When it came time to move forward with the first apartments in its master-planned community of Harvard Gardens in south Surrey, Polygon decided to go ahead and build them — and then to offer them up for sale.

It’s a contrast to the model often used in other projects, where buyers must decide whether to move ahead with pre-construction sales contracts based on floor plans and display suites. The developers then use the deposit funds to obtain bank financing, and to proceed with building the homes. The purchasers have to wait a designated period — years, in some cases — to move in.

“We wanted to give people the opportunity here to see the finished homes,” explains Monique Janower, Polygon’s senior vice-president of marketing. “It helps establish the quality of the development — to map out what it will feel like — in a concrete way for people.”

In choosing to construct the building now, what Polygon is able to offer purchasers is certainty: certainty that the finishings, views and homes they see now are the ones they will be moving in to. Occupancy is now available.

This approach appears to be resonating with the audience. At its grand opening sales event, Polygon sold more than a quarter of the homes available at Kingston House, the first offering of apartments at Harvard Gardens.

“We saw some downsizers, but the most were first-time buyers, like couples starting out,” Janower says. “Most of the homes available have two bedrooms. That amount of space is very appealing.”

In the first of two display suites, a U-shaped counter in grey defines the kitchen space. Glossy white overhead cabinets and cleverly designed drawers maximize storage. Stainless steel appliances complete the sleekly contemporary look.

Beyond the kitchen is the open expanse of the dining area and living room. Oversized windows allow natural light to stream into the space. It separates two bedrooms, one of which has been fitted out as an office.

The master is large enough to accommodate both a full-sized bed and two nightstands; a full-sized washer and dryer are tidily tucked into the ensuite bathroom.

A second show suite opens with an entryway foyer reminiscent of a single-family house. It then continues into an open-concept home, with the dining area immediately in front of the foyer, a generously sized kitchen with an island beyond that, and a living room off to the left. With their placement along the exterior of the building, both the kitchen and living room again have lots of light, making them feel a little more like the ones found in single-family homes. A sliding door just off the kitchen opens up to a deck, allowing for indoor-outdoor living.

The alternate colour scheme — with dark chocolate flooring, café au lait upper kitchen cabinets, and off white counters — is shown off here.

The display in the master bedroom includes a hugely oversized headboard for the bed, helping to exhibit the ceiling height in the homes. This ensuite bathroom includes both a deep soaker tub and a stand-alone shower stall.

The majority of the people signing on the dotted line to date for Kingston House are those who live in the general vicinity, and know it well. A handful have been from Richmond, drawn to the neighbourhood by the educational opportunities available for their children, according to Polygon’s senior vice-president of sales and marketing, Ralph Archibald.

“Southridge is ranked No. 1 by the Fraser Institute [as an elementary school; it’s ranked 3rd as a secondary for 2011-2012],” Archibald reports. “There are also very good public schools nearby — Semiahmoo and Elgin Park, and Rosemary Heights elementary.”

The name of the larger community — Harvard Gardens — is no accident. Polygon’s design team made a trip to Boston in spring 2011 to draw inspiration from the notable universities in the region.

They brought back decidedly collegiate elements.

“The use of the brick on the building exteriors, the magnolia trees, the way the pathways wind through the master-planned community — it’s meant to feel like a campus,” Archibald says.

Because Kingston House has already been built, prospective purchasers can see it for themselves: the way the brick facade clads part of the lower three storeys of the building, with other sections in pewter grey; how the crisp lines of window frames and balcony railings are picked out in black; how the dentilled eaves on parts of the roof add that extra layer of texture and detail.

With its full height wainscotting in chocolate wood and marble floors, the lobby for the building echoes college libraries from a long-gone era. The grouping of comfortable armchairs looks like a perfect spot to plunk down and crack open some textbooks.

A 10,000-square-foot-plus recreational facility — dubbed The Rowing Club — will be complete in summer of 2015 for residents of the community to use.

It includes a sizable gym — equivalent in size to the gymnasium you might see in an elementary school — with a basketball court, a games room, a lounge, an outdoor patio and pool, a giant outdoor chessboard and a dog spa. There are also significant amounts of green space around Harvard Gardens.

Archibald and Janower say there is no shortage of other recreational amenities to use in the meantime. South Surrey Athletic Park is nearby, as is the Semiahmoo trail. Should people wish to do so, they can walk all the way to Crescent Beach.

Kingston House — and by extension, Harvard Gardens — is moments away from Highway 99 access for commuters. It is a five-minute drive to The Shops at Morgan Crossing, among other retail offerings. The region’s major shopping centre covers grocery, retail, banking and dining needs.

Archibald says there’s another significant reason to buy.

“The interest rates available are very favourable right now — if you close within the next 30 to 60 days, you’ll get them. Those rates won’t stay the same forever,” he points out. “There’s never been a better time to be a first-time homebuyer.”

Allowing purchasers to take advantage of current low interest rates wasn’t part of the original plan, he acknowledges — it’s just a side benefit of the decision to have completed homes for sale, and part of the overall certainty they’re offering buyers at Kingston House.

Source: Vancouver Sun