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Luxurious waterfront condos come complete with cutting edge art...in Nanaimo

Photos by Kris Krug

Most of us have thought about it.  Debated it, chewed at the idea and maybe even screamed it out loud.

It.  That moment, when, stuck in traffic, backlogged for miles with no end in sight,  the thought of leaving the city becomes so appealing it's almost overwhelming.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a city girl through and through.  But sometimes, just sometimes, the stifling crowds, exhaust fumes and screeching car horns make  me question just what exactly is so great about the so-called “greatest city on earth”?

 I’m not the only one.

Along with Twitter, vegan diets and too-hip-for-me dog boutiques,  an emerging generation of young professionals exist who see value in living outside the city.  These “work-tronauts” as I refer to them, often live in the outskirts of the city or in more rural communities, but commute on a daily basis to their jobs in the downtown core.

This shift, or dare I say, new reality, has taken place for a number of reasons. With real estate prices still on the rise, the ability to buy property in the city has for many, become nearly impossible.  That, coupled with the realization that the same $400,000 budget can get you a souped-up-closet in Gastown or a 2 story, 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, with acreage in Maple Ridge.

Observing this emerging demographic, and foreseeing the need for affordable city-like living experiences, Cape Construction, a Canadian-based development group, devised a plan to get Vancouverites interested in moving to Vancouver Island. 

The idea to build a contemporary condominium building arose as developers at Cape Construction began witnessing growth and revitalization in Nanaimo’s downtown core.  “Where strip clubs and pawn shops used to operate, now coffee shops, boutiques and cafes have taken over”, says Destination Nanaimo’s Chelsea Barr.  And according to BC Arts News, the arts are also experiencing growth in the area, as the number of business licenses for arts, entertainment and recreation in Nanaimo has increased 200% in the past ten years.

All this aside, I’ll be the first to admit, when I was asked to visit Nanaimo a few weeks ago, I had low expectations.  However, to my surprise, as the floatplane drifted into Nanaimo Harbour, I was taken aback at how crisp, clean and modern the waterfront community appeared.  

This was not the Nanaimo I remembered.

At the heart of the harbour, a modern, polished, almost arctic-white condo development caught my eye.  “Pacifica” as Cape Construction has fittingly named it, is one of the largest Canadian building renovations. It’s estimated to have cost $62 million.  What struck me were the dramatic terraces and the  proximity to the water. Located steps from the shores of the Nanaimo habour the development boast views that would rival anything in Coal Harbour.

Motivated by the emerging group of daily commuters or “work-tronauts”, Cape Construction decided to take it one step further.  Enter a revolutionary Turnkey Penthouse,  the stunning, ready-to-move-into Pacifica penthouse suite that will be sold complete with furnishing, house ware, appliances, not to mention – a one-of-a-kind art collection. 

When I inquired about the term “Turnkey”, I was told it is a real estate trend that until now has only existed in small communities like Whistler, Maui and even Las Vegas.   The term refers to a home that comes complete with furnishing, amenities, even your own television.  It's designed to be completely move-in-ready.

Making the turnkey option even more alluring, Cape Construction commissioned Vancouver-based artist Vince Dumoulin to create a collection or art, exclusive to this turnkey penthouse suite.  What’s interesting is Cape Construction hired Dumoulin, prior to furnishing, design and décor, in the hopes that he could craft a collection  that could  be used to inspire designers, builders and potential buyers. They hired him before the suite was even finished to help produce a sort of urban sanctuary through the art collection.

Urban sanctuary is exactly what Dumoulin pulled off.

“Noise is the number one pollution in so many of our lives”, says the artist, “my only goal here was to design an oasis or harbour that filters the noise, and can inspire genuine decompression”.  Valued at approximately $55,000, Dumoulin has successfully combined an array of disciplines, producing a unique selection of texture, sculptor, paint and even graffiti.

Today, the 1200 sq ft. penthouse suite is listed at $860,00, a cost that includes furniture, appliances, and art.    I’ve been told that Cape Construction is also offering Pacifica homebuyers one year of free flights with returns on Harbour Air (approximately 88 flights in total). 

After a weekend spent in this coastal community, taking in the mountain views, meeting people and eating more Nanaimo bars than I care to share, I am left with only one question: “Do floatplanes get stuck in rush hour?”

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