Public gets first look at Olympic Village

By BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency

VANCOUVER - The most expensive venue of Vancouver’s 2010 Winter Olympics opens its doors Saturday morning to the people who paid for it.

The $1.1 billion, 1,100-suite Vancouver Olympic Village, also known as Millennium Water, will be celebrated with an 11 a.m. ribbon-cutting and public tours of nine suites decorated by nine design groups.

Mayor Gregor Robertson gave a giant ceremonial key to VANOC CEO John Furlong last November and is expecting it back. Whistler’s Ashleigh McIvor, the first female Olympic skicross champion, is among the special guests. Medals and other Olympic memorabilia will be on display.

Marketer Bob Rennie said 263 units were sold before the Games and 474 remain. About 40 percent of those, which are in parcels 3, 4 and 6, are now on sale for just under $500,000 to $10 million for what Rennie calls the "front-row penthouse." Parcel 4 is Canada House where Canadian Olympians stayed. The rest of the suites are reserved for rental to emergency services workers, teachers and low-income earners.

City taxpayers rescued the project after a fall 2008 financing crisis. Millennium Developments’ lender Fortress Credit Corporation was replaced with a TD-led syndicate last spring.

Athletes who stayed in the Southeast False Creek complex during the Olympics and Paralympics raved about the resort-style accommodations. The Village was among the most-heavily secured venues of the Games. Rennie said VANOC, however, did not supply a list of which athletes stayed where.

The Australians’ boxing kangaroo flags are all gone and so is evidence of the only reported incident of minor vandalism. QMI columnist Steve Buffery wrote May 4 that “F*** Canada” was scrawled on the corkboard the concealed a kitchen island in a suite occupied by Russian hockey players. The graffiti happened after the host nation embarrassed Russia 7-3 in a quarterfinal.

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