Is Kitsilano dead?

As housing prices continue to push people eastward, is Vancouver's most iconic neighbourhood yesterday's news—or tomorrow's bargain?

April 29, 2016

By Ben Chimes

For those who have lived in Vancouver for any length of time, the very question seems absurd: Kits has long been one of the most desirable places to call home in the city. With easy access to beaches and parks, a highly walkable community of shops, restaurants, and cafés along 4th Avenue—not to mention a mellow west coast vibe that once seemed to define Vancouver—you could easily understand why Kits would be in high demand.

From a real estate perspective, however, we are seeing a different story developing. At the end of 2015, the average sales price of a condo in Kitsilano was $522,425. Whereas near Main Street, it was $572,661. Just five years ago, those numbers were $438,068 and $365,295, respectively. And it’s just one example of an East Van neighbourhood that has closed the gap. Granted, there is still a large gap in the price of detached homes, $2.5 million in Kits versus $1.5 million along Main, but the popularity of Kitsilano among young professionals, families, and condo dwellers certainly appears to be dwindling.

Rather than focusing on why people are moving east, however, here are a few reasons why it might be time to give Kitsilano another long look as your neighbourhood of choice:

Better value in accommodations

Strange as it may sound, both from a rental and purchase point of view, you can often get better value for your dollar right now when we are talking about condos. Yes, many of the buildings are older, but there are some terrific options out there right now. A well-maintained and recently renovated older building can offer loads of value from a living perspective.

A redefined culinary scene

AnnaLena, Fable, Oakwood, La Quercia, Supermarine, and Restaurant of the Year Maenam have all seriously upped the food scene in the neighbourhood over the last few years. A scene that was once dingy sports bars and hole-in-the-wall diners (and Bishop’s, of course) has evolved into a fantastic array of upscale and casual gems that are legitimate destination restaurants.

Upgraded shopping strip

If shopping is your thing, W. 4th Avenue has raised the bar here as well, with stores like Gravity Pope, Judith & Charles, and Kit and Ace leading the way.

Location, location, location

Kitsilano is still centred around the beach and, well, who doesn’t love the beach? It’s also five to 10 minutes to downtown, provides easy access to UBC, and is a pleasant stroll to Granville Island. And summer in Kitsilano, filled with outdoor activities, beach parties, and patio cocktails, is pretty darn tough to beat.

When looking ahead to what’s next for Kitsilano, it will likely be the evolution of the Broadway corridor in step with the eventual implementation of the new subway line. Remember what Cambie Street looked like 10 years ago? Expect some major changes. In particular, look to see a similar influx of new condo buildings popping up along West Broadway that will supply the area with some newer residences that are so severely lacking at present. We’ve seen a few buildings start the trend already over the past 18 months—and it will likely accelerate soon.

Ben Chimes is a partner at Zwick Chimes Real Estate Group

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