Something I’ve noticed over the last decade or so is that great developers ask great questions, and first among them is “How will this property make the city better?” Important other questions such as “How will this project make this particular neighbourhood more liveable?” and “What are the best amenities and floorplans to meet the buyer’s needs and wants?” must, of course, be asked, but it’s the developer who starts with the often overlooked “city first” question who achieves greater success by creating a bigger cause and providing more value and meaning to everyone who interacts with the property. This includes inspiration to the development team, better dialogue with city officials, a more compelling marketing and sales narrative, and a deeper connection with buyers at the time of purchase.
Bosa Development’s Pacific Gate in San Diego and Westbank’s Vancouver House in Vancouver are two shining examples of developers asking the “city first” question.
When developer Nat Bosa asked himself how Pacific Gate would make San Diego a better city, he realized that what it needed to do, along with its sister site across Broadway Street, was frame the entry from Pacific Highway to downtown, thereby creating the “Gateway to America’s Greatest City.” Bosa’s “city first” question led to Pacific Gate, the super prime architectural masterpiece designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox.
When developer Ian Gillespie pondered how Vancouver House would make Vancouver a better city, he came to the conclusion that what was needed was a much higher standard of architecture. Vancouver was known for its world-class land and city planning, but its architecture lagged behind. Having asked the “city first” question, he commissioned international architectural star Bjarke Ingels to design Vancouver House, the city’s first super prime property and a magnificent “curtain” opening into downtown Vancouver. Exactly as Gillespie envisioned, Vancouver House has sparked a city-wide movement of new, architecturally significant buildings.
When developers ask the “city first” question, exceptional things happen.