PILOTHOUSE is the NewsLeader’s New Westminster 2011 NEWSMAKER OF THE YEAR

Kathy Taylor and Bill Morrison of PIlothouse take a look at the scale model of their project planned for 258 Sixth St. in New Westminster.  - Mario Bartel/NewsLeader
Kathy Taylor and Bill Morrison of PIlothouse take a look at the scale model of their project planned for 258 Sixth St. in New Westminster.
— image credit: Mario Bartel/NewsLeader

Pilothouse real estate marketing has helped sell projects around the world. But it’s selling their own community that really ignites their passions.

And that’s what has made the NewsLeader select them as the 2011 New Westminster Newsmaker of the Year.

Pilothouse was founded in 2004 by Vince Taylor and Bill Morrison. All the principals live in New Westminster, says Craig Anderson, the company’s project manager and its first employee.

This past year they were able to make a significant contribution to the Royal City’s urban renaissance with their innovative sales campaigns for three hometown projects that comprised 250 condos and townhomes.

In the often-hot real estate environs of Metro Vancouver, New Westminster was late to the game, but is suddenly scalding.

And Pilothouse is helping stoke the fire, creating the kind of buzz usually only seen elsewhere.

When Pilothouse convinced Wanson Development to forgo the HST on its 8 West project at 21 Eighth Ave. near Royal Square Mall, the resulting media coverage helped it sell out in just one hour and 42 minutes.

“We have to know the developer is open to new ideas,” says Anderson of their anti-HST marketing campaign that plugged into the province-wide debate surrounding the controversial tax on the eve of a referendum to determine its fate. “Our job is to create want.”

For its next project, a concrete tower at 258 Sixth St., Pilothouse worked with the developer to keep the price of suites as low as possible, then helped reconfigure the floor plans to make the small units attractive to buyers.

To better show off the fruits of their labours, they then developed a unique projection system that allowed prospective buyers to walk through a virtual simulation of the suites.

Again the innovation turned heads and the project sold out in 42 minutes. One buyer even traveled from New York City.

Anderson says by keeping prices low, they’re helping attract younger residents to the city, first-time buyers who’ve been priced out of Vancouver and young families who need more space than their mortgage could get them in Yaletown.

They’re bringing with them their urban sensibilities and expectations; the SkyTrain may be able to whisk them to either end of Metro Vancouver in 20 minutes, but they also want to eat in good restaurants, drink good coffee, catch a movie close to home.

Pilothouse was chosen as the Newsmaker of the Year because it is an example of a Royal City business that has promoted projects abroad—including Mexico, Hawaii and Palm Springs—but has turned its focus on a market that they feel makes good business sense: New Westminster.

They’re not the first marketer to see the city’s potential, but their marketing approach has positioned them as a leader.

As new projects bring new residents and new energy, it appears businesses and the city are responding.

Restaurants and pubs along the Columbia Street strip have renovated. A new retail and movie complex is opening at the New Westminster SkyTrain station. After being mostly closed for two years, the River Market is reopened, including a new upscale urban eatery, Wild Rice. Lafflines comedy club has moved from its cramped, dark space on Fourth Street to swank new digs in the old Columbia Theatre.

The city itself has stepped up with its development of Westminster Pier Park and the new civic centre.

In the last six years, developers have built six new towers in the Downtown and transformed the old Woodlands site into a residential area of condos and townhomes.

“Now New West is on the radar,” says Anderson. “Projects are starting to overlap and that creates momentum. New West is being reborn and it’s nice to be a part of it.”

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