Developing Story: Carnival planned to help sell Kingsway condos

What does it take to sell condos these days? Maybe a carnival. That’s what’s planned to attract potential buyers to a preview for a new Vancouver development called Kensington Gardens at 2220 Kingsway on the old Canadian Tire site.

Magnum Projects Ltd. is marketing the Westbank project designed by Henriquez Partners Architects. The development, which will cover one city block and take three years to build, features three towers with just under 450 residential suites, a supermarket, a restaurant, walkable gardens and an elevated podium with a full-size, year-round pool.

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Set for Saturday afternoon, the Kensington Garden Carnival includes a circus performance by Blink Acro, a magician, Miss Chinese pageant girls, musical performances by Famous Players and Kuba Oms, a food truck festival, children’s activities and an appearance by former Vancouver Canuck Kirk McLean.

George Wong, principal of Magnum Projects, said the firm has targeted people living within a five-kilometre radius of the property — 40,000 mailers were sent out. Magnum also held an event last Thursday for realtors who sell in East Vancouver and Burnaby.

Wong said Kensington Gardens is designed to reflect the City of Vancouver’s goal to create walkable communities with amenities nearby, adding it’s the first development of its kind in that East Side neighbourhood.

“It’s unlike anything else that’s been done in the surrounding area in that it’s more elevated, it’s more luxurious. In that sense, it’s a relatively new idea in this part of Vancouver.

The carnival aims to familiarize potential buyers with “what this community promises,” according to Wong.

“People are the most apt to understand a new concept when they experience something that is enjoyable, relaxed and fun. And that’s what we want to create with this novel idea and this game-changer in this part of Vancouver. What’s a better way to introduce this idea other than a fun-filled family-oriented event?”

Wong acknowledges the condo market is a tough market and that marketers need to make a statement to stand out.

“The real estate market in the Lower Mainland has never been non-competitive. It’s always been competitive. But good development always sells fast,” he said.

“As a marketer, one never underestimates the competition. There are a lot of choices for people. I’m not going to lie. People have a lot of choices. It’s an overcrowded marketplace. To stand out, you need to design a higher quality product and better value — just a sharper product.”

A decade ago, Magnum launched the high-end complex One Harbour Green by organizing a harbour cruise for 120 of the city’s “opinion and idea shapers.” It ended with a cocktail party at Harbour Green Park where a parachutist dropped from a plane. It sold out in six weeks.

“Marketing needs to be creative to effect that positive experience that is very suitable and relevant to the community that we’re promoting,” Wong said.

Anne McMullin, president and CEO of the Urban Development Institute, said an elaborate tactic like a carnival isn’t unusual, especially for a master-planned community like Kensington Gardens. (A master-planned community is one that’s on a large enough site to include everything from residential to commercial to recreational amenities.)

“They would do a lot more than say a 10-storey or even a 20-storey highrise. So you’ll see a lot of that when it’s a master-planned community like River District. You’ll see it, I’m sure, if the Oakridge project goes ahead.”

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