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Veteran developer admits he’ll not make much on ‘signature’ project

Mass-timber strata complex wraps up 30 years of Aragon residential development on the New Westminster waterfront

This Saturday, June 3, Vancouver developer Aragon will open its fully complete 87-unit Timber House residential complex, Aragon’s final project in Port Royal, New Westminster, where the company has completed 1,300 homes over the past 30 years.

Perhaps its most costly construction project, Timber House required months to design. Aragon worked with Fast + Epp, a CLT engineering firm, on 3D virtual modelling that took precision to the granular level, said Aragon president and founder Lenny Moy.

“We got right down to the length and type of every nail and screw,” he said.

Timber House, at 310 Salter Street, New Westminster, was constructed using cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels, a unique building product as it sequesters carbon from the environment and combines building strength with natural wood.

The three-building complex required all custom CLT components and panels, factory built by Kalesnikoff Lumber Co. Ltd of Castlegar, B.C., to be trucked to and assembled on site.

Moy said the wood is so attractive that he left the interior walls exposed in much of the space being built on Aragon’s last piece of land at Port Royal in the Queensborough waterfront community.

CLT is not cheap, however.

Aside from the cost of precision design and the lumber, there was also specific training needed  for crews unaccustomed with mass-timber builds. Moy estimates the construction costs were at least 15 per cent higher than conventional construction.

“This is a signatory project for Aragon as we are leaving Port Royal,” Moy said. “It is a pioneer project for us, but it is not as profitable.”

Timber House homes, which includes condominiums, two-storey townhouses and six-story loft strata units, are priced around $900 per square foot, considered at the low end of the new strata market in Metro Vancouver.

“We are not making money on Timber House,” Moy said. "We are making a statement.”

Like all strata projects by Aragon, which does not use pre-sales, Timber House homes are complete and ready for occupancy within 30 days.