November 1, 2010
Neighbourhoods are born, or reborn, at the confluence of multiple forces, but mostly it’s about money. And so one shouldn’t be surprised, walking down the once-grey stretch that is South Fraser Street, to discover a percolating excitement nowadays. Not long ago it was known as a quiet mosaic of restaurants and services (Polish, Filipino, Vietnamese, and Chinese communities are still strong here), but now South Fraser faces the beginnings of gentrification—and, with it, potential homogenization. Three new four-storey condo complexes are being sold: Blossom, Magnolia, and Century.
The last is buttressed with the neighbourhood’s first Starbucks, Shoppers Drug Mart, and a No Frills supermarket. As housing prices near $1 million for a humble abode, South Fraser’s unpretentious identity may be under fire, but it’s still common enough to hear grunge bands rehearsing in alleyway garages. And living situations still feel decidedly un-exclusive: homes are largely convivial duplexes and six-bedroom ranchers occupied by extended families. Like Main Street, and Commercial Drive before it, Fraser is undergoing an identity crisis that will soon have 30-somethings muttering, “I moved in before…”—Pat Richardson
THE BUYERS | Like many young couples financially locked out of the West Side, Aaron and Tessa (both 30) found a charming alternative in South Fraser. Sandwiched between Main and Commercial, the newlyweds now live near destination restaurants and shops without the accompanying fracas.
THE HOME | 942 E. 21st Ave., $860,000
A bungalow from the 1920s. The quaint exterior belies 1,908 square feet of hardwood floors and French doors that open onto a back deck for family BBQs. Five bedrooms, two baths.
THE REALTOR | Jay McInnes of Macdonald Realty
THE SEARCH | After looking at almost 30 properties in Mount Pleasant, the McHardys grew weary of competing with aggressive buyers and widened their hunt to include South Fraser. They immediately fell for the long and spacious kitchen in their roomy new bungalow—a welcome change from their previous cramped apartment in Kitsilano.
THE NEIGHBOURHOOD | The McHardys look forward to simple neighbourhood activities: picking up organic produce at Famous Foods and nearby farmers’ markets; coffee dates at Cedar Cottage (an easy 18-minute bike ride down the Windsor Way route). It’s a friendly ’hood, too: neighbours helped them find a used lawn mower and took out the garbage when they forgot.—Kate Reid
Where the Cool Kids Go
When the popular bistro Les Faux Bourgeois opened near sketchy Fraser and Kingsway last year, it signalled a sea change. Before ducking in for onion soup, though, poke through Collage Collage down the block, which followed Les Faux’s lead. Local toddlers attend art classes, here while parents peruse a smart selection of chic publications and
mod gifts. Lesfauxbourgeois.com; Collagecollage.ca
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