OMA!

OK, I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble. Everyone has the right to be happy and live on a wonderful, delusional, sparkly champagne planet of his/her own making if that suits. But I must speak to the condominium development called OMA and I must do it quickly, before anyone is hoodwinkled.

Condominiums are not so swank as they want to be, usually. They are fancy apartments that you own and they tend to be located in ritzy neighbourhoods, traditionally downtown (the downtown of whatever city one happens to be in.) Recently a lot of condos have been going up in the suburbs, too – that way they’re affordable and are still condos and so you’re swank and can still afford to eat and put gas in your minisuv.

Most condos don’t really interest me one way or another, mainly because they cost many many dollars and don’t come with any land. Unless I can afford to imagine being able to afford to live in the penthouse of a given condo, I don’t give condos a whole lot of love or hate. Whatever – they grow; I go by.

But there is a particular condo development going up in my neighbourhood, which has been my neighbourhood, on and off, for the last 30 years.

(That would be Burnaby, a suburb of Vancouver. Burnaby is not the worst you could do, suburb-wise. It’s friendly and you can see the mountains and from some spots, the water. You can get downtown in 30 minutes from my house, or to the deep-burbs by heading 30 minutes in the other direction. Most neighbourhoods in Burnaby do not have crack houses or grow-ops but some do and that’s OK. We don’t mind. There are two lakes in Burnaby; Deer Lake and Burnaby Lake. Both lakes feature many ducks.)

The condo development is called OMA. That stands for One Madison Ave. Oh yes, there is a street, um avenue, called Madison in Burnaby. It runs north-south and goes as far north as Burrard inlet and as far south as … um … highway 1, I think. It’s not a particularly interesting street…sorry, AVENUE.

But! OMA sent me a flyer. It’s all black and lime green. There’s an elegant girl on the front staring at me, her kempt hair mocking my own flyaway strands. She is one of the terrible Italian girls I went to high school with. She has very thin eyebrows and is sitting in a leather recliner. She is daring me to Choose Burnaby. I want, instead, to run.

See for yourself: OMA! There is a lot of flaSH! woah! but you will be able to see the green and blackness of it all. Maybe you will be able to read it – I could not but I have the flyer. Doesn’t it look like the theme from GODZILLA?
Wasn’t the best part of that movie at the end when there was a remix of Kashmir? P. Diddy and Jimmy Fucking Page. Allrighty!

Aside from the design choices, though, there are some errors in print about OMA. I was willing to let them go when I had only seen them on posters and billboards, in rapid-passing, but then a flyer came to the door and taunted me. Bitch.

1. “1 minute from Vancouver, 2 towers, 334 homes.”

If by Vancouver you mean Boundary Road, yes, you are one minute from Vancouver. But I doubt that most people, when they think of our fair city by the sea, think of the 24-hour Knight and Day restaurant, the McDonalds with the caboose and a #9 bus depot. Because that’s what you’re going to find in the Vancouver that’s one minute from OMA.

And isn’t building 2 towers just asking for trouble?

2. “Like New York’s SOHO in the ’80s, Burnaby’s Brentwood is in the heart of a popular revitalization.”

It’s in the what with the who, now? Burnaby’s Brentwood is a mall. It’s called Brentwood Mall. Ah, the stories I could tell about skipping school, stealing lipgloss from Boots Drugstore, taking endless photos in the photo booth. But I won’t. Without ever having travelled to either New York or SOHO, but having experienced the ’80s firsthand, I can tell you that Burnaby’s Brentwood had a great makeover in ’89 or so and it really doesn’t need a whole lot more done to it. It’s one mall with 2 Starbucks, a Zellers, a Sears, a London Drugs, a liquor store and three or four shoe stores. It’s fine.

3. “And you’re only a few stops away from downtown Vancouver via the Gilmore Skytrain.”

Gilmore, then Rupert, then Renfrew, then Commercial, then switch trains, then Main Street, then Stadium, then Granville. If you’re still breathing, Congratulations! You’re downtown! But you’ve paid for two zones because even though you’re a minute away from Vancouver at OMA, that still means you’re in a different transit zone. That’s $3 one-way.

4. “Uptown in Brentwood, you’ll find brand-name and new-name shopping, familiar and offbeat restaurants, community centers (sic) and elementary schools. Everything from Save On Foods to Home Depot, Cactus Club to Blue Ruby.”

I guess the brand name is the Sears. Or the Canadian Tire? Or the crappiest Staples store on the face of the earth. (Oh, it’s bad. It smells like desperate teenagers and sour chicken soup.)

New-name might be Winners? Or the Church’s Chicken. That’s new. I don’t recommend it, though.

And speaking of food: you’v got your White Spot, Tim Hortons, Cactus Club, Boston Pizza and Milestones…and that’s BEFORE you get as far as the mall, er, Brentwood Community. The Brentwood Commmunity has all kinds of food in its FOOD FAIR. Mmm, haute cuisine.

Yes, we have one elementary school. And one high school. The one I attended. The one where all the bad kids who got kicked out of their high schools got sent. But hey – it’s been 12 years, maybe it’s improved. I noticed the last time I drove by that the school motto is still “Where the best get better.” That was the legacy of OUR grad class y’know. True story.

5. “One Madison Avenue – fresh as lime zest.”

They saw green, green meant go, but go was bad. They wanted stay. They saw green, green meant environment, but environment was political. They saw green, green meant fresh fruit…Thai food…Thai food is popular! Lime zest! OMA = lime zest!

The penthouses start at $739,900, which is a steal for a penthouse. Especially one with a view of two highways and a skytrain line!

I just think – people are going to buy your dumb condos. They will be driving by, on their way to somewhere, and see that you are building towers and they will inquire and then buy the condos. Do you have to subject us to your horrible advertising? Are you really trying to convince anyone that a stretch of Gilmore Street that is currently (perpetually) being re-paved so that when the rains come it doesn’t flood is going to be a border street for a new, sophisticated lifestyle-d community? Home Depot on one side, White Spot on the other, that place that sells the cheap sausages up the way and a big mushy pile of dirt where your two towers will stand? Save the ink & the trees and get thee to Coal Harbour. G’wan. Git.

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7 Responses to OMA!

  1. Mellissa says:

    342 units!!! In the middle of an industrial park! hmmph. Sounds like you got some new neighbors? My heart goes out to you. Great blog!
    Mellissa

  2. duncan fears progress says:

    “Everything from Save On Foods to Home Depot, Cactus Club to Blue Ruby!” Wow. That’s one crazy cornucopia of selection. The flavour of Manhattan?
    Have you ever tasted Manhattan? Newspaper, urine, brick dust and grit. Mmm-mm!

  3. Crystal says:

    Hello,
    I just happened to find your site by googling “Vancouver One Madison Avenue OMA” and saw that it was a blog. I thought it was a blog about a future resident of OMA; hoping to get information outside of their usual pitch. I now realize that your site it is the exact opposite. I’m looking for a “wonderful, delusional, sparkly champagne planet” of my own. You bring up a few points, that I hadn’t fully considered. I’ve only begun the search to acquire real-estate of my own. Coming from Ottawa, ON (last October), I was completely floored when I saw the average house prices in the “approximate” vicinity (100kms) of Vancouver. That’s when I started looking towards the purchase of a condo expecting that they would be a little more affordable. Although I’ve fallen in love with a few of the heritage-building-turned-condo spaces, I realize that *this* illusion of a condo is also way out of my budget. That’s when I started looking for even more affordable real-estate (enter OMA). I’m not convinced it’s the sort of building I’d like to live in. Your blog has helped to present another view that I had not considered.
    I’ve read a couple of your other blogs (i.e. Smurfs) and I really enjoy your writing style. I think this site will definitely be one that I will be revisiting!

  4. Jack says:

    Well, true true with what you said, but i can’t help it….still buying into the oma life.

  5. Tom says:

    Great Blog. I am from New York and was just in Vancouver (my wife is from there). I love your perspective of the condos and the reality you present. In New York we are beginning to cool off from this condo craze. I see Vancouver getting overbuilt in the pre Olympic craze. Over the last 12 years I have seen Vancouver explode with housing. Real Estate is very cyclical. I predict the prices with come down in the next year or so. The interest rates are going up. I really think the post-Olympic period will be the make or break time. I could take a dump. Most cities after the Olympics become strapped for cash and go broke.
    Anyway I thought the SOHO in the 80’s commment was hilarious. I was in SOHO in the 80’s. It was artists living in industrual loft warehouse space. Brentwood was a suburb of Vancouver in the 80’s. SOHO was becoming what it is now. These big towers are in that location because of the skytrain. Each stop now has these clusters of hi rise apartments. Its a shame the developers are on steriods out there like they are here. What goes up must come down. This real estate frenzy is taking a turn and has peaked.
    This time next year it should be a buyers market again.

  6. Toney says:

    wow, you sure are bitter. Amazing how one little flyer set you off. I love the area, its cute, trendy and young. I can’t afford downtown prices. Its nice to be walking distance to a neighbourhood community, with a Winners (love it), bakery, coffee shops, the best gym in BC (Golds) and lots of other new little shops and places to eat. Works for me, sorry it does not work for you, so dont live there. Go buy a house or live downtown, or by the beach, because I guess you can afford the luxury!

  7. Chris says:

    Stumbled upon this blog. 7 years later the Brentwood area has changed greatly with more condos, restaurants and shopping on the way. I purchased a 1 br condo at the pre-sale phase and has seen the prices skyrocket. The area is in demand with seemingly the 1 bedrooms leading the way.

    Although, I no longer live at OMA, I look forward to what the Brentwood area has in store after another 7 years.