Good coffee, a grocery store within easy walking distance, accessible green space and a restaurant good enough to visit once a week. These are the four things I need to be in place before I could move to a new neighbourhood. In my mind these are the essential ingredients that make a neighbourhood liveable for me. I may be 45 but I think I have a millennial point of view which also includes more often than not, being car-free and reliant on Public Transit. I currently live in Yaletown, one of the trendiest and “tallest” neighbourhoods in Vancouver, but the neighbourhood that is getting the most buzz these days is clear across Metro region in New Westminster and it’s called the River Market.
I’ve been invited by my friends at Bosa Properties, developers of the new condo tower RiverSky, to come down to the New Westminster waterfront to see what the new neighbourhood has to offer. Ironically, just a few days earlier I saw that friends of mine had purchased two units in the Riversky development. They were so happy they posted a photo on their Facebook pointing to the unit that they were planning to call home and to the unit they bought for investment.
Before I begin my neighbourhood tour I first check out the Riversky sales office. I’m curious to see what my friends have bought and I’m also curious to see how the price difference between Yaletown and the new Riversky tower. Of course building hasn’t started yet so I can only go by the model of the building but it is gorgeous. It has all the amenities I love including a massive gym with state of the art equipment, a rooftop green space for outdoor enjoyment (lawn bowling parties perhaps?) and many floors of parking so guests should have no trouble parking when they come to visit.
Enough of the outside, what do these condos look like inside. One word, gorgeous. Similar size units to what I would look at in Yaletown but because these are just about to go to build they are even newer and in my view “smarter”. The use of space in the show home is fantastic including a Murphy bed in the living room that is part of the entertainment unit built in and the kitchen Island has an extendible dining table hidden inside it. When guests come over for dinner all you have to do is slide out the table. When they leave, just push it back into the Island. Genius. This unit would fit in in the trendiest neighbourhood anywhere but because it’s in New Westminster prices start at $229,900. I see why my friends bought two units.
So I know I could live happy in one of the Riversky condos but what about the neighbourhood? Where would I go for coffee? It turns out that a short 5 minute walk from where Riversky is being built is a brand new coffee shop called Old Crow Coffee. Located at 655 Front Street aka “Antique Alley” it’s convenient and damn good coffee. Almost hipster in its vibe but without the attitude I grabbed an Americano and a scone to try. Yummy. While I was there it was hard to find a spot to sit because every spot had a young 20-30 something working away on their Macbook. Is New West the new Portland?
Ok I can check good coffee off my neighbourhood check list. Now what about Green Space and activities? New Westminster doesn’t have Stanley Park or the Seawall but they do have Westminster Pier Park and the Esplanade. Together they provide enough kilometres to keep my daily coffee walks interesting and allow me to burn a few calories along the way. If you are looking for something a bit more energetic then the Vancouver Circus School inside the River Market may just be the thing for you. I signed up for a trampoline class. Bouncy and sweaty it is quite the workout and is pretty good on your core.
Ok so I’ve found great coffee and plenty of activities to do but what about groceries and other amenities. The River Market has it all including Donald’s Market for all my grocery needs and Mid-Century Modern Home for all my décor needs. I don’t know if an entire home decorated in mid-century modern is for me but there are tons of great pieces at this store that would add some cool originality and uniqueness to any space. I wish I knew about this store before because I have friends from San Diego that go ape shit crazy over mid-century modern pieces. They even travelled to Palm Springs to attend an art exhibit about it.
All I need to complete my must haves list for a neighbourhood is a restaurant I could eat at once a week. Consider that box checked off because once again at the River Market is the answer and it’s called Wild Rice. I actually had dinner there and wrote about it separately so check it out for all the juicy details.
There is a bonus feature to be had living at Riversky if you are self employed or work from home. At the River Market on the second floor across from the Vancouver Circus School you’ll find a co working space called The Network Hub. It’s your office away from home and with three locations, DT Vancouver, New Westminster and Whistler Village, you can pretty much work from anywhere.
Bosa’s Riversky won’t be completed for three years but I bet in those three years lots more exciting changes will be coming to the River Market waterfront. With two Skytrain stations to choose from just 10 minutes apart getting around Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey doesn’t get any easier. I can’t wait to see the development when it’s finished and look forward to a panoramic view of the Fraser River from my friend’s suite. Perhaps they’ll have the house warming party catered by Wild Rice.