|Vinson House was featured in this 1918 poster of West Vancouver most spectacular homes.|
|The Vinson family pose on the front steps of their recently finished home. At the time, it was located on a five-acre lot!|
Given the success of Hollyburn Mews, my first small, innovative West Vancouver infill development, which replaced three older single-family houses across from West Vancouver United Church, I was offered the opportunity to buy the house before it went on the market.
|Hollyburn Mews replaced 3 single-family houses with 6 duplexes and West Vancouver||'s first 3 legal coach houses.|
|The duplexes were designed to look like large single-family houses. Access to the coach houses is from both the street and lane.|
|Hollyburn Mews took 5 years to get approved. But once completed, even the objectors agreed it offered much-needed new housing choices. Recently, West Vancouver approved a new OCP to permit more similar developments.|
|Some of the Hollyburn Mews residents pose in front of their development. As is the case with the Vinson House project, it combines the neighbourliness of yesterday with the modern conveniences of today!|
However, I was concerned about the construction challenges and costs for such an undertaking. I therefore approached Trasolini Chetner, the company that had built Hollyburn Mews, to see if they were interested in partnering with me on the development since they had previously been involved with numerous heritage restorations in Vancouver.
|Trasolini Chetner has been involved with numerous heritage projects including the Two Dorothies, featured on the cover of this special book.|
In May 2015, as noted in the North Shore News, the project was approved. https://www.nsnews.com/news/heritage-homes-preserved-in-west-vancouver-1.2262093
Like most heritage conversions, the project took much longer than expected, and cost significantly more than budgeted. But our lender, Canadian Western Bank was understanding, and agreed to increased the loan, and extend the repayment period, in return for additional fees of course!
During the construction, we pre-sold the single-level garden suite on the lower level of the Heritage House. However, we were not too aggressive about selling the other homes since we thought it would be better to allow the new buyers to see the completed product.
|The heritage house was moved 30 feet on the lot, in order to create room for four new garages. The two new detached houses are at the side of the large lot.|
|Vinson House looks like it would be more at home in Shaughnessey than West Vancouver. Some realtors have suggested I should be advertising it in Vancouver, not West Vancouver, since it represents such good value compared to Vancouver $$$.|
|Vinson House was recently staged in order to help a new buyer imagine how it might look with furniture.|
In July, we organized a garden party to present the three remaining homes to the neighbours and broader community. Most people loved the homes and told us they were just what West Vancouver needed. However, this was the first HRA development offered for sale in West Vancouver, and the concept of strata-infill was new to the District.
To cut a long story short, 9 months later, the three homes are still on the market. Because of falling house prices, new provincial government taxes, and great uncertainty about the future of the housing market, we are waiting for offers.
Last month, in an effort to sell the houses before the bank calls the loan, we brought in a new sales team. Tom Hassan, Eric Christiansen and Eric Latta were each given one of the listings. At their urging, we have reduced our prices. The Heritage House, which first came to market at $3.3 million is now $2,695,000. https://sothebysrealty.ca/en/property/british-columbia/greater-vancouver-real-estate/west-vancouver/389578/
The Coach House has dropped to $2,298,000 http://www.ericchristiansen.com/listings/?listingId=1099 and the Garden Residence, is $2,498,000 https://www.royallepage.ca/en/property/british-columbia/west-vancouver/1419-gordon-avenue/9139312/mlsr2341448/
|The kitchens in both the Coach House and Garden Residence are designed to appeal to someone who wants lots of space and brightness.|
|Like the heritage house, the Garden Residence features a large front porch along with three private outdoor spaces, that can be fenced off if so desired.|
While no doubt someone will criticize me for this, the fact is we have given Vancouver area buyers every opportunity to buy these homes!
Yesterday, we accepted an offer on one of the houses. Unfortunately, it is subject to the sale of another house. But our realtors are optimistic that the other sale will go through, and we will just be left with two houses for sale.
I am sharing this story because as builders, Trasolini Chetner and I have poured our hearts and souls into this project. While we wanted to make some money doing this, it was also a labour of love. While I appreciate these very special homes are not for everyone, I find it hard to believe that there aren't local buyers for a beautifully restored West Vancouver heritage house and two brand new 2500 sq.ft. +/ thoughtfully designed houses, especially at the reduced prices.
In the media (and Twitter) many delight at the falling house prices, especially at the top end of the market. Of course, these people do not own homes they are thinking of selling.
I am well aware that for too long, housing prices escalated far too quickly. But now I am concerned that while we often talk about the need for heritage conservation and 'missing middle' housing choices, as long at the market remains so uncertain, we won't see many of these projects get underway, especially in West Vancouver, and other municipalities that desperately need more housing choices.
To see what I consider the excellent floor plans and finishes at Vinson House Residences, go to www.vinsonhouseresidences.com. Let me know what you think.
|Posing with former owner Carol Howie for a North Shore News story about the history and restoration of this significant heritage property.|