Grow veggies and herbs from your condo

Freesia buyers can opt to purchase a garden plot on the building's terrace

The Vancouver Sun

Living in a large condominium development in the downtown core isn't usually an option for avid gardeners. But for those with a green thumb, Freesia sales manager Gregory Zayadi and assistant Lisa Cheung (right) have a proposition: Freesia is offering a garden terrace with about 60 personal plots. For an additional $2,800 on top of the selling price, a buyer can purchase one of the 1.5-metre-square gardening plots and a small tool locker. According to developer Henry Man, president of Magellen 20/20, the Freesia is the only downtown building that offers this kind of gardening experience.

"To be able to bring a little more greenery or nature as part of this downtown living is a luxury," said Man. "Otherwise, people moving from houses to a condominium find it quite a contrast from where they are coming from. Here they can grow their own herbs."

Man said he came up with the idea after watching a television interview with the chef from the Waterfront Hotel, who said he grows his own herbs on top of the hotel.

The $52-million project at Seymour and Helmcken is the first downtown condominium development for Man's private company.

The real-estate executive had resigned as the chief executive officer for Concord Pacific Group two years ago in order to spend more time with his family. But he decided to come out of his brief retirement to form his own property development firm.

Man said he plans to contribute 20 per cent of his annual profits to local charities, while earmarking another 20 per cent for an employee profit-sharing program.

The condos will be selling for $400 per square foot, compared to other new condos in "Downtown South," which are currently selling at prices averaging $420 to $440 per square foot.

Man said he's been able to keep his prices lower with floor plans designed to achieve "97.35 per cent" efficiency, so that very little space is wasted.

"This high efficiency will allow me to construct at a lower cost, so I can sell lower and still leave money on the table," he said.