Expensive tastes: Where the ultra-wealthy rest their heads in B.C.

Luxury properties come with the works, and the works cost a small fortune

Chip Wilson's home, 3085 Point Grey Road in Vancouver

Part of BIV’s What big money buys series: Wealthy Vancouverites are lavishing untold amounts of money on big-ticket indulgences, driving a bonanza for the region’s dealers in luxury furnishings, vehicles, yachts and other top-tier toys.

Whether they buy them or build them, the properties bankrolled by ultra-wealthy buyers boast views and amenities as spectacular as their price tags.

“People who are wealthy tend to follow each other around the world,” said Calvin Lindberg, managing broker at Angell Hasman & Associates – the top luxury real estate agency in Vancouver. “Certain places in the world come up on the radar, and West Vancouver is definitely one of them.”

Single-family homes with coveted postal codes in West Vancouver, Point Grey, Kitsilano and Shaughnessy are among the most expensive residential properties in the province – and Canada – with eight-figure property assessments of up to nearly $80 million.

Some penthouses in the city – with private garages, swimming pools and concierge service – have valuations that stretch into the tens of millions.

The most expensive apartment on BC Assessment’s 2018 list is the largest penthouse in Coal Harbour. It’s more than 8,000 square feet and has two rooftop terraces and a private seven-car garage. The Three Habour Green unit is assessed at more than $32 million and was listed for sale two years ago for more than $58.9 million.

The next most expensive unit sits atop Vancouver’s tallest tower. Valued at more than $21.6 million, the more than 4,300-square-foot penthouse on the 61st floor of the Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver has a 3,000-square-foot terrace, full-length swimming pool, poolside multi-purpose space and private guest suite. A valet is included with the private garage.

They buy them

According to Lindberg, wealthy buyers looking at West Vancouver real estate often also consider buying a condo in the city and a multimillion-dollar recreation property in Whistler.

“It happens all the time,” he said. “Those kinds of people, they tend to own a number of places – very expensive homes around the world really.”

Several years ago, he said, his firm sold a downtown Vancouver penthouse and sub-penthouse to a prince from the United Arab Emirates – long-rumoured to be the crown prince of Dubai – in a $50 million deal.

“He was flying to Colorado, I think, with his pals to go skiing. There was no snow,” said Lindberg. “They flew into Vancouver, and they said: ‘Why don’t you show us some property?

“We ended up selling the penthouse and one place underneath for, I guess, the entourage … for $50 million. And it was just a kid, a prince coming into town and wasn’t even supposed to be here.”

They build them

Lululemon Athletica Inc. (Nasdaq:LULU) founder Chip Wilson’s Point Grey home has topped BC Assessment’s list of the most expensive residential properties in B.C. for five consecutive years.

The home, which has an assessed value of $78.8 million, courted significant attention during its construction, as has the controversial 450-square-metre dock that juts out from his family’s Sunshine Coast property.

“People with money are very, very smart usually, and they’re pretty fussy,” said Bruce Langereis, president of Delta Land Development Ltd., the developer behind the Private Residences at Hotel Georgia.

Langereis lives in one of the residences with access to the Hotel Georgia’s suite of amenities, where tenants can have concierge deliver a roast chicken to their door if they forgot to prepare one for their dinner party.

It’s the experience of a building, and building a “beautiful culture” within it, that are the keys to a successful luxury development.

So too are the common-sense details that take considerable foresight and planning: garbage, recycling and composting bins on every floor; nicely designed garbage cans on each floor of the building’s seven-level underground; a seamless transition between a suite’s interior and its patio.

“I would open a patio door and I would say: ‘Look at this fantastic detail,’ and they’d go: ‘What?’” Langereis said, laughing. “It’s what you don’t see. There’s no big curb you have to step over to get out on the balcony.

“The fact that it’s not there is a luxury.”

They bank them

Lindberg said that when the Grosvenor Group’s Grosvenor Ambleside project in West Vancouver began selling at $2,000 per square foot, nobody thought the terraced waterfront homes would sell.

But they did – every single one.

“We just had an assignment sell for a million dollars more than what they paid for it,” he said.

The benchmark price for a single-family home in West Vancouver was nearly $3 million this June, up 25% over the last three years and up 78% over the last decade.

“That’s the kind of thing that goes on with high-end properties,” Lindberg said.