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A village in the heart of a city

Short list of developers launches City of Vancouver on path to athletes village



With a short-list of developers drawn up and site-preparation underway the City of Vancouver is well on its way to providing its athletes village for the 2010 Winter Games.

Like Whistler it has faced challenges in incorporating sustainable goals within the plans and the tight timeline has had planners at their desks late into the night, but so far the project is on track to be completed in 2009 as promised.

"We are on a schedule that just doesn’t bend," said Jody Andrews, project manager for the Southeast False Creek and Olympic Village project for the City of Vancouver.

"And we have set very high sustainability objectives and that is certainly a challenge for us and the design team and it will certainly be a challenge for the developer as well just to change so much while building."

The village will be built on city-owned land in southeast False Creek. It will be the first phase of a wide-ranging development that will see up to 15,000 people live in the general area in the next 20 years.

The village will offer cafes, hairdressers, a gym, a movie theatre, and even a convenience store – everything the 3,000 athletes and officials could need to survive without leaving the area.

But the unique site of the Vancouver athletes village, smack dab in the middle of downtown, will likely mean everyone housed there will head out and explore.

"It is right in the heart of the city, which is quite unusual for an Olympic Village," said Terry Wright, the Vancouver Organizing Committee’s senior vice president Olympic Planning. "And it is on the ocean in a very stunning setting so we begin with some huge pluses.

"My experience has been that the entertainment facilities in the village are more lightly used than you would expect because they actually want to get out into the city they are living in and this location is going to be quite amazing for that."

VANOC, which is contributing $30 million to the project, is yet to invite businesses to apply to provide village services but Wright doesn’t expect there will be any problem.

"There is always great interest," he said.

The Vancouver athletes village will be built on land that has been used by industry for over 100 years. The development, which is embracing sustainability at every level, promises to magically transform the area from a frightening Halloween pumpkin to a ball-gown community.

"The site itself is a brownfield site, quite contaminated," said Andrews. "It’s been used for industrial uses for the last century and the city wants to convert that to a healthy community that would house families and provide a wide range of accommodation, right from affordable housing to modest market housing to market range housing. It will be a showcase of a new model community and the Olympic village is really the first phase of that development."

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