Modern meets heritage at Keefer Block

January 25, 2013




Project location: 189 Keefer St. (Keefer and Main)


Project size: 81 homes in nine storeys


Residence size: One, two and three-bedroom homes from 448 — 1,013 sq. ft.


Prices: from $249,900


Developer: Solterra Group of Companies


Architect: Rafii Architects


Interior design: Occupy Design


Sales centre: 880 Seymour St.


Hours: Now open for previews by appointment only. Call 604-682-8813 or email




Occupancy: Fall 2014



Special to The Sun


For many people, the purchase of a home at Main and Keefer might lead to some lifestyle tweaks.


The character of the walkable neighbourhood would demand it.


There’s an an array of fresh produce, meat and seafood lining the sidewalks within a city block.


There’s the busy hum of a changing and diverse city at the front door.


The neighbourhood offers lessons in the city’s heritage, a network of cycling routes and a social vibrancy that would encourage anyone to fully participate in the community.


Laura Rizzo and her colleagues at the Solterra Group of Developments know the location will be the draw for buyers of the 81 suites at the Keefer Block, Solterra’s pre-sale project.


It’s likely that those who will jump at the chance to buy a home in Chinatown — situated on the cusp of downtown and within walking distance to southeast False Creek — will be attracted by what the community has to offer.


It’s no surprise to Rizzo, Solterra’s vice-president of marketing, that the thousands of people who have registered on the Keefer Block website hope to be “end users”— people intent on living in their apartments, rather than renting them out — and that most of them come from in and around the area.


“We found that a lot of them are renting in Gastown, Main Street and they really like the East Side.”


Rizzo knows why. “Just walking around, down Union Street, Georgia [Street], you see this eclectic mix. It’s still traditional, but there’s a good mix for the newer generation.”


To respect the tradition and protect heritage values, Rafii Architects worked closely with city design panels to ensure that the building, though contemporary, blended with the architectural heritage so evident in surrounding buildings. To that end, the nine-storey building will be graced with red brick on two sides to reflect the older buildings across the street. On another side, lighter brick and stone will bring a more contemporary flair.


“They wanted to use materials that still lends to Chinatown’s architectural feel,” Rizzo says. “They wanted to get a sense of the older historic long narrow buildings, to tie into the neighbourhood, and work with our theme of ‘modern meets heritage’.”


The modern touch comes into play with the amenities inside — and atop — the Keefer Block.


On the rooftop, a kitchenette and social space, community garden plots and natural children’s play area surround a party space and outdoor movie-screening area.

In the indoor garage, a dog washing station and bike maintenance area will offer handy places to take care of both the dog and the bike — perhaps two of the greatest loves of a young resident’s life.


The suites’ interiors will be outfitted to appeal to the young urban buyer as well. Keefer Block’s display suite in Seymour Street’s 800-block is a model of versatility and contemporary style. Rizzo says the company’s pride comes down to the details.


“When we were designing the homes, we looked at the quality, first and foremost. We tried to get at the sense of coolness [found in the surrounding community], but without sparing the high-end quality.”


The kitchen is a perfect case in point.


The cooking and prep space in the 571-square-foot show home lines a wall. It’s unobtrusive and impressive in its detail, with composite stone counters and deep bi-fold cabinets above the sink and next to the cooking area that provide storage space for food and supplies. The contemporary look is magnified by the Electrolux gas burner and appliance package, deep sink and a Kohler faucet that rotates and bends, with an aluminum-weave detail that Rizzo says is “a signature piece inspired by Porsche pens.”


Directly opposite the kitchen is the suite’s scene stealer.


Frosted glass movable walls included in every suite of this layout glide open to reveal a bedroom fitted with two eight-foot-tall built-in cabinets flanking the space meant for a bed. (Both cabinets are included in the suite).


In this display suite, designers have added an optional upgrade: an Italian-designed Murphy bed that folds up into its wall unit to reveal a built-in dining table attached in the same unit. With the glass walls open, the arrangement creates a spacious party or meeting area.


“Our big thing is to have versatility in this space,” Rizzo says.


The bathroom’s floors and shower are lined with wide tiles, a long mirror with an embedded medicine cabinet, and a spacious, unconventional vanity built with a deep open storage area on top of closed shelving.


Rizzo, who is involved in both the marketing and the interior design of the display suite, is satisfied that the interiors reflect the same tastes and sense of urban adventure that can be found in the surrounding community.


“People celebrate our cultural heritage and this area is a good example of it.”

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T  604.528.6010

F  604.522.1604

1 – 460 Fraserview Place

Delta, British Columbia

Canada  V3M 6H4

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