What was to be the tallest tower on the North Shore is stuck underground, at least for the time being.
Denna Homes, the developer behind the Seylynn towers on Mountain Highway, is putting its 32-storey Apex tower on ice while the company focuses on another North Shore project.
Denna had already completed the foundation and underground parking for the Apex but found itself waiting several months in 2019 for superstructure permits from the District of North Vancouver.
“We got to a point where our construction company was going to just have guys on site for the sake of being on site,” said Dan Thomson, vice-president of marketing for Denna Homes. “We were not even able to do additional work until we had that superstructure permit so the decision was made to prep the site to wait, which is box up the rebar and protect it.”
Long waits for permits are now the norm across Metro Vancouver, Thomson said.
The superstructure permit finally arrived on Christmas Eve, but by then Denna had already decommissioned the site and decided to focus its efforts on The Sentinel, a 26-storey tower at 303 Marine Dr. in West Vancouver.
Darwin Properties rezoned the land in 2018 but sold it to Denna in 2019. Denna has since asked West Vancouver council to consider a proposal that would allow for an additional 35 units within the same building footprint by making some of the larger condos into smaller ones. The District of West Vancouver has scheduled a public hearing for the altered proposal on March 10.
Thomson said Denna has every intention of resuming work on the Apex. When that happens, though, will likely be tied to a rebounding housing market.
“It’s not frothy by any means, but you’ve got projects that are starting to launch and single-family home sales that are starting to increase, so those are all good signs in the right direction,” he said. “If all of a sudden tomorrow the market went crazy, we would probably try and figure out how to get our energies on both Apex and Sentinel, but right now we only have the capacity to deal with Sentinel.”
At the peak of the market, flips of rezoned but not-yet-built projects were quite common and profitable, Thomson said.
Now though, some junior developers may find themselves in over their heads and having to sell or wait for more favourable market conditions to start construction.
“Three, four years ago, everyone was buying land and becoming a developer,” he said. “They buy their land at a high price and the market turns and now they’re in trouble.”
Also impacting the decision was the fact the relatively small developer also lost one of their key team members, Daniel Saket, who was killed in the Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 crash in Tehran last month.
“That has had a really big effect on us,” he said.
This story has been edited to correct a date error.