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Savvy Home Buyers Set Sights On Vancouver's Newest Transit Line

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Written by Stephanie MacDonald

SkyTrain's new extension out to Coquitlam brings growth and opportunity to the region.

It's been a long time coming, but the Evergreen Line is finally almost here. The tunnel is drilled, and the stations are coming to life with welcoming, open plazas. In early 2017, living in Burquitlam, Port Moody and Coquitlam will no longer necessitate a long commute or a costly Westcoast Express ticket. This has buyers running to snap up all the new homes that were recently put on the market by savvy developers who know the value of a home near a rapid transit line.

"The demand for any transit-oriented community is extremely high as metro Vancouver continues to grow and people spend more and more time stuck in traffic," says Chris Colbeck, vice president of sales and marketing at Townline, whose new project in Port Moody, The Strand, has experienced huge demand from buyers wanting to live near a new station. "The Evergreen Line is just blocks from our Strand community in Port Moody, and once complete, will provide our homeowners with a direct link to downtown Vancouver in only 40 minutes, and an even shorter commute to Douglas College at the end of the line in Coquitlam."

Eleven kilometres long, the Evergreen Line is the latest extension of the SkyTrain in Metro Vancouver. It will extend the SkyTrain network from Lougheed Town Centre in Burnaby to Lafarge Lake-Douglas in Coquitlam, with the addition of six new SkyTrain stations and major upgrades to two existing stations (Commercial-Broadway Station and Lougheed Town Centre).

Expected to begin taking passengers in early 2017, the line is projected to serve 70,000 passengers per day by 2021. The new extension will bring the entire SkyTrain track system up to 79.6 kilometres, becoming the longest fully grade-separated rapid transit system in Canada, and the longest fully automated rapid transit system in the world, surpassing the Dubai metro.

Port Moody-Coquitlam MLA Linda Reimer says, "Evergreen is a complex and innovative project bringing transit opportunities and spurring development along the line."

From Burnaby to Coquitlam the development has been fast and furious, sparked by the new transit line, but significantly promoted by the new transit-oriented zoning changes introduced in 2012. These changes supplemented existing neighbourhood plans to allow for more density and tall residential and mixed-use buildings within 400 metres of a SkyTrain station. Between 400 and 800 metres of a station, multi-family lowrises and townhome developments eventually taper off into single-family neighbourhoods farther away.

"The Evergreen Line will bring new opportunities for Burnaby transit users to move around the region," says MLA for Burnaby North Richard T. Lee. "I look forward to seeing the positive results of this project."

In terms of existing homes in the area, owners can expect a dramatic increase in the value of their property, depending on what type of property it is. For condo towers in the area, the price will go up about five per cent when a rapid transit station is built within a few blocks. For a single-family home that needs to be rezoned, the price will double. For a vacant lot that's already zoned for multiple families, the price increases about 25 per cent. For instance, the value of a single-family house has gone up from $720,000 in 2009 to $963,000 in 2015, according to Landcor Data Corp.

David Munro, Coquitlam's manager of economic development, said the Evergreen hubs are seeing an influx of offices, medical services, retail and restaurants.

"Multi-family communities situated around these new transportation hubs create residential-friendly communities where people can live, work and play, while resulting in shorter commutes, less dependency on cars and more time to enjoy a high quality of life," explains Chris Colbeck.

John Gilmour, Magusta Development's vice president of marketing and development says, "We have the Evergreen Line Burquitlam Station across the street, which is key to the success of our Burquitlam Capital mixed-use development, and for all other projects along the Evergreen Line route. The line is really opening up the whole North-East Metro area and we are seeing a lot of growth. Our purchasers prefer to be within convenient proximity to the station and any development within, say, 500 metres of a SkyTrain station is in the sweet spot."

Other exciting new residential projects along the Evergreen include Bosa's Uptown 1 and 2, as well as Lougheed Heights, Beedie's Crown at Burquitlam Station, Onni's Brookmere, Intracorp's Nelson on Foster and Shape Properties' huge new redevelopment of Lougheed Mall. Port Moody has The Strand by Townline, Spring Gardens by Bold Properties and many other projects in the works. Coquitlam is booming with Cressey's M One, Two, and Three, which are all sold out, Onni's 1123 Westwood, Intergulf's Grand Central 3, Polygon's The Lloyd and many more residential buildings, mixed-use developments, townhome and single-family communities.

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