The Olympic Village condos have been a troubled investment for some years now. Vancouver officials spent about $740 million of taxpayers’ money to develop the lot, but the project lost its financial backup from New York-based financial institutions in early 2010. Millennium Waters, as the developers named the project, was a major failure with only 30 per cent of the condos sold by late 2010, when Ernst & Young came in.
Now, their plan is to sell the remaining 230 units at substantially cut prices. Rumours spread that the reductions could go up to 50 per cent, with an average 30 per cent price cut. Ernst & Young will put these condos on the market on February 17; they also plan to put 127 new rental units to the market as a part of the project’s rebirth. The most luxurious homes in the Village, with prices exceeding millions of dollars, will not yet be offered for sale until the market for this type of high-end condos improves; a total of 244 suites, including the rentals, will still be held out of the market.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson doesn’t expect a profitable outcome; at this point, breaking even will be considered a success. Former city council candidate and architect Michael Geller fears an even worse fate for the taxpayers’ money: “If I had to guess a number, (the loss is) in the order of $150 million dollars.” The city didn’t sell the whole project at a cheaper bulk price to another investor, so now it must cope with the ups and downs of the market. Mayor Robertson says that being patient is the best thing to do in this kind of a situation.
The aim of the new plan is to increase occupancy in the condos from 32 per cent recorded in November 2010 to 70 per cent by the summer of 2011. A new name was also devised for the area, Village on False Creek, with the commercial centre named The Shops at the Village.