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Cheakamus Crossing project wrapping up

Occupancy permits granted or pending for 60 per cent of units



Work is progressing quickly on the athletes' village housing at Cheakamus Crossing, according to Whistler Development Corporation president Joe Redmond, with up to 450 workers on site each day to complete the project.

According to Redmond, roughly 60 units are complete with occupancy permits in place - enough to house 25 to 30 per cent of athletes. The WDC has applied for occupancy permits for other townhouse units and a couple of apartment buildings in the complex and they expect to have permits for roughly 80 per cent of units by the end of July. The remaining 20 per cent should be complete by the end of September.

"We were fortunate to get most of the buildings closed in prior to the start of last winter so we were able to continue work on the inside of almost all (of the units) during the winter months and come back and complete the outside of some buildings in the spring," said Redmond.

"You're always concerned when you have the framing and no roof sitting over the building in winter, so we made those roofs a priority."

Landscaping is also underway and almost complete at two of the development sites, Whitewater and River Bend.

"We're also beginning to do a lot of the common area landscaping on curbs and roadways, some walkways are being put in, and the extension of the Valley Trail. There are only two or three projects where we haven't started the landscaping at this point," said Redmond.

WDC has also been preparing and servicing sites for roughly 60,000 square feet of temporary buildings that will be donated to housing projects around the province after the 2010 Games. The Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) is coordinating the delivery and setup of the buildings, which started to arrive in May.

The athletes' centre and athlete housing is also complete with the exception of some landscaping. VANOC workers will take over the athlete housing units in the near future in order to coordinate the site overlay, which will take six months to prepare.

Redmond expects the number of workers at the site to range between 400 and 450 through the summer, tapering off in August and September. By the end of October only a handful of supervisors will remain on site.

Once the Paralympics wrap up in March 2010, the WDC will bring in roughly 10 crews of up to 10 workers to convert units into residences. That requires removing temporary walls, installing kitchens and other services, converting garages from living space to utility space, touching up paint and generally making the units new again for the Whistler residents who take possession in the fall of 2010.

But before crews can convert the homes to residential use, VANOC crews will have to remove the overlay features. It's a huge job according to Redmond.

"They have to decommission everything, from beds to linens, to trailers, to commissary kitchens, to security buildings and whatnot. All of that has to come out between the end of the Paralympics and May, when we come in."

Redmond says all but nine of the employee-restricted housing units have been sold. The 20 market townhomes will not go on sale until after the Games, but nine private lots have been available for sale for less than two weeks. At least one offer has been made on the first lot and Redmond expects that there will be more offers once word gets out.

"The beauty of (the private lots) is that for a small deposit you can put a hold on the lot and get your drawings and approvals done so as soon as the Olympics are over you can make the final payment and start building," said Redmond.

The athletes' village will house up to 2,400 athletes, coaches, team technicians and other approved staff in 2010. It's not clear at this time how many actual athletes will be staying at the facility with some teams making their own arrangements to stay in Whistler.

VANOC is handling all accommodation requests and managing the facility and supporting buildings during the Olympics and Paralympic Games.

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