Vancouvers Olympic Ghost Town

Our vacant Olympic Village is in the news again and the headlines are growing more negative: Vancouver taxpayers of hook for $1 billion as most Olympic Village units unsold.

Sixty-six per cent of Vancouver’s pricey Olympic Village condos remain unsold — a total of 483 units at the massive False Creek development that served as athletes’ housing during the two-week 2010 Games.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, whose city remains on the hook for more than $1.03 billion of the cost of the project, predicts it will take a “full two-year term” to sell the remaining units.

“There is some concern we’re going into another [economic] dip,” Robertson said last week. “[But] I have full confidence in the developer and the marketing taking place.

“I hope the market kicks in and they get sold. I’d like to see it fill up sooner rather than later.”

A spokeswoman for condo king Bob Rennie, who is handling the sales, said Tuesday a major marketing campaign will begin later this month for the unsold units.

“Incentives are yet to be determined, but they could include things like free washers and dryers,” she told The Province.

That’s like getting two square feet for absolutely free! .. and every square foot counts when you’ve got kitchen counters like this.

Meanwhile, lawyer Bryan Baynham said she has 11 clients who want to get deposits back on 13 suites in the village.

Have you tried offering them more washers and dryers?

Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs said the city is trying its best to maximize the return on taxpayers’ massive pre-Olympics bailout of the project.

“It’s too early to say how we’ve succeeded, and a lot depends on the pace of sales,” he said. “It shouldn’t come as a shock to anybody that the risk remains.

“I have no doubt that, down the road, this will be seen as a successful project ­— but we’re in strange economic times.”


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I cycled by there a couple of weeks ago. It is very odd. It's partly the lack of people; it is like a ghost town. However, the buildings themselves are also surprisingly dull: almost Soviet-like, as a previous poster notes. The developers' bravado in trying to sell these little boxes in a pretty uninteresting location for premium prices is just another signpost of the end of the real estate boom. I have a small, barely-usable kitchen in the place I'm renting (in a new building in Gastown.) The one in the picture linked from the original post is about 2/3 the size of mine. It's only technically a "kitchen." There's really no space for preparing a meal, let alone storing oh, say, DISHES AND FOOD. Suitable only for reheating take-out leftovers. Pathetic. And they expect people will pay Manhattan prices… Read more »

matrix boy

ha! say goodbye to your job at mcdonalds supra


Olympic Village is one of the ugliest apartment complexes around. Anyone who disagrees is in dire need of an eye exame or a trip to the pyschiatrists couch. If dark walls of brown brick with puke green plastic facades and slits for windows resembling a russian gulag prison is your thing than go for it. For entertainment you can stare at your neighbors walls all starting at only close to half a million. Eat your meals on the floor in the spacious 500 square foot "room". I have a couple of friends that worked on this rush job and the stories I heard didn't inspire confidence in the workmanship. The people are finally starting to wake up though, no amount of washer/dryer stacks are going to make up for cramped cages that a person has to work themselves to death… Read more »


"Fwiiw It is a well known fact within the immigrant community"

How do I get in on the "community" facts?

"those who need to work to survive head towards Toronto and other provinces."

Does this only apply to immigrants?


@scullboy: Fwiiw It is a well known fact within the immigrant community that those who need to work to survive head towards Toronto and other provinces. Only those who do not need to work to survive reside in Vancouver.

Just because I told you this does not mean that I'm a troll. If we all are better informed, we would have seen it coming as early as 2003 (read HonkyTonkMan's posts in RET), and not 6-7 years later and after C$1.6B flushed in to Vancouver through underground money transfers.


@ Peter Pan re. Ian Watt listing

This is just "staged" to make it look like it is a distressed asset sale at a rock bottom price (which it isn't). Nice try though (he forgot to mess up all those nice designer baskets which are nicely arranged above all the cabinets). Overall, an interesting strategy given that serious buyers aren't falling for all that glossy, superficial "show home" style staging anymore, nor are they interested in buying someone else's flip at a premium to the market.

A Non Mouse


"Yup, that is how things like this always play out. Not only will they wind up selling at the market bottom, they’ll sell at a distressed price to friends and associates through some back door deal and completely shut everyone else out."

Good! Let their friends and associates suffer the consequences of shoddy worksmanship and rushed construction in the coming years.


Anon: Supra's point wasn't lost on me, it's just irrelevant. Asia's a big place and there are lots of people in Asian cities. How exactly is this relevant to Vancouver's real estate prices? Any Vancouverite who thinks high rolling Chinese (which is what Supra really means, not "asians") are all pouring into Vancouver really ought to take a trip east to Toronto. There are *far* more Asians pouring into Toronto then Vancouver, and frankly TO is where the real high rollers go, because Toronto is the cultural and financial hub of the nation. Personally I really hate Toronto, so don't go thinking I'm a fan. The fact remains that it's the center of the country and it's by far the most important city as far as finance goes. Vancouver is a pokey little backwater in comparison, and the Asians that… Read more »


@ scullboy September 9th, 2010 at 5:31 am Yeah, "Asia" is a continent. I think that is what supra's point was. There are something like 200 cities +/- in China with pop greater than 1M and apparently some of them prefer to live in Gr Vanc for whatever reason. BTW, I heard India is pretty big too, but I`ll leave that for another day. The Cdn born asians don`t even factor into this equation. Your narrow minded comments (ie. asians only live in Rmd…LOL) suggest you don`t even live in Vanc or Richmond for that matter and probably think Panda Express is real, authentic Chinese cuisine. Get out, open your eyes, take a look around. The Chinese food in Vanc is easily the best in N. America and maybe the world (esp when you consider the price). So, why aren`t… Read more »


@ realpaul

The real kicker in my mind is the impact of PAYING all this debt.

For years, a guy making $10 was spending $11 of it. Now this same guy only has $8.50, as he has to pay back every dollar borrowed, plus the interest! Consumer spending is in for a rough ride.

Thoughts on the HBP TSX 60 Bear Plus ETF?



" When was the last time you stepped foot into Asia? Why don’t you go there, plant your ass in the middle of the city, and see what’s going on?"

Ummmmmm…… dude?

Asia's a continent.

"Asians = Haves, Vancouverite Renters = Havenots"

And *that* is the attitude I crossed a continent to leave.

Assuming you're right, *why* aren't the OV units flying out the door? No Supra, most of the Asians on the West Coast live in Richmond and are eating badly cooked dim sum. Most of the Asians under 30 I know are still living in their parent's basements and leasing BMWs. Toronto's Asian population considers Vancouver's Asians to be about half a run above those Tamil boat people that turned up a couple of weeks ago.

Clearly you know very little about Canadian born Asians.

Just sayin'.


@patriotz: @patriotz:

So who's paying the interest on the $750 million loan and who paid the $100 million out for affordable housing? Tinkerbell?

And maybe we can stop calling continuous multi million dollar subsidies for housing 'affordable' because from the state of vancouvers finances they clearly are not.


@fixie guy:

As a really successful business owner you’ld be pitching the concept to the clowns at Cambie and 12th.

“Not one taxpayer has paid one dollar for the Olympic village,” (Sam Sullivan) said. “And they never will.”

So there.


Real Estate excess has led to debt excess…Gart comes through again..I can't for the life of me figure out why Garths column isn't syndicated in what passes for main stream media in Canada…hmmmmmm "As Derek notes, relative to what families earn, mortgage payments have doubled in the last decade or so, and this gorging continues. Over the summer, for example, household credit was mushrooming at a rate of 7.1% – when inflation was less than 2%, and wage gains were 0%. The one overwhelming reason for this was exactly the same as in the USA circa 2005 – ridiculous mortgages to finance absurd real estate. In fact we now have so much debt that we save next to nothing. Mortgages account for close to 70% of this sea of borrowed money – and this is dangerous to everybody for two… Read more »


and listings are going down?? Listings for condos in Van West are up 45%

and this is just the 2nd week of Sept.

(SEPT) Van West Condo listing Inventory

1994 = 1604

1995 = 1437

1996 = 2164

1997 = 2182

1998 = 2065

1999 = 1929

2000 = 1744

2001 = 1381

2002 = 1406

2003 = 1323

2004 = 1747

2005 = 1107

2006 = 1334

2007 = 1191

2008 = 2446

2009 = 1385

2010 = 2019 listings up 45% ***Sept 7

fixie guy

"You people think property prices are propped up by locals. The locals are busy propping up Port Moody and Mission while the big players work on Vancouver West."

Well, that is a spot of good news. It won't be locals getting fucked when the market turns. Spend, baby, spend.

Bear Patrol

@Supraboy: Keep living in van west glass house. Even dumb dumb like me know price set at margin. Lazy hick from Mission closer than westsider want admit.



If they don't come here to buy properties, name a better place for them to go. If you lived in China, you'd take Vancouver over Shanghai/Beijing/Guangzhou any day of the week.


: “Most Vancouverites seem to be only dimly aware of the rest of the world.”

I think most Vancouverites are from Asia so they know more about the world than you do. When was the last time you stepped foot into Asia? Why don't you go there, plant your ass in the middle of the city, and see what's going on? Unemployment rate in Hong Kong is under 4% and money will continue to funnel into Vancouver. Asians = Haves, Vancouverite Renters = Havenots.

You people think property prices are propped up by locals. The locals are busy propping up Port Moody and Mission while the big players work on Vancouver West.

Best place on meth


That photo was taken just 4 hours after the guy moved in.

Poor OV, can't sell 'em, can't rent 'em. LEEDS Schmeeds.…


I don't k@pedobear:

I don't know why that OV tenant is complaining. From the Obama shirt he's sporting you would think billion dollar boondoggles would be a feature, not a bug.

fixie guy

Yalie Says " As a business owner, I would be out of business in a heartbeat if I overspent so spectacularly."

As a really successful business owner you'ld be pitching the concept to the clowns at Cambie and 12th.


The picture of this olympic village suite is in the beginning stages of becoming an Ian Watt listing:

Best place on meth

@Peter Pan:

I guess they weren't able to clean the place up since the vacuum is buried under clothes.

I just caught a glimpse of it in the shot that comes right after the beer cans.

Peter Pan