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Coal Harbour is not only downtown Vancouver’s newest neighbourhood, it’s also arguably its most exclusive. Waterfront towers with epic mountain views dot the skyline, while luxury condos and high-end shops line the aptly-named Billionaire’s Row.
In terms of location, Coal Harbour is hard to beat. Stanley Park is on the doorstep and it’s a short stroll to Vancouver’s financial district and downtown core. But as with many new neighbourhoods, Coal Harbour has been criticized for lacking its own distinct character.
That’s all set to change, however, as Coal Harbour starts to shed its too-polished reputation and begins to welcome a more diverse demographic into its fold.
Welcome to Coal Harbour
When most of your neighbourhood has views of Stanley Park, the Burrard Inlet, the North Shore Mountains or all of the above, you know you’re in a special place. Coal Harbour might be downtown Vancouver’s youngest neighbourhood but it certainly punches above its weight in terms of location and potential.
Next door to both the West End and Vancouver’s financial district, Coal Harbour is a short walk to pretty much everything you’d ever need - restaurants, bars, offices, gyms, galleries, shopping. The trails and seawall of Stanley Park are minutes away, as are the tourist hotspots of Canada Place and its accompanying cruise ship terminal.
Downtown Vancouver’s neighbourhoods are already densely populated and geographically limited, and Coal Harbour is no exception. High rise living is the norm here, especially in mixed-use tower blocks offering commercial, hotel and residential options.
Despite the lack of space, there are several new developments in the works, including a new elementary school and condo options that cater to younger families.
"Now we're finally getting to where Coal Harbour is maturing and the demographic is also shifting,” explains Khavari. “We're getting millennials building their wealth and being able to come into Coal Harbour. It was sleepy but it's changing and I think it's going to be a really fun neighbourhood in the next few years."
You don’t need to be a billionaire to live here, but it helps.
Alberni Street has long been a playground for the wealthy. The Hotel Vancouver set up shop here in the 1930s and set the stage for some of the most exclusive real estate in the city. A couple of blocks away and some eighty years later, the Shangri-La was built, ushering in a new era of luxury residential towers above high-end retail stores and restaurants.
Billionaire’s Row was born - Khavari calls it Vancouver’s Rodeo Drive. These days, developers continue to purchase sites along the Alberni corridor, from Burrard Street all the way to Stanley Park. The intention is to double-down on the idea of luxury living, creating exclusive turn-key properties for eye-watering price tags.
"That's where the second phase of Coal Harbour is coming in,” says Khavari. “We're seeing ultra-luxury developments. Over the next 10 years, we're going to have some very unique buildings with some very unique amenities. And of course they have access to all the current amenities that are along the street here."
If you’ve ever visited Vancouver as a tourist, you’ve probably been to Coal Harbour’s Waterfront district. Home to the Olympic Cauldron, the Digital Orca sculpture, Vancouver Convention Centre and Canada Place, the Waterfront is a hotspot for visitors and residents alike.
"This was built for the Olympics,” explains Khavari. “This was our presentation to the world. To this day, when tourists land off the cruise ships or are sightseeing, the first place they go is Canada Place. It's sort of our 'Welcome to Vancouver, this is who we are.’"
Just a stone’s throw from Vancouver’s financial district, Coal Harbour’s Waterfront is a top choice for city workers who want to avoid the daily commute. Condos are king, especially in mixed-use buildings sharing space with hotels and offices. That’s attracted a demographic of young professionals, resulting in restaurants and bars with louder vibes and later closing times.
Head down the seawall from Canada Place towards Stanley Park and you’ll find a surprisingly quiet residential area with epic mountain views.
"When I have clients who say 'I want to live in the city but I don't want to feel like I'm living in the city', I introduce them to Bayshore Drive," says Khavari, describing the collection of condo towers clustered close to the park.
This is the part of Coal Harbour that’s arguably changing the most. A new elementary school for about 350 students is under construction and is due to open in the next year or so.
Khavari says this is part of a plan to attract a different sort of homeseeker. “They're trying to attract more of a family demographic to this already built up phase one of Coal Harbour."
Milad Khavari is one of those Vancouverites you rarely meet - he has only ever lived downtown. His family moved to the city from Iran when he was nine years old and his mother knew immediately she wanted to live in the heart of the city. That gave Khavari a unique childhood as he grew up a block off of the iconic Robson Street.
"It was very nice living downtown,” he remembers. “I went to high school on Denman Street. I went to elementary school in the West End. Stanley Park was my backyard.”
His urban childhood has set him up well - who else would you choose to find you the best place to live downtown other than someone who has explored its streets his whole life?
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