Hot on Heritage: Four-Storey Century Development Aims to Preserve Old-World Appeal
It's been widely predicted among those who know and love Vancouver's Main Street that Fraser Street was always going to be the next frontier.
Now Ledingham McAllister is the first major developer to put that theory to the test with its latest development, a four-storey condo project at Fraser and 30th Avenue, aptly named Century.
"Ledingham McAllister started in 1905, building many of Vancouver's first developments. And about the same time, Fraser Street was just getting started. That neighbourhood itself is one of the oldest in Vancouver so we saw a lot of synergy," says Manuela Mirecki, senior vice-president of marketing.
Century is likely to attract buyers who crave the authenticity of Main Street, located just a few blocks west, but can no longer afford its prices. But it's also just as likely to appeal to those who grew up in the culturally diverse neighbourhood and are looking to return.
Mirecki says it has been neat to see the excitement from some of the area's current residents -- even those who have no interest in buying -- who view the arrival of a major developer as a sign that Fraser Street is on the cusp of revival.
Even though it's not yet open, area residents regularly come knocking on the doors of the presentation centre, says Mirecki.
"The neighbourhood's ripe for recognition, it's an unpolished gem," she says. "It's a microcosm of Vancouver as a whole and it's right smack in the middle of the city."
Fraser Street started out 100 years ago as a dirt road with a streetcar track running down the middle to a small village on the south slope, according to the South Hill-Fraser Street Business Association.
Since then, this rural pocket has grown organically to reflect its residents -- European, Indian and Chinese immigrants since its earliest days.
Strolling down Fraser Street today, you still get the sense that this is essentially an old-world neighbourhood with a small-community feel. Shopkeepers sit outside their storefronts while long-timers hang out at neighbourhood coffee houses.
Shoppers can find everything from saris to spices, and restaurants cover the regions from Vietnam to Greece. Meanwhile, the Polish Community Centre and a Buddhist temple off Fraser Street on 49th Avenue serve as cultural anchors.
It's this decades-old character that no developer can re-create -- and is seen as one of the most valuable assets of Fraser Street.
Recognizing this fact, Mirecki is quick to point out that Ledingham McAllister has no intention of changing the character of the neighbourhood, but rather sees itself as well positioned to add amenities, including a grocery store and pharmacy on the ground level.
"We're not trying to change it. We're just trying to reflect it and fill in a few missing pieces," she says. "Even the building is very respectful of the heritage of the community. It's got the commercial store-fronts on the bottom, which was what Fraser Street was even in the beginning, and an old-brick feel to the building."
The development consists of three structures: A condo building that fronts onto Fraser Street and a second, U-shaped building behind, separated by an inner courtyard.
Century will also consist of 32 townhouses on Prince Albert Street, which will be released at a later date.
The condos range in size from one bedroom to two bedrooms plus den, with prices starting in the low $300,000s.
The suites come standard with granite kitchen countertops and Whirlpool appliances. In homage to classic details, the kitchen cabinets are shaker-style or contemporary flat panels, contrasted with charming penny round tiles.
Meanwhile, bathrooms feature Kohler fixtures and a porcelain-tiled wall accented with a tile insert of either marble or woodgrain tiles.
Century's grand opening is set for Sept. 19.
Completion is expected in 2011 for the condos and fall of 2010 for the townhouses.
What: Century, 213 condos and 32 townhouses
Where: Fraser Street and 30th Avenue, Vancouver
Developer: Ledingham McAllister
Sizes: One bedrooms, from 630 to 639 sq. ft.; one bed plus den from 719 to 731 sq. ft.; two bedrooms at 871 sq. ft.; and two bedrooms plus den at 850 sq. ft.
Prices: Starting in the low $300,000s.
Open: Presentation centre and show suite opens Sept. 19. Open daily from noon to 6 p.m. except Friday at 4305 Fraser St.,Vancouver.