Langley Township is in the midst of a major change in its housing stock, as hundreds of condo units are built, approved, or planned for the near future.
A decade ago there were few condos and just a handful of low-rise apartments in the Township.
But the Township’s decision to allow areas of higher density in Willoughby co-incided with a provincial change in the building code allowing condos up to six stories, from the previous limit of four.
Now multiple projects are in various stages, almost all of them in the Yorkson area of Willoughby.
• A Poet’s Wynd passed third reading last fall and will see four five- and six-storey condo buildings along with some three-storey townhomes at 208th Street and 80th Avenue.
• Willoughby Walk is a planned 191 unit six-storey apartment building in the 7800 block of 208th Street.
• Lattice at Milner Heights is a six-storey mixed use project under consideration, for the corner of 72nd Avenue and 208th Street.
In addition, local developers Vesta and Quadra told the Langley Advance they are working on other plans nearby, but they are still at a very early stage.
Vesta, for example, is looking at a site near 84th Avenue and 200th Street and plans to apply later this year, said Marlene Best, Vesta’s B.C. development manager.
Although plans are very preliminary, they are considering a mix of four, five, and six storey buildings for the site, she said.
Even as a significant number of condo projects have already been built – mostly by Quadra so far – condo builders are reconsidering how they design for the local market.
Vesta will be reviewing the size and design of its condos during a six-week process this year. Best said they will be considering who is buying their condos and why – are they empty nesters, young people, or families?
“In the major cities of Europe, apartment living for a family is a norm,” said Best.
However, that is just starting in the Lower Mainland, mainly in Vancouver.
“There’ll be a time lag before that moves out [to Langley],” Best said.
Right now, families are mostly buying townhouses, which are also being built at a rapid pace.
But the size of condo units is increasing.
In May, Quadra Homes sold the final phase of condos in its sprawling multi-phase development near 82nd Avenue and 208th Street.
Would-be buyers camped out for days. The condos sold out in five and a half hours once the doors opened at the sales centre.
Quadra has never had a condo project sell out like that, said vice president Shawn Bouchard.
As the most prolific builder of condos in the Township over the last several years, Quadra has gone through several cycles of adjusting the designs of its buildings. Early phases included a number of bachelor suites well under 1,000 square feet.
The newest and final phase in the Yorkson area has units from 1,100 to 1,600 square feet.
“The market was pretty weak for condos in Langley for quite a long time,” Bouchard said.
With Quadra building numerous units, he believed that they created a market in many ways, which several companies are now entering.
Quadra has two more projects planned, including one near the Willoughby Town Centre, and a 537-unit project near the Carvolth park and ride, including condos, rentals, and row homes.
Although local neighbourhood plans call for condos and apartments, they are still foreign to the established communities around them, Best said. That means more consideration has to be given to the interfaces between the new buildings and the older areas.
Langley Township is still well behind Langley City, which has been building low-rise apartment buildings for decades and condos in recent years.
City records show 6,380 apartment units of one kind or another as of the last census.
Langley Township, meanwhile, has about 4,600 apartment and condo units, based on the census and building permits.