Wesgroup Properties began planning the site in 2007 and completed several of the commercial buildings before starting work on the residential towers. Typically, says Evan Allegretto, Wesgroup’s director of development, residences are the first phase of construction. However, the company was influenced by the history of Sapperton and the many jobs provided by the brewery, and in a bid to bring back jobs to the neighbourhood, the commercial space was completed first, he says.
This approach also means that the new amenities contribute to the Sapperton neighbourhood and are in place when residents move in.
When completed, the nine-acre site will comprise eight buildings: four commercial developments and four residential towers. Save-On-Foods is the anchor tenant in the first building, which was completed in 2010. In addition to the well-known grocery chain, this building on East Columbia Street has 60,000 square feet of strata office space, much of it occupied by health care-related businesses. Translink is a major tenant in the second commercial building, completed in 2013. The building on Nelson’s Court is also home to Browns Socialhouse, Shoppers Drug Mart and the ubiquitous Starbucks.
The 26-storey Columbia is attracting buyers of all ages who are at different stages of their lives. “The buyers are a mix of people who are downsizing, first-time buyers and young couples,” says sales manager Bethany Taylor.
Feedback from buyers shows that people are attracted by the sense of community and the location that is convenient to transit and the existing shops and amenities in the area, adds Taylor.
Careful planning has ensured that most homes will have spectacular views of the Fraser River through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
“The residential buildings are positioned on the diagonal to the Fraser River,” explains Allegretto. “The lowest parts of the buildings are on the most southern portion of site and get higher on the north-east side of the site. The gradual transition of height maximizes sight lines.”
On a clear day you can see Mount Baker, says Allegretto. But, on any day, the Port Mann and Pattullo bridges are a scenic backdrop to the busy Fraser River, where there is always activity and something interesting to watch, Taylor adds. Homes that don’t overlook the river have mountain views of the Golden Ears summit.
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