A former industrial area along the Fraser River is being transformed into a complete community that will house about 15,000 residents.

At first blush, the River District Centre at the foot of Kerr Street looks more like a family gathering place than a real-estate marketing office. A group of moms with their infants are seated in a circle, laughing and singing. Off to one side is a kids’ library, where the wall is covered with children’s art. Nearby, a machine will take your photo, enabling you to send it as a postcard. In another area, there’s an Xbox Kinect and a screen for showing children’s movies. Everyone is welcome to drop by—there are no age restrictions.

It’s all housed in a roomy, wood-panelled building with a high ceiling overlooking a gorgeous view of the Fraser River in Southeast Vancouver.

“This is a totally different approach to real-estate marketing,” Kyra Lubell, director of community relations for River District, tells the Georgia Straight. “The other thing that is unique is we’re not selling any real estate out of this building. We’re just educating the community about the project.”

River District is one of the largest community-building exercises in the city’s history. The area formerly known as East Fraserlands encompasses 52.6 hectares along the Fraser River, between Kerr Street and Boundary Road. Once the site of the Canadian White Pine Mill, this huge chunk of land south of Marine Drive was bought by ParkLane Homes in 2003.

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