given the dates, these are likely all Phase 1. All the current listings included the phrases: “Now under construction”, “Move in next spring” or “Move in Spring 2015”, and “List price includes current incentive.” There’s no reason Phase2 couldn’t be completed by spring 2015, too.

Now as of today (August 26), there are 91 condos/townhomes (including Onni’s 5) listed in the core area of Sechelt. If you include West Sechelt and the Davis Bay/Wilson Creek area, the number jumps to 109. If we throw Edgewater’s remaining 44 Phase 1 & 2 TH units the total rises to 153. As I’ve asked before, “Where will the buyers come from to absorb this inventory?”

As an aside, there are two townhouse units (#7, #16) at The Chelsea off Tyler Rd in West Sechelt that were completed in mid-2010. These units have never sold and are still sitting empty. The developer only built 18 of the project’s planned 61 townhomes and in the last few years approached Sechelt council once again to have the land rezoned only this time for single detached - not that there would be any buyers for those, either.

Here’s the new Site Plan for the Edgewater at Porpoise Bay recently added to the website:

To think, this isn’t half the number of townhomes Onni has planned for this site.
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December 14, 2014 Update:

There are many mysteries in life and one of them would be unit sales at Edgewater at Porpoise Bay. We have absolutely no idea if there have been any let alone how many and Onni manages this by only listing 4 units at a time on MLS.

In the first week of December, Onni cycled in its third set of townhouse units: #22, #60, #66 and #108. In addition to keeping sales private, this process of limited listing allows Onni to play around a bit with pricing if it chooses to do so without making it blatantly obvious.

Now, with this latest cycle of listings, Onni has revealed one mystery – how much those waterfront “A” townhomes will cost. Unit 22, a middle unit, comes in at $664,900 – wow. So, the end units will be even closer to $700,000 and possibly a tad over. Well, why anyone would want to pay those prices for a front row townhome in such a densely proposed development like this boggles my mind. Believe me, the waterfront and its view at this locale isn’t worth a premium price. You would get a more “bang for your buck” waterfront and/or view by buying a single detached house up in west Porpoise Bay, Oracle Heights or the new Silverstone Heights development; and, at the latter you would save at least $100,000. Well, whatever – people have strange relationships with their money and how they spend it can leave you scratching your head.

Onni has added more pics with this new listing cycle; however, except for the floorplan image, they are exactly the same for each unit listing which is strange. Most of the images are the same as those shown before a shovel full of dirt was turned (see first thread post). So, only the two images I’ve shown above strike me as being “real” rather than feeling computer generated.

So, here is the updated Edgewater spreadsheet which likely won’t change until the 2015 spring market.

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September 5, 2015 Update

Folks, my gut tells me this project's in trouble. The first alarm bell went off on July 27, 2015 when I saw this rental listing on the Holywell Properties website.

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This is a waterfront unit! Could this be an investor putting the unit up for rent? Well, all doubt was removed when I saw that “incentive” added to the bottom of listing after the August 1st long weekend – that’s the second alarm bell.

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No, the developer is behind this rental listing; and, the incentive hasn’t worked. Yesterday, the third alarm bell sounded - Onni dropped unit sale prices. It’s knocked -$30,000 off the cheapest townhouse unit (Plan C). You can see how that’s played out on the development’s website homepage...

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(Note: Edgewater’s first “MOVE IN TODAY” announcement appeared in a full page ad July 3, 2015 on page 2 of the Coast Reporter weekly. This page 2 full page ad ran every week up to and including August 21st - that's 10x.)

Prices on its largest unit (Plan D – 1840sf) began at $514,900 in September, 2013; dropped to $495,000 in June, 2014; went up to $510,900 in December, 2014; dropped down to $485,000 at the end of May, 2015; and, yesterday...slid down to $449,000. That’s a total drop of -$65,900 or -12.8% on a brand new never lived in townhome in the hottest Sunshine Coast real estate market since 2007! (We need to think about this folks. This is telling us something about the Sunshine Coast RE market and I don’t think it’s a positive message.)

So, here’s the Edgewater site plan and updated spreadsheet. Bear in mind, Onni plays its cards close to its chest. It has its own Realty firm (Onni Realty Ltd) and will list only 4 units at any one time. So, it started out with 4 listings in September 2013 and they were removed in June 2014 and replaced with four different unit listings. Those June listings were removed in December 2014 and replaced with 4 different unit listings. In May 2015, 3 of the listings were removed and replaced with 3 different units, but 1 unit listing was relisted (first time Onni broke its pattern). The advantage to this method is it creates uncertainty as to whether or not a unit has been sold plus you can muck about with pricing without raising eyebrows.

(Click on each image to open in a new tab and clicking on that image will enlarge it. Easiest to view if you save that images to your computer and print it off.)

As of this date, not one of all these many listed units has sold; however, that doesn't mean there were no buyers if they took the “contract to purchase” route. That being said my guess is that despite the fancy brochures with the vials of sand passed out at the 2014 “pop up” sales centres in West Van; despite its May 2015 long weekend BBQ; and, despite the day after day manning of its Sunshine Coast Sales Centre, Onni’s sales goals have not been met. As a result, I think Phase 2 has been put on hold; not one new construction pic has appeared on the Edgewater website since October 14, 2014 nor gone out on Onni’s Instagram/Twitter feeds in all of 2015.