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Sechelt Development - The Watermark at Sechelt
05-10-2013, 01:14 PM, (This post was last modified: 05-11-2013, 11:53 AM by Skook.)
#1
Sechelt Development - The Watermark at Sechelt
The Watermark at Sechelt is the new condo development that grabbed the last remaining waterfront land in the core of Sechelt and is now laughing all the way to…Lund!! Yep, ‘laughing to Lund’ but not to the bank based on unit sales so far.

I first introduced this development in a March post and after a recent discovery I thought it deserved the ‘Skook Treatment’. I am not impressed with this project. I think this will be Sechelt’s mini-Coal Harbour if and when they manage to sell all the units which I don’t think will happen anytime soon. I bet any of those who buy in will visit maybe three months of the year tops and the rest of the year vacant units will be enjoying that waterfront view.

The development of this land was contentious with the townsfolk because of the waterfront and it languished for years. I believe the property has traded hands at least once and the current developer is Seacliff Properties Ltd, a subsidiary of Seacliff Holdings Ltd - a private company owned by the Gordon family of Vancouver. This present project was contentious, too, because of its height - 6 stories. However, the development of the land and the project eventually passed Sechelt Council and as one local, Kenneth McMillan, wrote, “the town…turned its back on the ocean, one of its finest assets.”

This ‘turning its back on the ocean’ is compounded by a design element of this project that absolutely appalls me and why Sechelt Council passed this boggles my mind. This development comprises two six stories buildings (5665 & 5725 Toredo St) that are mirror images of each other. I have indicated on the map below their locations with an ‘X’ - 5665 is closest to Inlet Ave. The first level of each building will be commercial space and good luck to any business locating here because except for those willing to pay premium prices for the few spaces facing the ocean and a couple facing Toredo most of the commercial space will be closed off from the outdoors as the design encases that level one space between the two buildings completely in concrete. The resulting Toredo streetscape can be seen in the two pictures below in the last row - brilliant, absolutely, fabs-ulously brilliant.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=144]

I can only think of one reason for this design - to maximize the commercial space and, personally, I think this proffering of a concrete ass-end towards the town and those who live there adds insult to injury. By the way, most of Sechelt’s current ‘downtown’ businesses are found within that blue outlined area and, personally, I would rather walk down a street than visit shops housed in a concrete bunker. The nearby Trail Bay Centre shopping mall has attempted to compensate its lack of streetscape with huge skylights letting in daylight, but I see nothing similar on Watermark’s plans.

In my opinion, had the developer shown any vision, he would have kept the space open at sea-level and turned it into a European-style plaza available to one and all. Shops, restaurants or cafés could have lined the plaza on both sides and those tables with umbrellas pictured above would have faced the ocean and not a concrete wall and highway traffic on Toredo (seriously?!)

I would love to know how many commercial spaces there are and how many have been leased to date. If the units sold give any indication, then not many. As I mentioned in another post, demographics are wrecking havoc on SC businesses. Aging boomers watching their pennies haven’t many needs and part-time residents don’t buy when they aren’t around 9 months of the year. This should be interesting.

Now, about those unit sales. When I first mentioned this project back in March I said the Watermark website indicated that Phase 1 (5665) was 50% sold and Phase 2 (5725) was 31% sold. However, last week I decided to see how the project was doing and when I looked at the MLS information the 'sold' figures didn’t jive. This discrepancy made me think of a post by Whispers, ‘What does “Sold Out” mean? Watermark wasn’t indicating it was “Sold Out”, but it was showing more units sold than what MLS was indicating and so I decided to take a closer look at the project. By the way, the marketing firm mentioned in Whispers’ post responded and said, “Sold” means a firm and binding contract with received deposit.” If this were so in Watermark’s case, why wasn’t it a closed deal and the info passed onto MLS? Sold is sold, right?

So, I have created s spreadsheet and on the left side is the info for Phase 1 and on the right for Phase 2. Each has a column showing the units Watermark indicates as sold on its website floorplans (*Wmk 'Sales' via FlrPlns (May 10/13)) and I’ve highlighted these in gold. The other columns show MLS sales and listing info. The spreadsheet indicates that prices for the units have increased for Phase 2. Now, when comparing unit prices you need to note there are some odd shaped units on floors 2, 3 and 4 and also that the buildings are ‘mirror-images’ of each other. The small table above the spreadsheet shows how those particular units relate to each other between buildings; the remaining units can be thought of as identical between Phase 1 and Phase 2.

Note: In spreadsheet, L=Listed, S=Sold.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=145]

It will be interesting to follow this development and see if any of those units indicated as “Sold” but have no corresponding “MLS Sold” information end up being listed in the future. So, bearing in mind that there are 52 units in each building, the MLS information indicates that 35% of Phase 1 has sold and not 50%; and, 29% of Phase 2 has sold and not 31%. As Watermark's website shows, the buildings are still under construction, so I am sure the developer is hoping and praying that sells pick up when Phase 1 is complete - because they sure stink now.

Those sales have languished despite some serious money poured into marketing. The developer hired North Vancouver based Pacesetter Sales & Marketing Strategies and the company has produced two marketing “magazines” for Watermark with one released for Spring/Summer 2012 and the other for Spring/Summer 2013. They’re interesting to look at because they blur that line between what is ‘news’ and what is ‘advertising/marketing’ - another issue raised by the Whispers blog. I laughed out loud when I looked at those ‘mags’ because both make a point of stressing how close St. Mary’s hospital is to Watermark. In fact, in the 2013 edition, the ‘article’ was moved right to the front - flip the cover and there it is. Well, we can guess who their primary target market is, can’t we. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

Finally, there is a picture related to this development on Duane Burnett’s blog - he has been the ‘go-to’ photographer for the Coast Reporter newspaper for a number of years. I pulled that McMillan quote from the Comments section in that post. Scroll down for a funny pic following the story and keep scrolling for those interesting local comments.

May 11, 2013 Update:

There is something that has caught my eye which prompts me to add to this post.

When you start getting creative with your building design such as this one which is trying to give as many units as possible an oceanview if only via balconies you have to twist the units around a central axis. As a result, something has to give and in this design it is windows. Now, most of us would accept windowless bathrooms, but would you accept windowless bedrooms - especially at these prices? Now, with some of these units not only do they have a second bedroom with no windows but also an office or den. Therefore, when you add in all the windowless bathrooms, buyers are being asked to pay big bucks for up to 3 or 4 rooms with no windows.

For example:

Type B floorplan (Ph 1 & 2 units 210, 211, 310, 311, 408, 409): windowless bathrooms (2). bedroom (1).

Type D floorplan (Ph 1 & 2 units 206,207,306, 307, 404, 405): windowless bathrooms (2), bedroom (1), Den (1)

Type E foorplan (Ph 1 & 2 units 204, 205, 207, 305, 402, 403): windowless bathrooms (2). bedroom (1), Den (1)

Other units with windowless 2nd bedrooms: 502, 503, 506, 507, 602, 603.

Now, this is what has caught my eye - if you look at the spreadsheet how many of these units listed here have sold? I think I have just doubled the interest factor on this development. I can hardly wait for the months to unfold on this one.

One more thing; yep, there is always one more thing. I visited the architectural firm's website last night (http://www.trbarchitecture.ca/) and here is what they have to say about their Watermark design:

Quote:This luxury mixed-use, multi-family residential project is built on the last remaining waterfront property in Sechelt. The project is comprised of 104 residential units in two, five-storey towers set on a ground floor retail/parkade podium with a landscaped plaza and waterfront bistro. The overall form gives a subtle nod to ubiquitous west coast, post and beam construction and the material palette is inspired by the beaches of Sechelt. The north elevation creates a dynamic urban street edge, invigorating the downtown area.

So, now I understand why in the Realtor listings they say there is just under 7,000 s.f. of commercial space which didn't make sense to me; so, most of the concrete bunker (sorry, podium) will be a tenant parkade and the need for that didn't cross my mind. Of course, being that close to the shore they couldn't sink a parkade below sea level unless the developer was willing to accept a substantial engineering bill. So, Toredo St. gets its concrete wall though the designer tries to pretty it up by saying it "creates a dynamic urban street edge, invigorating the downtown area." Nice try, but you are full of it.


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Sechelt Development - The Watermark at Sechelt - by Skook - 05-10-2013, 01:14 PM

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