Whistler2020 Development Corporation gets loan extension for athletes' village 

Cheakamus employee housing now sold out, interest picks up in market housing

Whistler has been given a two-year extension to pay back the balance left on the $100 million loan used to build the athletes' village.

Whistler 2020 Development Corp. (WDC) President Eric Martin confirmed the extension with the Municipal Finance Authority (MFA) this week. The agreement in principle gives the WDC some breathing room to come up with the roughly $13 million still outstanding on the loan.

And Martin is "cautiously optimistic" the WDC can do it.

"Obviously the fact we've paid back over $85 million out of $100 would make any lender happy," said Martin, who was in Whistler this week for a WDC board meeting.

The WDC, which is wholly owned by the municipality, took on the momentous task of building the $161 million athletes' village development for the 2010 Games. That housing was to turn into primarily employee housing as a legacy from the Olympics.

Originally due in November 2011, the WDC has not been able to meet its loan deadline because of the sluggish real estate market.

That is beginning to turn around.

The last two remaining resident restricted units, which have a capped resale value and must be sold to Whistler residents, are now sold.

The Whistler Housing Authority, which oversees and manages the employee housing, confirmed the final sales. There are 221 ownership units at Cheakamus Crossing, making it the biggest employee housing development in Whistler.

The bigger impact, however, to the WDC's bottom line is the sale of the market units in the neighbourhood.

Martin said two more market townhouses have sold recently, with an agreement on a third, bringing the total number to four sales out of 20 units called River Bend. Those units were discounted by about 15 per cent from the original anticipated selling price.

"We seem to be getting some traction at that price point," said Martin.

Of the nine bare market lots, two have sold with agreements on an additional four.

"There's some activity (in the market)," said Martin. "If we get our fair share, we'll be fine."

It helps, he added, that the neighbourhood is starting to fill in with park development and the new pub/restaurant set to open in the fall.

The WDC's audited financial statements were part of the 2010 Annual Report, presented to council this week.




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