It looks like all is not going according to plan in Surrey’s efforts to turn Whalley, a neighbourhood known for its crack dealers and methamphetamine users, into a new Yaletown. There was the massive fire that destroyed phase 2 of the Quattro development and then there was last weeks story about money trouble at Infinity, the largest housing project ever built in Surrey.
Surrey Mayor Diane Watts and Quattro developments principle Charan Sethi held a meeting with buyers this weekend to update them on the current situation. The uncertainly and delays in completing these large projects comes at a time when house and condo prices are declining adding more stress to buyers, some of whom are trying to get out of their presales contracts.
But Sethi disappointed buyers who hoped the development company would buy units back from investors who wanted out. He said that wasn’t an option. And he was unable to provide buyers with a solid timeline on move-in dates.
“We are desperate. We are homeless,” said buyer Carol Lobo, in an emotional confrontation with Sethi. “When can we move in?”
“Trust me,” said a smiling Sethi. “Give us another 10 days and we’ll have a better idea.” The answer wasn’t good enough for Lobo, who came to the meeting with her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter. “We don’t have anywhere to go.”
Lobo was looking for other answers as well. “What about damage from the water, will the condo be toxic? What about another fire, and security?”
Concerns about further delays or cancellation of these project is being dismissed by the developer and financial backers.
Greg Sprung, senior vice-president and regional general manager for Canadian Western Bank, reiterated the bank’s commitment to work with the developer. “We’ve been with the project from the beginning and we intend to stay with it until the end.”
However when The Vancouver Sun asked what might happen if future buyers lose confidence in the development, or in the face of continued declines in the real estate market, he was less reassuring.
“That’s something we would have to deal with at the time. We approve phase by phase. Projects do get put on hold due to market slowdowns. I don’t know anyone that would build something for which there is no demand.”