Posts Tagged ‘Western Living Magazine’

Western Living Condo: Robert Fung – Character Builder

May 15th, 2007


Robert Fung – Character Builder
By Trevor Boddy
Spring/Summer 2007

It isn’t easy turning funky old buildings in sketchy neighbourhoods into fashionable condos. Just ask developer Robert Fung. 

Robert Fung has become Vancouver’s condo developer of the future by concentrating on the past.

As his fellow real estate tycoons paid ever-higher prices for land to build condo towers downtown and at SkyTrain hubs, Fung followed another path – riskier in someways, more rewarding in others. Confounding conventional wisdom, he purchased historic buildings all around Canada’s poorest and most drug-plagued urban neighbourhood. 

It wasn’t as if he didn’t know how to crank out high-rise condos. He had spent a decade working for other developers, mostly Concord Pacific. Vancouver’s largest developer had hired Fung straight from a B.A. in Anthropology at Western in 1990, though he admits there was a little family influence involved – father Robert Fung Sr. is a prominent Liberal and former CEO of Toronto’s Waterfront Development Corporation. Etobicoke-raised Fung learned how to put together skinny-tower-on-townhouse-base projects, get them approved at city hall, then preset those invisible, yet-to-be-constructed boxes in the air that are Vancouver’s condos-to-come. Eventually, though, this development formula became rote and the land price stakes too high for independent new players like him. 

From his perch at Concord Pacific, watching the brick warehouses of Yaletown get developed, Fung concluded that “Gastown could become what Yaletown did not want to be.” Now, walking around Vancouver’s rapidly changing Downtown Eastside, he is delighted with signs of renewal, such as Sean Heather and Scott Hawthorn’s Salt wine bar located next to a string of his properties along what used to be one of the city’s most troubled alleys. Admiring an old cornice here, sculpted window surrounds there, Fung has a story about nearly every building. He revels in the urban textures of the area. Given the success of his heritage building developments, he is obviously not alone. 

Some of Fung’s competitors grouse that he must have some pipeline to deep pockets in Toronto or Asia, but he demurs, explaining he had to sell his own house for seed capital when Salient Development started in 2000. By the start of this decade, Gastown’s harbourview cream along Water and Alexander Streets had been skimmed off by other developers, with the east-of-Main Edge project through to the Landing at Richards Street picked up by others or priced out of his reach.


Western Living Magazine: Suite Dreams

March 1st, 2006

Bowman Show Suite 1, pic 2

Western Living Magazine – Suite Dreams

Bowman Block – Everything old is new again in a Crosstown warehouse conversion.

[ BUY THE CONDO ] The Bowman Block, to be completed this fall, is one of the new generation of warehouse conversions in the Downtown Eastside. At 522 Beatty Street in the area now being called Crosstown, it was built in 1906, the first brick building on the block. Now the Salient Group is adding a couple of storeys, for a total of 11, and converting it to 38 lofts, a dozen of them double height. The six penthouse suites have private decks with outdoor fireplaces, and there’s also a communal roof deck with a gas fireplace, gas barbecue and mature trees. Insuite washer and dryer are standard, as are room dividers/TV cabinets (above) in some floor plans. Single-level suites range from 674 to 745 square feet, two-level from 1,147 to 1,285 square feet; $330,000 to $700,000.

[ STEAL THE LOOK ] Another Alda Pereira design, this suite is open plan because (a) it’s a loft and (b) it’s only 732 square feet. Pereira kept the space simple and pared down, aligning the kitchen along one wall to create more living space. Base cabinets are extra deep to provide more storage, allowing upper cabinets to be less- obtrusive open shelving. Cabinets with sliding doors at the back of the counter provide more storage, and a multipurpose stainless steel tabletop swivels on a leg with a caster to act as a bar in the living room or extra work space in the kitchen. A clever shelving unit that defines the bedroom area contains a now-you-see it-now you- don’t TV cabinet. The cable and wiring are on a pivot point so the TV can be rotated to face either the bedroom or the living room.



[ BUY THE CONDO ] The Salient Group, committed to making the Downtown Eastside the sort of heritage area we admire in other cities, has bought five adjacent buildings on Water Street in Gastown. The Terminus project involves converting two of them, the Terminus Hotel and Grand Hotel, into 46 stylish suites. The interiors of both were unsalvageable, but the bricks from the Grand Hotel will be reused and the facades will be restored, influencing the design of the interiors: bay windows on the Terminus side, arched ones on the other. The rooftop lounge will include a spacious deck, a water feature and a fireplace. To be completed in late 2007, sizes range from 619 to 1,619 square feet; $350,00 to $1.5 million (for the largest penthouse).

[ STEAL THE LOOK ]Instead of the standard boxy bathroom found in many condos, Terminus has taken a linear approach. The tub, shower, powder room and laundry are lined up along one wall. They are concealed behind frosted glass doors, which provide privacy while admitting light. The tub, sink and toilet are by Philippe Starck, and floors (throughout the suites) are ribbonlike walnut strand, made of slender strips of laminated wood.


Download the article here (540KB Acrobat .pdf file)