$10.79M downtown condo sale doubles the previous record

A Canadian couple has finalized a pre-sale deal for the $10.79-million penthouse in the Customs House building — smashing previous records for Victoria condominiums.

The high-end building is to be ready for occupation in early summer of 2020, developer Stan Sipos said Monday.

Consisting of 4,422 square feet on the seventh level and a roof deck spanning 1,990 square feet on the eighth level, the penthouse will feature three bedrooms and a den. It comes with views of Victoria Harbour, the B.C. legislature, the CPR Steamship Terminal building on Belleville Street and the Fairmont Empress hotel.

In 2016, musician David Foster’s penthouse condo in the Shoal Point development in James Bay sold for a record high of $5.5 million. Two years earlier, it had sold for $5 million.

Another couple, from Canada’s east coast, has signed a pre-sale agreement to buy a sub-penthouse in Customs House for close to $7 million. And now, the latest buyer signed an unconditional, pre-completion sale for the penthouse at its listed price, Sipos said.

It is common for buyers to sign pre-sale agreements to reserve a unit at a specific price in a condo development. A certain percentage of pre-sales can be required by a financing institution before it releases funds for a development.

The $100-million-plus project is being built at the former Canada Customs building site at 816 Government St. and the next-door heritage building facing Wharf Street. The property is bordered by Government, Wharf and Courtney streets. Heritage facades are being saved and the interior has been gutted.

Sipos expects the project will breathe more vitality into Wharf Street.

There are nine units remaining of the 57 originally available. The bulk of the units are between $1.5 million and $3.5 million, Sipos said.

Project real estate agent Craig Anderson, of Vancouver’s Magnum Projects, said buyers are typically 55 to 64 years old, planning to live here full-time during retirement. At least half the buyers are from Victoria. Some Canadian buyers have been living far afield, in places such as Japan and Europe.

The project includes lower-level commercial and the desire is to find a high-end restaurant for that space, Anderson said.

Sipos said that although the real estate market “isn’t super hot right now,” pre-sales show that “Customs House is an extraordinarily special project.”

“The details and the architectural materials used I hope will really reflect what it is meant to be.”

It will be “iconic” when it complete, he said, likening it to a work of art. This has been a “very, very expensive project,” he said.

For example, it was not easy to find workers experienced in working in limestone to create elaborate details such as cornices. The thick windowsills are made of stone.

Features include 10- to 13-foot-high ceilings, heated bathroom floors, motorized roller-shade blinds, a concierge offering a full range of services, secured underground parking with cameras and a car-wash station. Units will be wired for smart-home automation.