The best of real estate in Vancouver? Here are a few picks for 2016

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      The best things in life aren’t always free—particularly when it comes to real estate. Over the past year, there’s been a blizzard of headlines decrying rapidly rising prices, tenants’ woes, and regulatory shortcomings. This week, we’ll take a break from all that and focus on some highlights.

      Best new transit-oriented neighbourhood in Vancouver

      Marine Landing

      Twenty-five years ago, who could have guessed that the southern foot of Cambie Street would become one of the hot real-estate plays in town? The very idea of this would have prompted belly laughs from many Vancouverites.

      But thanks to the Cambie Corridor Plan, Marine Landing has emerged as a walkable and high-density area. Anchored by Marine Drive Station and a bus exchange for the 3, 10, 15, 17, and 100 bus lines, the area is home to a spanking-new 11-screen multiplex, T & T Supermarket, three banks, Dublin Crossing Irish pub, Winners, Starbucks, a liquor store, Shoppers Drug Mart, Steve Nash Fitness World and Sports Club, and restaurants. It’s worth checking out.

      Best attempt to rebrand the image of developers

      Westbank’s Ian Gillespie offered Syrian refugees temporary use of a 12-unit building in the West End. For free.

      Vancouver House will be the city's signature building on the southern end of the Granville Bridge.
      Westbank Corporation

      Best curvy new building

      Westbank wins again with Vancouver House, a gold tower near the north end of the Granville Street Bridge. Scheduled to open in 2018, it was designed by Danish starchitect Bjarke Ingels.

      Best downtown building for fans of cantilevers

      For now, Telus Garden is the clear winner, thanks to its two four-storey cantilevers over Richards and Seymour streets. But if city council approves a rezoning application for 1500 West Georgia Street, it will face some competition. That’s because German architect Ole Scheeren has designed a 43-storey tower with some higher floors extending out in different directions, giving it a Lego feel. It’s weird and controversial, but didn’t they say the same thing about the Moshe Safdie design for the Vancouver Public Library in the early 1990s?

      Architect Ole Scheeren has designed an unusual-looking building for 1500 West Georgia Street

      Best privately initiated nonprofit social housing

      Oakridge Lutheran Church redevelopment

      Instead of condos, Oakridge Lutheran Church will build homes to be rented at below-market rates as part of its redevelopment project. It is working with the Catalyst Developments Society, a nonprofit real-estate developer, to replace its current one-storey church at 585 West 41st Avenue with a six-level building. The development will have retail on the ground floor, a new church on the second level, and 46 rental homes on the upper floors. Oakridge Lutheran and Catalyst will operate the social-housing units without federal and provincial subsidies.

      Onni plans a dramatic transformation of the area around Gilmore Station.

      Best master plan in the suburbs

      Gilmore Station

      When people are asked about the hippest areas in the region, nobody answers “Gilmore Station”. But stay tuned. Onni Development is planning a major metamorphosis thanks to a visionary conceptual master plan approved late last year by Burnaby city council. It will include five precincts and will feature a high street, a commercial area, several high-rises, an enlarged transit plaza, retail space, and plenty of open space for mingling and coffee-swilling. It’s a serious attempt to bring employment to Burnaby, with up to 500,000 square feet of retail and possibly one million square feet of office space being built.

      Best newsletter to learn about the apartment market

      The Goodman Report

      There’s a reason the Goodman Report has become a must-read for Vancouver business journalists. It’s because the father-and-son duo of David and Mark Goodman regularly deliver deep and original insights into the state of the local apartment market. Sure, the Goodmans tout their own listings in the publication. That’s to be expected from anyone who’s in the business of selling buildings. But what makes this newsletter better than others is the extent of information about the overall market, plus the clean, crisp writing.