Vancouver Peak

Full Version: Gibsons Development - Blue Heron Village
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
[Image: attachment.php?aid=539]

There are two new condo projects in the works for Gibsons - no joke. Both listed their “as-yet-to-be-constructed” units just over a week ago on MLS. Soames Place - which I profiled yesterday in a rather lengthy, sit down with your coffee kinda post - got off the mark first; however, Blue Heron Village was only a couple of days behind. As the banner image above mentions this is phase 2 for BHV and will offer 5 commercial spaces on the ground level with 2 condos and 4 live/work units over levels 2 and 3.

BHV is located at 1001 Gibsons Way which is the major commercial/industrial route through upper Gibsons. It is also Hwy 101 by another name. BHV’s Phase 1 was completed in 2011 and successfully filled its 5 commercial units in short order with the Bank of Montreal anchoring the complex. The image on the left below is the view of BHV as you head east towards lower Gibsons, the two images in the next row are the rear of the complex taken from Mahan Rd with the image on the right showing where Phase 2 will be located. The red “X” on the Google map shows the BHV location in relation to the rest of the town and as the dotted line indicates it is just within Gibsons’ municipal boundary.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=540]

I like Phase 2’s quirky design - it’s definitely interesting and the blueprints show how the living units are accessed via the outside on level 2. Because only five of the units are two-storeyed, there is large common deck area on level 3.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=541]

Here is how the company behind the project, Gibsons-based Longman Developments, describes the concept behind Phase 2:

Quote:Blue Heron Village Phase II offers six live/work units with dual purpose space. Multiple uses include residential use only… commercial use only or mixed use (commercial/residential). Prospective Buyers will have the opportunity to consider completion options to help visualize possible uses.

All units are accessible from street level, enabling both residents and guests to come and go with ease. These Condominium Hybrid Units will allow professionals, entrepreneurs, artists and others to own a space that’s well suited to serve both home and work needs as well as reducing the cost of transportation and parking.

I have put together an image collage that shows the overall site plan of the BHV complex as well as the Phase 2 commercial level and six unit floorplans above it. Units 202 to 205 are the live/work units. As you will notice in the floorplans, the office/work areas of each unit can be accessed through a separate outside door or from within the unit and the unit likewise has its own entrance. The office/work space also has its own half bathroom. In principal, I like the concept; however, I have questions about its “execution” based on what the developer has written on the website (Note: highlighting and underlining are my own)…

Quote:A growing trend and with more and more people working at home at least part of the week, these modern, at home work spaces create and invite flexibility and versatility. Consider your unit for an office or a store or just as extra space you can use or rent out for income.

I am thinking you could end up with some very “questionable” enterprises in this building unless the town has established some guidelines as to exactly what occupations are acceptable in the office/work spaces. As well, if the units are snapped up by investors, would they handle the living area and work areas as two separate entities to do with as they please. I would do a great deal of research before I purchased one of these units. Perhaps the listing agency, Sutton Group-Westcoast Realty, could answer any questions; if not, I would be heading to Gibsons’ Municipal Office.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=542]

Here is the BHV spreadsheet with the current listing information:

[Image: attachment.php?aid=543]

I added the image below to the end my Soames Place post and because it is applicable to BHV I will include it here, too. These are all the condos and townhomes currently on the market in the neighbourhood. This is an awful lot of competition chasing very few buyers.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=544]

Except for Soames Place which is another condo/commercial complex, all the other listings shown are townhomes such as those at Island Vista at 665 Crucil Rd that are 1500-2198sf and never been lived in. There are the two new 1000sf duplexes on Gerussi Lane. Also, we could include the seven new 2 & 3 bedroom, 1,088 to 1360sf detached homes reduced to $309,000 - $339,000 at the Mews off Gerussi Lane (not indicated on map above because they are homes). The townhomes at 735 Park Rd are only 8 - 14 years old and range in size from 1265-1634sf.

In addition, Gibsons town council has given the green light for another 28-unit townhouse complex on Park Road. The details can be found in this June 8, 2013 Coast Reporter article. Yep, that’s definitely what the area needs - another townhouse complex.
December 16, 2013 Update

At heart, I like the concept behind live/work residences; however, the picture that forms in my mind is more along the lines of a co-op situation where you have group of like-minded individuals coming together and sharing a vision. Well, I don’t think the developer of Blue Heron Village and me are on the same wave-length.

I raised a red flag in my first post because of the write-up on the development’s website that said the units could be residence use only, commercial use only or mixed residence/commercial use. Well, in addition to that red flag, horns are now blaring, too. Although, I had a sense of uneasiness, I didn’t grasp the full implications of that write-up until the end of November when I discovered that the five second floor residences with workspaces were given a commercial listing, too.

In the top left listing in the image below is the residential listing for Unit 202. In that listing, it is described as “Residential Attached”. On the top right, is the unit’s new commercial listing and here the unit is described solely as “Office.” Again, the new listing repeats the fact the unit can be used as residence use only, commercial use only or mixed residence/commercial use. What kind of mash-up is this?

[Image: attachment.php?aid=651]

Now, this month’s Sunshine Coast Real Estate Guide offers a little blurb on these live/work units which I have included below. In your mind, does this write-up jive with how these units come across now that they have both a residential and commercial listing?

[Image: attachment.php?aid=652]

Would you want to live with your family in one of these units, if the unit next door was completely taken over by a busy office - like maybe a real estate or doctor’s office, a dental practise or telemarketer? That is why I suggested in the post above I would want to find out exactly what the zoning allows business-wise for these units.

And, what happens if an investor buys a few of these units and then rents out the residence portions separately from the workspace portions. For only two units, that could end up being four offices or two residences and two office or any other combination. In any case, it would be four different groups of tenants/office workers coming and going at what time of the day or night?

I really wonder if the Gibsons Town Council thought this one through. One day, I might try and track down the zoning application for this development to see exactly how it was presented to the Council. If anyone reading this post knows what took place or has access to that information, please post it here in this thread.

The day after the commercial listing of the second floor units (I no longer feel comfortable describing them as residences), the ground floor units were listed commercially. All five units are “For Lease” and those new listings are below.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=653]

This is the first time I have seen a new SC development list its commercial units before the structure has actually been built. Neither the Watermark nor The Wharf Place in Sechelt took such a step. I am wondering if next to no interest has been shown locally for these commercial units hence the need to get them up in ICX or CSLLink, pronto.

These commercial units, likewise, received a write-up in this month’s Sunshine Coast Real Estate Guide and it is below.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=654]

Here is the updated Blue Heron Village spreadsheet. The second floor units’ commercial listing numbers are on the right in the ‘Notes’ section. The ground level units’ area is now complete and includes the Lease Op Costs/sf.

For fun, I calculated the total lease cost for Unit 104 @ 660sf. It is $18,150 + $5,520 = $23.670/yr or $1,972.50/mth. On top of this, add on all your other business expenses and it gets rather pricey to operate out of this new building. Yes, the times they are a changing on the SC. Gone is the day of opening a little gift shop in a funky old building near lower town for a few hundred dollars a month. Sad.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=655]

The commercial listings also mention that the whole ground level can be leased as one 4175sf commercial/retail space.

By the way, the developer is already mentioning Phase 3 of this development slated for 2016. Okie-dokie.
June 21, 2014 Update:

I have mentioned here before at VanPeak that when I see a development begin posting its “for sale” units on Craigslist I begin thinking the project is in trouble. Watermark’s commercial units began appearing in March and sure enough as of today all its retail commercial units remain unsold.

The latest Sunshine Coast development to make a Craigslist appearance is the Phase 2 Blue Heron Village complex in Gibsons. In the image below, you can see that the second floor “live/work” residential units postings appear over three days from May 27 to June 4. The ads included the most recent construction pics and according to the developer the project will be completed sometime this summer.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=931]

I have updated the Phase 2 spreadsheet because there has in fact been one sale. Unit 206, was “under offer” when the units were first listed. That “offer” must have fallen through because the unit was listed on April 23 at $259,000. It sold June 9 for $250,969.

So, as the complex approaches its summer completion date, five of the six “live/work” residences/offices remain unsold. As well, none of the ground level commercial units have been leased since all five are still listed on as of June 20th.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=932]

Blue Heron Village ran the ad below in the Sunshine Coast's weekly newspapers (The Local, Coast Reporter) in March and first week of June.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=933]

The ad encouraged visitors to drop by the Blue Heron Village booth at the Sunshine Coast 2014 Home & Cottage Show held on June 14th at the Gibson & Area Community Centre. The show is the brainchild of the Coast Communities Builders Association (CCBA). The H&C Show’s website says last weekend’s event was a ripping success (“the best one yet!”) with nearly 1600 in attendance (exhibitor booth pics have been uploaded now, too).

The Blue Heron Village project wasn’t the only development hoping to the drum up interest at this year’s show. Leeon Projects had a booth promoting its Gibsons condo development - Soames Place. As well, Onni Group was pushing its Sechelt townhouse development - Edgewater at Porpoise Bay. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn these developments are in the same pickle as Blue Heron Village. We’ll have to keep an eye on the sales data in the weeks ahead to see if the any of these developments made back their attendance and advertising fees.

As for Longman Developments and its Blue Heron Village project, the lack of sales and leasing has to be unsettling to say the least. In addition, Longman owns another commercial building on Gibsons Way - Coast Professional Building. Three units are sitting empty in that building and have been since early spring. More signs of the lack of economic growth on the SC - its looming small business crisis.
August 24, 2014 Update:

A couple days after my June 21st post above, I picked up a copy of The Local’s June 19th newspaper - it’s a weekly just like the Coast Reporter. Well, this is the ad that appeared on The Local’s back page. Believe me, when I uploaded that last post only one unit was sold: #206 because I had checked that very morning.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=978]

Those additional sold units did not show up in MLS until 1 and 2 weeks after that Local ad and I was checking almost every day. So, here is the updated Blue Heron Village Phase 2 spreadsheet.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=979]

This morning I checked and Units 202, 203, and 204 are still listed for sale and all the commercial units are listed on as available for lease - I have done my due diligence. I figure as soon as I post this update another unit or two will sell which should make the developer one happy camper.

I am hoping the sold units were bought by those intending to both live and work in them and not by investors who could rent out the living quarters and the work space separately. As I mentioned before, I like the concept but only if the living and work space are a united package which doesn’t seem to be the case here according to the agent write-up. I hope I have just misunderstood because I believe live/work units should be part of a community’s zoning mix. Blue Heron Village will be a project to follow and if successful it will set an example.

The only concern is the commercial units at ground level. There’s an awful lot of commercial space available for lease and sale in both Gibsons and Sechelt. I’m wondering how long it will take to be absorbed or if it ever will be.
December 20, 2014 Update:

Blue Heron Village Phase 2 is now move in ready and likely has been for the last few months.

As of today, three of the six “residential” units on Level 2 have been sold: Units 201, 205 and 206. As for the five commercial spaces on the ground level, a check on shows all are still available to lease. So, no need to update my August 24th spreadsheet in the post directly above.

Originally, I was quite impressed with plans for Phase 2, Blue Heron Village. I liked its funky design (still do) and, above all, I liked the concept behind “live/work” units. However, my enthusiasm paled when the residential units were also given a “commercial” listing with the write-up stating the units could be residential only, commercial only or mixed use. I outlined possible implications, as I saw them, in my first and second posts above.

I queried whether or not the Town of Gibsons really thought through the implications of such zoning that allowed separate rental of the residence and office spaces on Level 2; and, wondered what types of businesses would or wouldn’t be allowed. For example, could a masseuse rent the “office” portion and have his/her clients drop in at 2 o’clock in the morning?

Well, here is the first “mortgage helper” ad posted November 25th on Craigslist. Since only 1 of the “live/work” combo units have sold to date, it should be safe to assume this involves Unit 205 which sold in June for $321,705.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=1041]

Using an online mortgage calculator: with a $16,600 deposit (5%) at 2.85% interest for 25 years, a similar unit owner would face a monthly mortgage payment of $1,423 (but, this may not include the CMHC premium). Tack on the monthly maintenance fee $199.75 (may increase in a year or two to build up the war chest), town taxes ($100/mth at least, I think), insurance payments, utilites, etc, it looks like the new #205 owner could be dishing out close to $2,000/mth. Yep, some help with that might be nice. By the way at the bare bones $1,423 monthly mortgage payment, the price of that unit at the end of those 25 years is $443,500.

Now, what are the chances someone will want to pay $415/mth for a 13’ x 13’ room with no direct sunlight (faces north, is under Level 3 overhang) with absolutely no street exposure (on the second level, behind Phase 1 with no direct access to Gibsons Way - the main thoroughfare). And, where do you hang/nail the business sign?

(Note: you can see the floorplan for Unit 205 at the bottom of the first post in this thread).


There was another ad up on Craigslist and it was posted November 20th. Apparently, the owner of the Unit 206 is unable to or doesn’t want to live in it so it was for rent. This is one of two units without a separate “office” space; the other being Unit 201. Unit 206 sold in early June for $250,969. Here is its Craigslist ad and write-up mentioning many notable items such as its fir beams, 2-headed shower, on-demand hot water gas heater, and glass sliding doors. It was offered at $1,200/mth plus utilities.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=1042]

Now, I really wanted to understand the flow of this building because of the residential/commercial mixed use. As well, I wanted to figure out how to get to Unit 206 and understand its layout based on what I could see in the Craigslist pics. To help, I put together the image below. Unit 206 is located in that three-story end closest to the viewer in the upper left pic. The red arrow shows the entrance to a stairwell that takes you up to the exterior common walkway on Level 2. Unit 206 and all other units are accessed off this walkway. At the other end of the building, there is another stairwell (three storied) plus an elevator.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=1043]

In the unit floorplan on the left above, the kitchen appliances are located along one wall; however, in reality, this has been changed and the sink is now located in front of the window and the stove is now at the previous sink location. I think the new configuration is much better. A gas fireplace has been added to the corner of the livingroom by the stairwell. The tub in the upper level bathroom has been replaced with that above mentioned 2-headed shower.

The ad images below show these changes and red arrows are items that caught my eye. The first arrow in the 3rd pic points to something at the top of the stairs. The 4th pic shows that this object is the stackable washer and dryer and look what is beside them – the “on-demand (Rinnai) gas hot water heater”. In the floorplan above, it looks like this area should or could have been enclosed, so I’m wondering why it didn’t happen. Maybe the new owner was cutting costs? Not a great down-the-road resale feature, in my opinion.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=1044]

The loft bedroom is nice and bright with a view. The closet is in its own alcove, but why the mirrored doors given its locale? There is also a door in that alcove that takes you out onto the Level 3 exterior walkway – good fire escape.

And, then there’s that fir beam in the shower. What do you think? Would Mike Holmes be happy to see this? I was wondering if there were fir beams running through any other showers in Phase 2, so I pulled together these images below to check. Nope, Unit 206 appears to be the only one – whew.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=1045]
(Note: the floorplan images have been rotated to mirror the building direction in the first image)

After staring at and trying to understand these floorplans I discovered that there sure are a lot of access points into some of these units. The rental Unit 206 has two: the main door off Level 2 and the door by the closet on Level 3. Units 202-204, have 5 access doors: two off Level 2 (into office and into residence) and a door between office and residence; and, two bedroom doors on Level 3 (one to a private patio from one bedroom and one to the common walkway from the other bedroom). Unit 201 has only 1 access door – off Level 2 (it's the only single level unit).

Seems to me like there will be an awful lot of keys to keep track of especially if those “office” spaces are being rented out separately from the residences. What about the doors from the stairwells? The door to the second level has to be open to the public otherwise people can’t get to the “office” spaces. I would think you would want to have that third level accessible only to building residents so maybe that door needs a key.

Well, that is one thing about Craigslist ads and pics –they offer a view into a residence and building that you wouldn’t otherwise have and make you think about stuff that otherwise might not cross your mind. Fun.
December 14, 2015 Update

You would think keeping track of 6 condo units in one small complex would be a piece of cake...well, not if its Blue Heron Village. You’ll read why further on.

Phase 1 Blue Heron Village, a small, quirkily designed commercial/retail complex was a ripping success. Anchored by the Bank of Montreal and the successful Sheer Bliss Bakery on the ground level, the building has become an iconic landmark along the Gibsons Way strip. No one would blame the developer, Longman Development Ltd, for having high hopes for Phase 2 in the proposed multi-structure BHV development project.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=1238]

Unlike Phase 1, Phase 2 would be a commercial/residential mix. The ground level would offer up to 5 retail/office leasable units and the levels above would house 6 (one- and two-storied) purchasable condo units. Now, what was unique about Phase 2 besides the buildings design was that the upper levels were zoned “live/work.”

My earlier posts above explain that what in theory might seem straight forward was anything but when it came to the marketing of these condo units. To start, each unit was given a separate residential and commercial listing (result: 12 unique listings). In the marketing, it suggested potential buyers for four of the units could live in one portion and rent out the self-contained ‘studio’ space as a mortgage helper; and, investors could purchase those same units and rent out the residential portion and the studio portion separately. I really questioned how this ‘fish and fowl’ mix would play out in the long run.

Pre-construction sales began in fall 2013. Well, when it comes to real estate timing is everything and Blue Heron Village faced the exact same issues as Soames Place further down “The Way” – a slumping market and changing demographics.

Brief History:

Pre-construction sales began November, 2013 with residential and commercial listings. The units were posted to Craigslists, too. Three units sold by early July, 2014: #201 (1 storey, no extra studio space), #206 (2 storey, no extra studio space) and #205 (2-storey + studio space). Construction completed by end of summer, 2014.

#202, #203, #204 were listed on MLS until fall 2015.


#202: only unit on MLS and it remains the original 2013 pre-construction listing with same price and same write-up. The commercial listing is gone.

Quote:Offering six Live/Work units with dual purpose space. Uses include residential only, commercial only or mixed use (commercial/residential). Completion options to help visualize possible uses. Elevator or stairs from street level for easy access. An opportunity for professionals, entrepreneurs, artists etc. to own a space that's well suited to serve both home and work needs. Featuring a clean contemporary look including, h/w floors, 9 ft ceilings, glass detail, Granite counters, & s/s appl pkg. Spacious patios and a large communal sundeck where neighbors become friends. Exterior design with an Urban look and feel. Offering a "Walk to everything" convenience ... a carefree lifestyle you deserve! Call Agents for full pkg. Also Listed on MLS as Commercial/Office - MLS# V4038095.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=1239]

#203: MLS dropped in fall 2015. I’ve not seen any MLS sales data for this unit nor any rental ad; but, maybe its rented.

#204: MLS listing dropped fall 2015. Rental ad appears on Craigslist in October with two exterior pics. Craigslist ad re-posted November 26th and an interior pic is added. The image below shows the ads, the pics and the write-up. Now, I’m looking at this and wondering, “Really? Has someone lost interest?” Whoever put this ad up wasn't going to work at it. Yep, good enough.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=1240]

#205: Sold in June, 2014. Owner tried renting out the “studio” portion and placed ads on Craigslist starting in November, 2014. Asking $415/mth for $170sf. No idea if it worked or owner gave up (See previous BHV post directly above for details).

Unit 206: Purchased in April 2014. Owner tries to rent unit for $1200/mth via November 2014 Craigslist post (See previous post above for details). Owner puts unit up for sale May 27, 2015 and in October removes the MLS listing and does this...

[Image: attachment.php?aid=1241]

Members can be very forthcoming in their AirBnB profiles and here we learn that the owners, Trudi and John Verge, have called the Sunshine Coast home for 25 years and operate a business called DV LogWorks. A quick Google search shows home and business are in Halfmoon Bay and DV Logworks was contracted to add the external wood beam trimming on Blue Heron Village.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=1242]

So, they bought and couldn’t get a long term renter; decided to sell and couldn’t find a buyer; and, now have it up on AirBnB. So, now they have to deal with bookings and unit clean-up (minimum 2-day stay). Will Trudi make that almost hour drive there and back again from Halfmoon Bay to Gibsons three times per week to clean the unit or will she hire a company to do this? This really sounds like fun...not!

I beginning to think one of the few growth industries on the SC might be in the managing and cleaning of AirBnB units.

Commercial Units: probably the only bright spot for the developer as the total ground level commercial space was leased as one unit in May 2015. The new tenant calls itself Coast Naturals; opened for business in early June; and, according to its website is...

[Image: attachment.php?aid=1245]

The business’ Facebook page really promotes all its supplements and they stock a lot – I know because I paid a visit after they opened. Well, I would say that’s the other growth industry on the SC with its ever aging population and retirees moving in: prescription drugs and supplements. Good choice guys.

So, here’s the update spreadsheet for Blue Heron Village, Phase 2. Hopefully, the colour-coding helps make sense of it all:

(click on image)

To Save/Print the Spreadsheet:
The best procedure is to save it to your hard drive first. So, click on the image and after it opens in a new tab, right click and click ‘Save image as...’ (exact wording depends on your browser). With Windows OS, you will save it in your Pictures Library. After saving the image, find it and click on it and it should open in the ‘Windows Photo Viewer.” Click on ‘Print’ in menu bar and then click ‘Print’ again and the print dialog box will open. You want ‘Full Page Photo’ and most importantly at the bottom you want to remove the checkmark for ‘Fit picture to frame’ (click in box to remove checkmark). Set the other options to your own preferences; however, ‘Letter’ size paper works best unless you can choose something larger like ‘Legal.’
December 18, 2015 Update

The Sunshine Coast Real Estate Guide combined edition for December 2015-January 2016 was released this week. A quick perusal found one listing ad for the Blue Heron Village on page 117.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=1247]

I went back and checked the November issue and the ad was for #202, #203 and #204 and it said “Only three LIVE/WORK units remaining!" I just checked Craigslist and the rental for #204 is still there and was updated Dec 14th to move it up on the board. And, double checking my sales data shows nothing in November or December-to-date for #203 and #204.