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Whistlerites snag first market lots at athlete village

Sale of River Bend properties will help offset neighbourhood construction costs

Whistlerites aren't only buying the resident-restricted homes at Cheakamus Crossing.

Locals are also picking up the market units on sale in one of Whistler's newest neighbourhoods, according to the president of the Whistler 2020 Development Corporation, Joe Redmond.

Both of the two serviced single-family lots sold so far have gone to Whistler residents, said Redmond, along with the only market townhome sold. Deals on all three units in the athletes' village neighbourhood closed about four months ago.

"You have to remember that it is only people from Whistler that know about it," said Redmond. "No one else has been able to get on site."

Whistler Real Estate Company is selling the market townhomes and lots, which are all located in the River Bend area of Cheakamus Crossing.

Twenty townhomes are designed by AKA Architects and Design and listed for sale between $800,000 and $900,000.

Nine of a total 24 serviced lots are also on the market, priced between $450,000 and $550,000. The lots currently listed for sale are located on Madely Place.

But while the first three market units went to Whistlerites, that trend may not last.

Over the past month, the Whistler 2020 Development Corporation has started to ramp up advertising, and Redmond is starting to see interest from people living in Victoria and Seattle.

"We only marketed the townhomes and lots for a very brief time in October of last year, just before VANOC took exclusive use of the site," said Redmond.

"We really didn't advertise them very much at all. All we did was let people know they are available. We didn't do any advertising or promotions until just recently."

Revenue from the market housing has been earmarked to go towards the entire neighborhood's construction costs.

Redmond said there is about $17 million worth of market townhomes being sold. The serviced lots are expected to bring in about $16 million.

"I am expecting that probably 75 per cent of the townhomes will be sold by fall," he said. "And the lots will probably take a bit longer, because there is an awful lot of product on the market right now in Whistler. The lots will probably take until 2012."

Meanwhile, the asphalt plant situation has not hampered sales of the market units significantly, said Redmond.

Over the past six months, 24 potential buyers weren't able to close because "their situation had changed," he said. And another three people said they had a concern over the asphalt plant and decided not to close.

"I think that may in fact be an excuse," said Redmond. "It is a lot easier to say, 'I don't like the asphalt plant' then to say, 'I've lost my job and I can't afford it.' But I don't know about that for sure. I am guessing."

He said everyone right now is speculating on what the air quality will be like in the neighbourhood a year from now, but every indication is that people won't notice it at all.

"Certainly we haven't had any concerns about reselling them," said Redmond about the homes people have decided not to close on. "The homes that people said they couldn't close have all been sold again."