For some, the upcoming Redbridge development will seem like another of the many fast and furious residential developments sprouting up in town like flowers — or mushrooms, depending on your stance on the current pace of development — but it has been in the works since long before Squamish was a 'destination."
Redbridge will ultimately include 435 units — one, two and three-bedroom condos and townhouses.
The first units are estimated to be complete by the summer of 2024.
The project is split into north and south developments, and late last year received the nod from Squamish council to start the southern side.
That area will have four mixed-use buildings, consisting of 317 residential units and 929 square metres (10,000 square feet) of commercial space.
The finished project will include a four-metre wide pedestrian bridge over the Mamquam Blind Channel that will connect Valleycliffe residents to Rose Park Trail and downtown.
The Chief caught up with the project's developer Lorne Segal, president of Kingswood Properties, who is also a director with the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade.
What follows is an edited version of that hour-long conversation.
Q: You have been planning Redbridge in Squamish since about 2005, but it is just coming to fruition now. Why now and not before?
A: When I started this journey, I was on my way to Whistler, like everyone else, driving past and I pulled off one day and thought maybe there was an opportunity here.
It has been a non-stop journey. It hasn't been the easiest thing to get the project approved. It has gone through several iterations, so really, its time has come. It hasn't been put on the shelf — I guess there was a period of time when the whole world was at a standstill in 2008 during the [financial] crisis — we just kept plowing through, expanding, acquiring additional land.
And here we are.
Q: Squamish has changed a lot since you started this project. Our highway is becoming clogged to the point that locals don't go anywhere on your average summer weekend. There's a lot of backlash against new projects. Many locals don't want more folks living here and driving back and forth to the city. What do you say about that?
A: I think with this project and SEAandSKY, which we are partners on, I am personally excited about the new generations of entrepreneurs who are going to come to Squamish.
When you look at the people who will be living in Redbridge alone, they will need services; they will need new restaurants. There may be some people who commute, but I think they are going to be saying to themselves, "This is how I am going to start, but how am I going to figure out how to start a new chapter, or maybe start a business here and actually live and work where I like to play?"
I can also say that there's been a steady flow of local people from Valleycliffe and Hospital Hill — some people who are renting and looking at first-time homeownership, and folks looking to downsize — who are interested in Redbridge.
Q: What are the price points for these? Because another local issue is affordability?
A: I don't have that at my fingertips. I can tell you that this is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It is a legacy project. I don't need to maximize the profit.
During these times when you have the cost of lumber skyrocketing, you have to figure that out and hope you will be OK in the end.
[The company later said it was not able to give a price range for units at this stage.]
Q: You have so much experience in this realm, though, so maybe looking at the economy of Squamish, what do you think it is going to take to have that mix of housing for everyone, or are we just going to be a resort-type, rich person playground?
A: I don't think so. This is appealing to a wide range of individuals, from first-time buyers to move-up buyers to downsizers.
We are trying to produce the most affordable project with the maximum value.
If we are looking at Squamish related to Surrey or Burnaby, it is getting close to almost half the price. You could be living in a tower in those places and playing 50% more, and what would the quality of life be?
Squamish is kind of like an emerging market.
When we first started, the highway was coming, and the Olympics was coming. It was all based on the future.
I think it will now be a creative centre and another layer of entrepreneurship, again with that flexibility of being able to work more remotely.
A lot of growing pains as I see it, but also, it is really kind of the beginning.
I think it is kind of a new frontier and really hasn't seen its day, and I am talking about controlled, quality, growth.
I think there is going to be some pretty exciting stuff coming down the line.
Q: The development will have its own sort of social media app, you were saying. Is the idea of creating a community within a community why there is 1,858 square metres (20, 000 square feet) of amenities?
A: You kind of have a personal list of what you want. I am plugged into a lot of health-related things — what is out there that might improve the quality of life, so I tried to incorporate the things I am familiar with.
Base Camp is a collection of body, mind, and soul features. Not just a nice place to live, but all the kinds of things that go into happiness and living well.
Take our gym — the Eco-Movement Lab. It is called that because it is filled with specialized machinery that will channel human energy into power.
It is my understanding this is the first zero-footprint facility like this in Canada.
There is the Flow Space for yoga, The Great Room for socializing, a pet spa and Co-Creative Space, a communal workspace.
Find out more about the development at redbridgesquamish.com.
~With files from Steven Chua