Condos offer big lifestyle, small footprint

Developer Kevin Edgecombe is the first to admit the original launch of Sole in 2010 failed because Kelowna just wasn’t ready for micro condominiums. “We were ahead of our time in 2010,” said Edgecombe of Edgecombe Builders. “Maybe we are still ahead of our time offering these small, efficient spaces. But there has been a real shift and I think, especially in downtown Kelowna, there is a market for Sole.”

Retooled and rebooted just last week, Sole immediately sold four condominiums and three of the commercial spaces. “That’s a great indication that we’re onto something,” said Edgecombe. When Sole sells out its limited-edition release of the first 10 of the 40 condos, it will start construction, likely in early July, for completion in August 2014. Sole will rise six storeys at 1290 St. Paul St., just north of the intersection with Cawston Avenue. The bottom three floors will be concrete construction and contain first level storefronts, second story retail commercial and third floor offices.

Edgecombe Builders will move its corporate offices into space on the first and second floors and the third floor has been bought by financial planning firm Peacock Sheridan and high-tech service provider Impact Radio. The top three floors will be wood frame construction condos ranging from 389-square-foot studio suites to 751-square-foot two-bedroom units. Prices start at $139,000 for a studio and go up to $292,000 for the biggest two-bedroom. “People in Kelowna are used to having at least 1,000 square feet, so Sole asks people to think differently,” said Edgecombe. “People are willing to live well and efficient in a smaller space when the location is right and that’s what we have right downtown, where everything is within walking distance.” Thus Sole’s motto of “big life, small footprint.”

Smaller condos are already a trend in downtown Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Edgecombe said a buzz has returned to downtown Kelowna after the recession. Bernard Avenue is being revitalized; a new yacht club is under construction; Interior Health is building its new headquarters downtown for 1,000 workers; and Monaco – the twin highrise commerical-condo complex a few blocks south on St. Paul Street – will start construction this fall. Sole’s incentives to kick off the re-launch are also helping – five per cent off the price of any condo and 5,000, 7,500 and 10,000 Air Miles respectively for studios, one bedrooms and two bedrooms. To make the condos as space efficient as possible, they include built-in features such as refrigerator, range, microwave, dishwasher, kitchen table with bench, combination washer-dryer and blinds.

Sole also has ideas for efficient space use, especially in the studios, utilizing convertible beds. Some of the one-bedroom units only have one wall with windows facing the living room and kitchen, meaning the bedroom is in the interior of the condo with no windows to the outside. To give the bedroom natural light, it has frosted glass walls. All Sole condos have small balconies, however, there’s
ample outdoor amenity space with the shared rooftop terrace that has patio seating, a barbecue and fire pit. Also on the top floor there’s a 560-square-foot gym. Sole’s small, affordable, stylish, downtown positioning means its hitting a niche market. “There are some first-time buyers because we are affordable,” said Epic Real Estate Solutions’ Mark West, who is marketing Sole. “But generally we’re expecting 25-to-40-year-olds who are already living in a condo, but want something new and downtown. We made also get the odd Vancouver or Alberta buyer who wants an affordable place in Kelowna.”

West also touts his new style of selling real estate. “People don’t want to be sold, they want to be informed. It’s customer-centric, not developer-centric.” As such, West stays in touch whatever way potential buyers want – in person, phone, email, Facebook, text messaging or Twitter. “I’m personally involved in all communication, so you can expect to hear back from me immediately, even if it’s midnight,” he said with a laugh.

Epic has marketed projects locally and internationally, from The Outback near Vernon and Trepanier Manor in Peachland to High Forest at Big White Ski Resort and Sotavento Beach Villas in Zihuatanejo, Mexico. Edgecombe is an active Kelowna builder constructing
custom homes and is a preferred builder at the Wilden planned community. It also built the Martin Lofts condos at Richter Street and Martin Avenue. Check out SoleKelowna.com.

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