Is­land DREAMIN’

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Recreation & Investment Properties - KATHY MCCORMICK

He knows of what he speaks. When a real­tor with years of ex­pe­ri­ence buys into a de­vel­op­ment for his own use, other pur­chasers sit up and pay at­ten­tion, be­cause a real­tor knows a good thing when he sees it.

That’s why when John Mele of Re/Max Cen­tral in Cal­gary put his name down on the regis­tra­tion list for the chance to be one of the first to buy into a re­sort-style de­vel­op­ment on Van­cou­ver Is­land, the de­vel­oper was ex­cited.

“He knows the mar­ket and he knows the value of this project,” says David Steele — who is part­nered with Pat De­le­salle in the first stages of de­vel­op­ing 62 lux­ury beach­front homes and ameni­ties that will make up the re­sort-style com­mu­nity of Qualicum Land­ing. The de­ci­sion wasn’t a hard one, says Mele. “My wife and I have been go­ing out to the is­land for years and we’ve al­ways loved the area,” he says.

“Now, as we are get­ting older, we are think­ing we could en­joy hav­ing a place that we could use more fre­quently. The qual­ity of this de­vel­op­ment and its lo­ca­tion was at­trac­tive to us and fit into our life­style.”

When the boom busted, the recre­ation prop­er­ties’ mar­ket was af­fected as much as any­thing else.

While it’s a fact that tough times mean tight­en­ing pock­et­books and only keep­ing es­sen­tials, thus the down­turn in de­mand for prop­erty, it also means that the de­creased prices of real es­tate are at­trac­tive to those as­tute buy­ers who are looking for value.

There are plenty of peo­ple who want recre­ation prop­er­ties, says Steele.

“The de­mo­graph­ics alone ac­count for the con­tin­u­ing de­mand. Peo­ple know they want a place on the is­land and it’s a huge ben­e­fit that it will be ready for a later de­liv­ery.

“Prices are down now and they can take ad­van­tage of that be­cause they re­al­ize the value is there.”

Mele sees the mar­ket chang­ing, al­beit slowly. The real­tor has had recre­ation prop­erty in Scotts­dale, Ariz., for 15 year, in­clud­ing buy­ing other prop­er­ties there for in­vest­ment.

“Part of our life­style is to spend two and a half to three months ev­ery win­ter in Phoenix. It’s a high­light of the way we live.” He sees that as a grow­ing trend. “More and more peo­ple are in­cor­po­rat­ing the West Coast life­style into their plans as well as Phoenix,” says Mele.

“They are two dif­fer­ent things that of­fer so much to peo­ple. Peo­ple love the ex­pe­ri­ence of Phoenix in win­ter, but they also love the West Coast beauty with the dif­fer­ent sea­sons, the

back-to-na­ture en­vi­ron­ment and the wa­ter.

“And now is a good time to buy in any mar­ket with the sub­stan­tial price changes.” That’s why Steele, who has been in the real es­tate field for more than two decades de­vel­op­ing as many as 85 projects in the U.S. and Canada, is pumped on his lat­est ven­ture, de­spite the econ­omy.

“There’s not that much of a sup­ply of prop­er­ties for those buy­ers looking for qual­ity set­tings — and we are just now at the beginning of the boom of those older buy­ers who are looking to re­tire or semi-re­tire within the next five to 10 years. They’re looking for a place where they can do some work from home — a place that’s not too re­mote and a place that will hold its value. They’re looking for a place to even­tu­ally re­tire, but one they can use for recre­ation and get­aways now.”

In fact, says Mele, some peo­ple are choos­ing to down­size their homes in Cal­gary to live in­stead in a more mod­est con­do­minium — us­ing the eq­uity to buy not one, but two dif­fer­ent recre­ation prop­er­ties in the two dif­fer­ent mar­kets, each with its own at­trac­tive­ness.

“In­stead of hav­ing one big lux­ury house, we’re see­ing good prop­er­ties that are not so highly priced in a cou­ple of de­sir­able ar­eas, and that’s what peo­ple are buy­ing.”

Com­pet­i­tive prices are what sets Qualicum Land­ing apart, says Steele.

For their part, Steele and De­le­salle have re­duced prices of their exclusive water­front com­mu­nity by an av­er­age of $150,000 to $250,000 per unit.

“Qualicum Land­ing is ideal for those looking for a per­ma­nent res­i­dence or va­ca­tion home,” says Steele.

“Any way you look at it, it’s a great in­vest­ment op­por­tu­nity. This new price point means we as the de­vel­oper will be mak­ing con­sid­er­ably less money, but the prop­erty is primed and ready to go, so we feel pretty good about let­ting the prices ride.” And it is a bar­gain, he says.

“Fun­da­men­tally, it’s ev­ery­body’s dream to own a beach home and this is six hectares of land with 152 me­tres of walk-on water­front. You just don’t find that any­more any­where.

“And right now, there are not a lot of other com­pet­ing prop­er­ties with the kind of set­ting we have — but there is still an in­cred­i­ble amount of in­ter­est.”

“We have de­signed a re­tire­ment and va­ca­tion home, re­sort-style com­mu­nity with many ameni­ties, and we fully ex­pect 50 per cent of our buy­ers will come from Cal­gary.”

The com­plex — lo­cated in the heart of ocean­side coun­try on the east­ern side of the is­land eight min­utes north of Qualicum Beach — is a $35-mil­lion beach re­sort com­mu­nity.

It will fea­ture 62 stand-alone con­dos from 1,180 square feet to 2,000 square feet, some with garages and some with up to four bed­rooms.

The homes are ei­ther beach front, beach view, or lo­cated around the beach house and pool, and prices are from $399,000.

Constructi­on has al­ready started, with com­ple­tion of phase one, which in­cludes the club­house, an­tic­i­pated for the end of this year.

“The units have ev­ery­thing from gran­ite, stain­less steel and crown mould­ing to hard­wood floors, so there are few choices that need to be made,” says Steele. “Two fin­ish­ing pack­ages are avail­able.”

The ameni­ties — other than the spec­tac­u­lar 152 me­tres of ocean beach­front — in­clude not only the pool, but a huge grassed area with pic­nic ta­bles and a large fire pit.

There’s also a club­house with afit­ness fa­cil­ity, two hot tubs (one for the kids), a deck, and sports courts for ten­nis and bas­ket­ball.

“We’re looking at cre­at­ing a sanc­tu­ary area as well with a com­mu­nity veg­etable gar­den,” says Steele.

Res­i­dents will have ac­cess to five golf cour­ses, all within a 20minute drive of Qualicum Land­ing, and some of the best fish­ing on Van­cou­ver Is­land is right on the re­sort prop­erty’s doorstep at Fletcher Creek.

Se­lec­tion day is slated for June 27 on a first-reg­is­tered, firstchoic­e ba­sis. Reg­is­ter on­line at www.qualicum­land­ing.com.

Constructi­on is al­ready un­der­way, with com­ple­tion of the first phase and club­house es­ti­mated for De­cem­ber 2009.

Cour­tesy Peak Com­mu­ni­ca­tors

Top, David Steele, Qualicum Land­ing de­vel­oper. Above, an artist’s ren­der­ing of one of the units.

Cour­tesy Peak Com­mu­ni­ca­tors

The de­vel­op­ment is de­signed as a re­tire­ment/va­ca­tion, re­sort-style com­mu­nity, with about many ex­pected Cal­gary buy­ers.

Gavin Young, Cal­gary Her­ald

John Mele is a real­tor for Re/Max Cen­tral who has just signed up for the first release of a new re­sort project — Qualicum Land­ing — on Van­cou­ver Is­land.

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