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Rainbow in race with Olympic village

Housing project must stick to development schedule or wait until athletes’ village units sold



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Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden filled the silence saying if Rainbow doesn’t deliver according to the schedule, the project will be delayed past the sale of the athletes’ village units — which could stretch until 2013.

“There aren’t enough people out there to put all of this product on the market at the same time,” she said. “We know we have to deliver the athletes’ village and we know that once the Olympics are done all of that product (will) come on the market. We can’t have the market non-existent because Rainbow’s come on late and filled the marketplace and supplied all the demand.”

There will be 250 housing units for sale in the athletes’ village after the 2010 Games.

The municipality established an independent organization called the Whistler 2020 Development Corporation to develop the $130 million athletes’ village/legacy neighbourhood in the Lower Cheakamus. The municipality is the sole shareholder of the corporation.

The mayor said there is a “very aggressive” business model for the absorption of the homes post-2010.

The development corporation expects to recover more than $80 million — and essentially break even — through the sale of the housing units. Ensuring there are buyers for those units is a critical piece of the business plan.

It states: “One of the biggest financial risks of the project appears to be the sale of up to 251 residential units over a (two) year period, in a market that has historically incorporated 40 resident units per year. The annual uptake of 40 units has been based on a limited supply, and does not indicate that this is the maximum uptake capacity.”

In order to mitigate this risk, the plan suggests there could be presales of the units to potential project partners before the Olympics.

“There’s a window in there between 2009-2012, arguably 2013 more realistically, before all the units in the athletes’ village are absorbed,” said Melamed.

And that’s why it’s critical to have Rainbow stick to its schedule and deliver before the Olympics.

Rainbow does not have final zoning approval. That is expected to come in the spring if the developer delivers on all outstanding conditions in time.

The business deal is expected to come before the WHA board next week.