As Phoenix Mark II continues to rise from the ashes, the
project’s biggest hurdle may be getting local businesses to sign up for the
latest version of the temporary housing complex.
As of earlier this week, only 17 per cent of the 300 bedrooms
have been snagged, although several bigger companies — like hotels
— need to get approval from their boards of directors before submitting
Many of the 45 businesses involved in Phoenix I have found
accommodation for their employees this winter. Among those not interested are
the original project’s two biggest participants: Whistler-Blackcomb and Gibbons
Hospitality Group. About 500 beds were requested in Phoenix I before former
supplier, SG Blocks, announced they were $3 million short.
“We have to find a way to overcome the skepticism that the
first group created,” said Alvaro Ponce de Leon, a non-registered architect who
is driving the Phoenix II project forward.
“The money can be found, that is not the issue anymore. The
issue now is whether we are going to lease the 300 beds or not.”
According to Ponce de Leon, his group has already gotten offers
from private investors. They are also in ongoing discussions with several
“We mean business. We are not going to bail out like the
American group,” said Ponce de Leon, referring to SG Blocks.
The Phoenix II group started contacting local businesses last
Beds will rent for $700 a month, and a deposit of three months
rent is required. Priority will go to businesses involved in Phoenix I. Also,
businesses are being asked to sign up for five beds; at the very least,
business owners need to sign up for two beds and find a partner.
Units are expected to be up either in January or February of
2009, and removed from the Whistler Racquet Club site by July 1, 2010. Leases
will run only until April 1, 2010.
In the e-mail to business owners John Jervis — who is currently
president of the Phoenix Housing Corporation, although the entity is being
disbanded — wrote: “I will point out that the application for
construction financing is still in process, and even though it is looking
positive, the current banking climate provides no predictable degree of
In an interview with
this week, Jervis stressed that he does not plan to put the employee housing
units on the open market, although technically that is possible.