Innovative theatre used to sell condos

Joe Taylor gives the new virtual suite projection system at the 258 development on 6th Street that displays full-size floorplans in the sales centre as well as 24-hour representations of the views. - MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER
Joe Taylor gives the new virtual suite projection system at the 258 development on 6th Street that displays full-size floorplans in the sales centre as well as 24-hour representations of the views.

Walk into the presentation centre for the 258 condominium project on Sixth Street in New Westminster and there's the usual sales area and design suite. What's not usual is an empty room big enough to put a condo in, or at least the floor plans for one.

Pilothouse Marketing, which has its offices just a few blocks away from the site, has come up with what its owners believe is an innovative way to sell Tridecca Developments' 16-story, 75-unit project with what it calls In-Real Theatre technology.

The centre is a big tent that contains a room with a large white floor and no furniture. Hanging from the metal rafters are 17 projectors connected to nine computers that can illuminate any one of the yet-to-be-built building's seven floor plans on to what is virtually a blank blueprint canvas.

Prospective buyers can 'walk through' the front door and see exactly how the suite is designed. Pilothouse has been using it for the last three weekends and there have been reports many customers have tried to figure out where their furniture might go and even if they can fit in the bathtub.

In addition, on each of the four walls is a huge screen that shows the north, south, east and west views that can be seen from each condo layout. The views are done with time lapse photography providing what it would look like over a 24-hour period in six minutes. The sounds and smells of the area are also included in the experience.

"There was beer involved," joked Pilothouse partner Vince Taylor when asked how the concept was conceived.

He said in doing marketing for previous projects, Pilothouse found many potential buyers would look at floor plans but struggled to get a good visual feel for the condominium once it's built. Customers wanted to understand size and scale, and that was hard to do based on a floor plan on an 8x11 inch piece of paper. So Taylor, fellow partner Bill Morrison and others began to brainstorm.

"What if you could actually walk through your home?" someone asked.

And the concept was born.

"The technology is out there and we're only limited by our imagination. It isn't cost prohibitive," said Taylor.

Carla Kazemi, project coordinator for Tridecca Developments, admits there was some skepticism when Pilothouse pitched the idea. Tridecca's management listened, though, because they had worked with Pilothouse on 8 West which is being built on Eighth Avenue where the old Canadian Tire store used to be.

"We were a little nervous, but as they elaborated on the idea we came around. Based on their past performances they seemed OK so we told them to take it and run with it," said Kazemi. "I am excited it turned out the way we wanted.

"The view for me, was the most stirring part. It's fascinating to see that 24-hour camera go through all the views in six minutes. To see that is mesmerizing."

Kazemi said by last weekend more than 400 groups had come through the centre and the reaction to the innovative concept has been positive.

"People are fascinated by it, I guess because it's new and different. We've had a great reaction," she said.

The true test will come on Nov. 26 when the units officially go on sale.

"We feel very positive it will be a very successful sales day," said Kazemi, who indicated this won't be the last time Tridecca uses the concept. "Now that the system is in place, it's easy to roll into the next project."

Taylor said Pilothouse is already looking to tweak what he calls In-Real-Theatre 1.0 because he knows other marketers will be imitating the system. Pilothouse wants to figure out how they can project walls and colours and other features.

"If we could we'd have a 3D projector so the walls can come up that would be great," said Taylor.

Prices start at $209,000 for a one bedroom and dens, and $238,000 for two bedroom condos with floor plans that range from 579 square feet to 766 sq. ft., except for the penthouses on the top two floors.

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