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More market lots could ease athletes’ village budget

Scope of work, cost increases cause jump in budget



The construction budget at the athletes' village increased $20 million in the past year, in part due to increased costs but also due to an increased scope of work.

Construction costs are now $163 million but plans are underway to sell more serviced market lots, if needed, to break even.

"There's a number of factors that come into play with (an increased budget)," explained Joe Redmond, president of the Whistler 2020 Development Corporation (WDC).

He estimated roughly $8 million is the result of higher costs to service the site for things like roads and sewer.

Another $12 million can be attributed to more work being done, some at the request of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the Games (VANOC). Other necessary work came to light only after the final designs were refined. For example, the number of bus shelters increased by the final design.

"We didn't plan on some of that," said Redmond.

The WDC has also factored into its budget so-called "recoverable work," work the company will pay for upfront and then get paid back.

For example, VANOC asked for more cleared space and an extended road for their temporary facilities at the site. That $3 million in extra costs will flow back into the WDC coffers from VANOC. Similarly, the municipality will pay $1.6 million for a portion of the water system that connects to the community's main water system.

The WDC also made the decision to increase the finishing work on the market townhouses.

"We've upgraded them a little bit," said Redmond, adding that they thought it was appropriate to offer a higher level of finishing in those homes.

The 20 market townhouses are expected to sell for $800,000 to $900,000, or almost double the cost of the price-restricted units of a similar size in the neighbourhood.

Originally, the market townhouses were set to go on sale this year. Due to concern about the soft real estate market, those units will not be offered until after the Games, in the hopes that the market will have turned around by then.

Nine serviced market lots are already going through the municipality for subdivision approval. Those are expected to sell for between $500,000 to $600,000 each.

That market component is expected to generate $21 million.

But up to a total of 22 single-family market lots could be for sale, should the WDC need it.

"If we need to we can sell those lots," said Redmond.

"The RMOW has a unique opportunity here. They can offset costs by adding some market facilities."

The WDC is a non-profit wholly owned subsidiary of the resort municipality. If there are any profits on the balance sheet at the end of the development, the money would likely flow into employee restricted housing or be used to offset the drop in hotel tax. The municipality is funding $8 million of the project through hotel tax.