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Cheakamus Crossing is getting its bearings

"Gold" neighbourhood evolving as residents move in



Cheakamus Crossing is practically a ghost town on an early Friday afternoon. You might see two or three cars creep past on its narrow streets while strolling through the neighbourhood. Over half of the units are filled and yet, at 1 p.m., with the construction workers working machinery, one would swear this neighbourhood is void of life.

"I think there are two things that people forget about," said Whistler2020 Development Corporation (WDC) president Joe Redmond. "One is that it is new and it's going to take some time to mature."

Basically, it's going to take some time for the shops to open, for the fields to be completed, and all the trees lining the sidewalks to be planted so it looks like a polished, well-groomed neighbourhood.

But that's only part of it.

"The most important thing is there is going to be 250 families here that, out of those, people are going to know like 150 of them right away. It's going to be really interesting," Redmond said.

Whistler has playing under its very nose a unique social experiment, the likes of which the town has never seen before - and never mind the Asphalt Plant equation.

By next summer, Cheakamus Crossing should be in full bloom. So far, about 120 units have closed as of last week and most of the owners have moved in or will be moving in. The WDC has another 100 units to close and all homeowners should be settled in by mid-November.

About 35 of 55 units in the Whistler Housing Authority rental building have been rented out, and the remainder should be filled by the end of the year. Already the hostel is experiencing solid bookings.

The $161-million athletes' village was praised by the Globe and Mail in its Oct. 9 review of all Olympic projects, giving Cheakamus Crossing a "Gold," for its functionality as an athletes' village. It has about one-third of the units in the Vancouver athletes' village but housed the same number of athletes during the Games. Now it's being turned into a successful affordable housing program for Whistler residents.

(Vancouver's athletes' village earned a bronze due to its financial woes.)

The RMOW has $25 million left to pay on its $100 million loan, which due in November 2011. That will be paid off by the market inventory making up the River Bend complex.

The Globe and Mail suggested that the RMOW may have to carry the $25-million debt past their November 2011 due date but Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed expressed no concern that this would be the case.

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