Most people might see being handed an eviction notice devastating. Not so for Patricia Chou and her spouse Michael Marland. It was just the thing to get them moving on buying their first home.
“My husband and I got evicted from our rental apartment in South Granville because the owner wanted to sell,” she said. “That kind of spurred us into buying because we were tired of paying rent.”
The couple, who are leaving their one-bedroom suite at West 7th Avenue and Granville at the end of the month, have purchased a new two-bedroom home in Milano, a 30-storey highrise tower just south of the bustling Brentwood town centre in Burnaby. And while they won’t be moving for two years, they are happy to buy now, what with prices continuing to rise month by month.
Their new two-bedroom home in Milano is almost 60 square feet smaller than their one-bedroom rental, which was built about 10 years ago on the land formerly occupied by The Vancouver Sun and The Province. Chou, a logistics manager at a local insulation company, is studying at BCIT to become an interior designer, and in the course of her study, sees a lot of layouts. “I can tell what is a good plan and what is not a good plan, and it is really well done here.”
Milano’s two-bedroom suite kitchen, for instance, features, as an option, a dining table that pulls out of the island to provide comfortable seating for two. The gas cooktop is a full 36 inches wide with five burners, not the 24-inch wide “apartment size” common in other projects in the area, she said, adding the kitchen also has ample storage room.
Also adding to the sense of space are eight-foot-eight-inch-high ceilings and a 283-square-foot wraparound balcony that Chou notes allows in plenty of natural light from two sides of the apartment. Her South Granville home, though larger, doesn’t seem as open with just one side letting in natural light, she said.
Chou’s unit is the same as one of two show homes Solterra has on display at its presentation space off the Lougheed Highway. Another feature in both the studio and two-bedroom models that has proven popular is the frosted and tempered glass dividers that separate a bedroom from the main living area. The glass panels, suspended from the ceiling rather than guided by floor track, move quickly and silently to create a sense of openness or private space as needed. Chou and her husband, who are planning a family, have chosen to segregate the second bedroom with drywall for a future nursery.
The kitchen is outfitted in sleek, high-gloss Italian-made cabinetry, quartz countertops and premium appliances, such as: cooktop and wall oven by Fulgor; a 30-inch Liebherr integrated refrigerator with bottom-mount freezer drawers; a 24-inch Blomberg dishwasher; and a 30-inch Panasonic microwave mounted on the wall.
Bathrooms feature: Italian-imported cabinetry in horizontal wood grain Italian melamine and high gloss acrylic finishes; a custom medicine cabinet; and durable quartz countertops. All homes are air-conditioned and have laminate or engineered hardwood flooring and roller blinds.
Another major factor in choosing Burnaby was the price, she said, adding, “I don’t think we could afford anything in Vancouver.”
Prices starting in the high $200,000s have proven a major draw for first-time buyers, says Matthew McClenaghan, Solterra’s director of sales.
“People are being pushed out from the city by affordability,” he said.
“If you are talking new in the city, the next buildings going up are going to be nearing the $1,000 a square foot range. Here (in Burnaby) you are looking in the $600 to $700 a square foot range.”
Laura Rizzo, Solterra’s vice-president of marketing, says Milano is the company’s first project in Burnaby. It has built projects that have garnered more than 10 awards in Surrey, Abbotsford, Langley, Squamish and Vancouver. Yet, no two projects are alike in style or design.
“We choose areas that resonate,” she said. “Usually they are areas that are undergoing revitalization. We really look at the neighbourhood and try to see what it is looking for and then work with city planning and community groups and try to cater to something the community would value.”
“For example, with the Keefer Block in Vancouver, we didn’t just build a big tower. This was a prominent corner in Chinatown on Main and Keefer. We worked with heritage committees and the Chinatown Business Association to make sure what we were developing, the neighbourhood would have a positive feeling towards.”
In Squamish, Solterra built a centre for seniors at its award-winning Eaglewind master-planned community and in downtown Vancouver, made much-needed public parking for the Orpheum part of Solterra’s Symphony project nearby.
In addition to the tower, Milano has 11 townhouses, seven classed as “live-work” homes on three levels on the tower’s south side.
These homes, as the name suggests, are designed to meet the needs of entrepreneurs, small businesses and professionals through space that combines work space with living quarters.
The area surrounding Milano has seven active development rezoning proposals, which will transform the area, said McLenaghan. He described the area as “more residential” with buildings in the 25-to-30 storey range with wide boulevards lined with trees and townhouses.
Milano has about 20,000 square feet of common outdoor landscaped amenities, including a cosy fire pit, community herb garden, children’s play area, putting green and even an outdoor movie theatre with a large screen, an enduring hit at Solterra’s Keefer Block development in Chinatown.
Inside, there is a dramatic three-storey-high lobby with concierge service, a one-bedroom guest suite, residents’ lounge with gourmet kitchen, pool table, fully equipped fitness room with gym, cardio and free weight equipment, steam room and hot tub.
Project location: 2450 Alpha Avenue, Burnaby
Project size: A 30-storey concrete highrise with 176 one-, one-bedroom-and-den, two- and three-bedroom homes just south of the Brentwood town centre with easy access to SkyTrain and shopping
Price: $289,900 — $1.19 million
Residence size: Apartments from 458 square feet (plus 89-square-foot outdoor space), to townhouses with 1,693 square feet (plus 607 square feet of exterior)
Developer: Solterra (Milano) Limited Partnership
Interior designer: Solterra In-House Design Team
Architect: GBL Architects
Sales Centre: 4247 Lougheed Hwy., Burnaby
Hours: noon — 5 p.m., Sat — Thurs
Occupancy: Fall 2018