Safety is a top concern for buyers, developer says

Safety is top of mind when it comes to buying into a new development – that’s according to Wesgroup, the folks behind Brewery District.

For years, developers thought amenities like gyms, fitness areas and squash courts were the main draw for prospective buyers of pre-sale properties, but recently, it seems safety features have become the priority for future homeowners, according to Beau Jarvis, senior vice-president of development for Wesgroup Properties.

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“I actually sometimes am surprised by that myself, but it is a fact,” he told the Record.

Jarvis has seen more and more young people choosing to raise families in urban settings instead of the suburbs. These families, however, still want the sense of safety that’s often associated with suburban living, so developers are adding features to designs early on, he said.

“Is there a clear path? Is it safe? Is it well lit? Is there body heat? Are there other people around?” Jarvis said of some of the questions his company asks when planning new developments.

But for buyers it goes beyond superficial trimmings. It’s about the community as a whole and how it makes homeowners feel.

Tina Do-An and her fiancé, Jason, recently bought a pre-sale home in the Brewery District and one of the main reasons they chose the Sapperton development is for its connectedness.

“We’re not 65 and ready to retire in Kelowna. We’re young adults and eventually we’ll have a family, and we want to be able to jump on a SkyTrain and go downtown with them and not have to travel for hours on end on three different buses, for example. So that to us really drew us,” Do-An said.

More than that though, Do-An wants to live in a place where she feels a part of the neighbourhood. The couple currently lives in Vancouver, and while the area is relatively safe, she doesn’t really know anyone nearby. She hopes the move to New Westminster will change that.

“I get the sense that everyone has the same mindset as I do, or as Jason and I do; to have that sense of community, and it adds to security. When you know your neighbours and something goes wrong, you can depend on your neighbours to help out when that time comes. When you don’t know who you’re living with in the same building it gets a little bit isolated,” she said.

Developers have a part to play in fostering the relationships between residents, Jarvis said.

At Brewery District, the fitness centre, gym, sauna and steam rooms, indoor lounge and squash court are all located in one building, which, Jarvis hopes, will motivate residents to get out more often.

“We want them (the residents) to talk to one another, engage with one another and have that community that occurs in the suburbs,” he added.

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