Posts Tagged ‘Trapp Block’

Salient Gears Up For Revitalization Of The Trapp Block In New Westminster

January 30th, 2008

Trapp Block Rendering

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Western Investor: Royal Ascent

January 15th, 2008

A view of downtown New Westminster and the Quay from the Fraser River: 17 construction projects are now underway in the core, mostly residential. LEFT: Heritage preservation is a cornerstone of New Westminster’s official community plan.

REGIONAL ROUNDUP – New Westminster has a whole new plan and a lot of fans as it continues a major makeover 

Dermot Mack
Western Investor
January 2008 

When residential development consultant Jennifer Podmore was asked recently where she saw the best real estate investment for 2008, the managing partner of MPC Intelligence didn’t hesitate.

“New Westminster,” she said, “is a fantastic market.” 

As Podmore explained, the Royal City has lower new condominium prices than Surrey, Skytrain links to Vancouver, and an aggressive downtown renewal strategy that has drawn a rush of developers. She estimates 2,000 new condominiums will be built in the city over the next two years, yet “you can still buy resale condominiums for under $200,000.” 

Podmore, who herself has purchased a home in New West, is among a growing number of fans of the first capital city of the British Columbia as it prepares for a new century. 

On December 1 the city unveiled its new official community plan, which provided meat to the bones of a redevelopment plan that civic planners and politicians have chewed on for years. 

Details remain elusive, but the city clearly has a vision to concentrate highdensity residential development, and it does give a nod to encouraging light industrial and commercial development.


Vancouver Sun: Robert Fung says his Salient Group ‘takes the life-cycle clock back to zero.’

October 4th, 2007
Beside the renovated 1912 Lumberman's Building, Robert Fung says his Salient Group 'takes the life-cycle clock back to zero.'

Beside the renovated 1912 Lumberman's Building, Robert Fung says his Salient Group 'takes the life-cycle clock back to zero.'

Robert Fung should have H as a middle initial. It would stand for “heritage,” because that has characterized the Salient development firm’s president since he left Concord Pacific to found it in 2001.

His first acquisition was the now-121-year-old Alhambra on Gastown’s Maple Tree Square where Salient has its offices. When city workers resume their duties, Fung should be able to start renovating the 26,000-square-foot structure into “what will still be one of the city’s oldest but also most modern buildings.” 

Ditto the nearby 50,000-square-foot Flack Block, where $15 million, including hard costs of $12 million, will add a fifth floor and totally renovate a “substantially vacant” building that housed “a pawnshop, booze cans and grow-ops” when Fung paid $2.5 million for it in 2005. 

“It was technically an office block, but the city had a broad definition,” Fung said, smiling. 

He was standing across Richards Street from the Lumbermen’s Building, which he bought vacant for $4 million in 2005. Closer to the Central Business District and in better physical condition than most of Salient’s Gastown centred projects, the building still broadly fits Fung’s aim of “breathing new life into vacant, desolate buildings, and bringing in a new population that appreciates them.”

He means folk who’ll occupy 29 live-work condos in the 1907 Paris Block at Hastings-off-Carrall Street. Demolition began this week for an 18-unit annex where similar units will fetch $600 per square foot. Sensitive to gentrification charges from Downtown Eastside residents, he said Salient projects will “round out the community… [and] the street feels more comfortable.”


Vancouver Magazine: Lofty Ambition

September 7th, 2007


Panorama – You are here
Lofty Ambition

Vancouver Magazine
September 7, 2007

A spacious loft-style condo under $300,000? New Westminster is chockablock with them. This unit, found on the top floor of the former post office, was one of the first heritage building renos in the city’s downtown core, in 2002, the minimalist concrete structure was overhauled to accommodate a police station on the first two floors (forget property crime, and loud parties for that matter) and 45 apartments above. On completion, this unit sold for around $149,000 (similar spaces in downtown Vancouver went for $250,000). It looks much as it did then, with its 11ft. ceilings, contractor’s cream paint and pristine cabinetry and tile. It’s a low-maintenance starter, sure, and one block from the nearest SkyTrain station, but is a condo in New West a wise buy? Tough call. A few years back, local journalists were writing about the city’s “exciting resurgence;” every new business and condo development received column inches. Now, the optimism seems premature. This stretch of Columbia Street, once the “Miracle Mile,” still lacks decent eateries, pubs and shops – unless you’re in 

the market for a fuschia bridesmaid dress. And Price Waterhouse Coopers until recently was warning of an over-supply in the condo market. The gap between planned starts and estimated housing requirements is narrowing, mostly because of fewer planned starts, but there’s still reason to tread carefully.

502-549 Columbia St.
Monthly Condo Fee: $214.33 House size: 798 sq. ft.
Bedrooms: 1 Bathrooms: 1

1. Antique Alley
Front Street’s antique row is a lot like Main Street’s: quality is hit and miss. The major difference is price. Here, a mid-century teak credenza can still be found for $500, and pariking in the waterfront parkade overhead Is cheap and abundant. Definitely worth a rainy-day trip.

2. 668 Columbia St.
Sign of the times: The Trapp Block – Columbla Street’s prettiest heritage building – used to house a family hardware store. Now its main floor is home to a Yaletown Sofa Co., a chainlet that specializes in condo-sized furniture, and the bullding is slated for redevelopment by Robert Fung’s Salient Group, the developer remaking Gastown.

3. Columbia Station
From here, the termlnus of the original SkyTraln line, it’s only a 20 minute ride to Waterfront Station provided you don’t have to wait for a train during peak hours.

BC Business: A Striking Nature

September 1st, 2006

Bowman Show Suite 1

BC Business: A Striking Nature
The salient group’s unique brand of urban revitalization begins with a plan for a healthy community

Consider Gastown, its cobbled streets, 100-year-old hotels, banks and office buildings – one of the last bastions of Vancouver’s architectural past, a once luxurious neighbourhood now relegated to social housing and tourism, its recent retail life fueled by maple syrup and t-shirts. 

Robert Fung, founder and president of The Salient Group of companies, has a vision for Gastown, a vision that applies equally to any urban neighbourhood where grand old buildings are threatened by neglect and obsolescence. “As a company, Salient acquires, develops and manages residential and commercial properties,” says Fung. “These goals run congruent to our passion, which is urban infill, and the rejuvenation and reinterpretation of our dwindling architectural heritage. We believe that building on a neighbourhood’s existing characteristics enhances the health of a community.” 

”What Robert identified is the concept of critical mass of redevelopment,” explains Gair Williamson, principle of Gair Williamson Architects. “If you can change three, five or six buildings, you begin to change the neighbourhood. It’s a very smart strategy.” According to Mark Ostry of Acton Ostry Architects, the Salient Group strategically picks inner city neighbourhoods in established communities that are without a sense of overall “balance.” Fung, says Ostry, has been very successful in negotiating with city planning departments to add value to the company’s developments. “Philosophically, Salient is very interested in this form of community redevelopment,” says Ostry, “They really try to weave their projects into the existing urban fabric.”


Business Edge: Redevelopment proves heritage site saver

July 20th, 2006

Business Edge: Redevelopment proves heritage site saver
Vancouver spurs projects with incentive program

By Monte Stewart – Business Edge
Published: 07/20/2006

Old is new again in Vancouver as developers try to preserve heritage buildings and deflate ballooning construction costs. 

Heritage building redevelopment is on the rise, says Larry Beasley, the City of Vancouver’s director of planning. There are 28 heritage redevelopment projects, worth $300 million, either underway or in the planning stages downtown and in Chinatown. 

Most projects are residential, he adds. 

“We want to save heritage sites in downtown particularly – especially in the central business district,” says Beasley. 

The city, which has had a heritage conservation program in place since 1983, is doing its part to spur demand by offering an incentive program – particularly in the heritage district along Hastings Street. 

Incentives include density transfers, whereby a developer can transfer density from a heritage site to another location, property tax abatement, and $50,000 façade grants to restore building frontages. 

Beasley says heritage redevelopment has increased lately because high land prices have spurred property owners to do something with heritage sites, and the density transfers have become accepted since they were introduced 10 to 15 years ago. 

The incentives have also virtually eliminated fights between groups trying to save heritage buildings and city hall. Beasley says the city was in a quandary because it is legally required to buy heritage sites if owners oppose their redevelopment. 

“In the past, we were losing heritage buildings left and right and there was nothing the municipality could do about it,” says Beasley.

Developers say it’s much cheaper to spruce up an old building than erect a new one. Demand is also high among homeowners.

“Nobody wants to live like their neighbour,” says Bob Rennie of Rennie Marketing Systems. “(A retro condo) is something different.”

Rennie, whose firm sold market condos in the Woodward’s department store mixed-use redevelopment on the Downtown East Side, says a heritage building’s appeal is all about character. Municipal policies, he adds, will be critical to maintaining developers’ interest in rejuvenating heritage buildings. 

“You can’t take (heritage buildings) away, so as long as the bonus and structure is in place, it incentivizes the developer to do it,” says Rennie. “But with today’s construction costs, we’re going to see that market slowing down, too.” 

However, the slowdown looks like it will arrive slowly – as long as there is adequate supply of properties to redevelop. 

Ward McAllister, the Urban Development Institute’s national president, says the City of Vancouver’s heritage advisory panel is doing a fantastic job of providing an inventory of heritage buildings and encouraging developers to maintain and recycle them. 

“All you have to do is drive through Yaletown and Gastown and wait to see what happens on the Downtown East Side,” says McAllister. “There is a huge amount of acquisitions going on down there right now and that whole area, all of those heritage buildings, will be re-claimed and re-formed and will be fantastic contributors to the overall community.” 

He adds there is massive developer appeal because heritage-building redevelopers know the market and the costs involved. 

But McAllister, also president and CEO of Vancouver-based Ledingham McAllister, a residential, industrial, office and commercial developer, says heritage building redevelopment is not for everyone. “It really is a very segregated market to a very specialized group,” he says. 

Robert Fung of the Vancouver-based Salient Group and Rick Ilich of Richmond-based Townline Homes Inc., are two developers who are taking the specialization test. 

They are both active in the Crosstown neighbourhood, located on the downward sloping north end of Beatty Street – which is within walking distance of Woodward’s, Gastown, Chinatown, the city’s entertainment district and the downtown waterfront. 

“It’s kind of personality-driven,” says Fung about developers’ willingness to specialize in heritage buildings. “I really like these buildings and what they have the potential do in their neighbourhood.” 

He says heritage building redevelopment has become a specialized field because large development companies tend not to get involved with older structures. With a heritage building, he says, construction costs are less predictable because unforeseen issues can emerge during construction, while a brand new building’s costs can be confirmed once a developer signs contracts with builders. 

The planning and construction processes also take longer and developers have to be more “hands-on.” 

As a result, many developers stop working with heritage buildings after one or two projects. 

Heritage redevelopment is highly specialized because it is very different from conventional development, adds city planner Beasley. 

Developers must deal with land uses, height restrictions and other factors that don’t apply to new buildings. 

Fung says the City of Vancouver is the leading jurisdiction in Canada when it comes to providing incentives for redeveloping heritage buildings, and it’s very difficult to work in other municipalities – that’s why Salient works primarily in Vancouver. 

In addition to the Bowman Block, Salient is redeveloping five buildings in three separate projects, including Terminus and Gaolers Mews along Water Street in Gastown; the Flack and Paris buildings on Hastings Street; and the Trapp building, which housed the former Army and Navy department store – and has been vacant for 31 years – at 668 Columbia Street in New Westminster. 

The Trapp site, formerly owned by a family that Fung declined to identify, will contain approximately 75 condos and 10,000 sq. ft. of commercial space.

Other downtown heritage redevelopment projects include the Jameson House in the 800 block of West Hastings Street, which involves preserving the Ceperley Rounsfell building built in 1921; and retaining the façade of the 1929-era Chamber of Mines building. A new tower will also be built with 10 storeys of commercial space, including shops and a restaurant, and 25 storeys of apartments with underground parking. 

One project just off downtown is the Shaughnessy Mansions redevelopment, at West 15th Avenue and Granville Street, which includes 36 luxury condos. 

Fung says there are many heritage buildings that have the potential to be redeveloped, but several buildings have reached the point where they can’t be refurbished – either because of past criminal activity or the way they were built in the first place. 

Several other family-owned properties have been stalled because their owners have not invested in their redevelopment, and Fung questions how long they can remain vacant before developers prefer to build brand-new buildings instead. 


(Monte Stewart can be reached at

Salient purchases the 1902 Trapp Block

August 5th, 2005

New West News Leader – Salient purchases the 1902 Trapp Block in New West for loft conversion

Download the article here (875KB Acrobat .pdf file)