Three strikes and you’re out

The Hills Vancouver

“[The Hills] is a flagship development by a reputable team, at the heart of an area rich in diversity and opportunity.  You don’t want to miss it.” –Bob Rennie, 2008

“We have been informed by the developer that they will no longer be proceeding with this project as planned.”
–Email notice from Rennie Marketing Systems, February 4, 2009

Condos are his castles but it’s not all easy being king.  Royal realtor Bob Rennie, Vancouver’s original billion-dollar baby, is losing his crown jewels.  Dead as of today is The Hills Vancouver.

Pitched with the tagline “Nanaimo is the new Main” — never mind that Kingsway’s still Kingsway — The Hills is the third Rennie-marketed condo to flop since Halloween.  It joins Jameson House and The Ritz-Carlton Vancouver in the rapidly expanding Rennie condo graveyard.  (This is to say nothing of Millennium Water, which is on life-support thanks to our publicly funded real-estate healthcare system.)

The Hills website is still afloat but expect a scrubbing soon.   I’m sure Rennie’s staff hasn’t looked at it since they made it — that’s usually how these things go.  The news-and-events section conveniently ends at September 15th [screen grab] with a news clipping on B.C.’s “immunity” to the financial crisis.  There’s also a Sun article with a big photo of Jim Flaherty saying there’s no housing bubble.

You can’t make this stuff up.

50 Responses to “Three strikes and you’re out”

  1. condohype Says:

    Thanks to the many of you who sent in news tips about this. Consider yourselves official Condohype interns. (In true industry fashion, it’s an unpaid internship.)

  2. jesse Says:

    With the departure of Wally’s Burgers there aren’t too many old school landmarks on Kingsway anymore. At least now we have the Eldorado and 2400 for a little while longer.

  3. carpenter Says:

    There’s usually a point in the movie where the action starts coming on quite frantic. If the movie was called “HOUSING: A BETTER TOMORROW” this would be the point where things start to get very interesting. And I don’t think there’s a happy ending.

  4. other ted Says:

    What Wally burgers is gone. This boom really sucks. All the good landmarks are now gone.

  5. other ted Says:

    jesse Says:

    February 5, 2009 at 12:18 am
    With the departure of Wally’s Burgers there aren’t too many old school landmarks on Kingsway anymore. At least now we have the Eldorado and 2400 for a little while longer.”

    What about that old motel where the millenium bomber stayed out of and planned his infamous NewYears 2000 attempted bombing of the space needle.
    That sort of is a landmark.

  6. dingus Says:

    Y’know, I just can’t imagine a worse fate than living in a condo on the site of the El-do-friggin-rado cold beer and wine store. I mean, c’mon….!

  7. macchiato Says:

    The question I keep asking is how do cancellations, especially those with existing pre-sale contracts, effect the bottom line for rennie?

    Looks like rennie is down commissions on hundreds of millions of product at this point. If he really believed what he was saying about the market never dying then he would have been counting on this money. I would expect this to hit pretty hard and would be interested to know what a typical condo marketer’s contract entails.

  8. Will Says:

    @Other Ted The 2400 motel stands for now but plans are in the works for that area to become a city hub more formally know as Norquay Village. They are still deciding what to do with the “heritage” suites at the 2400 motel.

    The Hills… the hills… Oh, wait! Who was supposed to be the developer? Anyone, anyone? Holborn! Yes, those fine developers of marketing materials and holes in the ground. That would be the third strike you should dig into. Nanaimo Hotel/convention centre, Ritz, and The Hills. It’s really no surprise that a company as large and successful as Rennie has projects cancelled but remember that they just handle the marketing and sales – not the development. To point anything to them would be like pointing at Chiat Day and saying “14 products with ad campaigns designed by Chiat day have gone into Chapter 11” – completely irrelevant to the consumer. And I’m sure Rennie Marketing has been paid for time and effort spent.

  9. Boombust Says:

    I hope Rennie goes down like Trump did in the early ’80’s. And stays down.

  10. Happy Renter in North Vancouver Says:

    Maybe Rennie will have to sell some of his garbage trendoid art collection to stay afloat…

  11. condohype Says:

    Condo marketing firms are typically paid per unit sold. By sold, I mean pre-sale sold, regardless of whether the project goes ahead. There’s no reason to believe Rennie Marketing Systems won’t be compensated for the pre-sale buyers they delivered to Holborn.

    This is not to say Rennie finished ahead on this job. There’s a lot of costs to recoup before the project marketer makes a profit. In condo marketing, the marketer assumes the cost of branding, newspaper ads, showroom and staff, website, etc.

    While Rennie may not be the developer, it isn’t good for his brand to be involved with failed developments.

  12. Will Says:

    Oops… let me correct my comment. Their three strikes do not include the Nanaimo project (that would be Millennium… fire away on that one, boys and girls). Holburn was, however, involved in a project before that failed to get off the ground in Whistler.

    And for those out to get Rennie, let me defend the guy. He elevated the marketing of condo projects not just locally but internationally. He raised the art form. You may not like what he said in the media but you cannot fault someone truly dedicated to their profession, their clients, and wildly successful beyond any previously set bar. If any business critique can be handed to the man it is that he really didn’t push the Rennie Resales (now Rennie and Associates) division early enough to completely dominate that segment of the market. And every realtor will at some point have a listing (stats from some top producers I speak with are actually in the 50% range and that was during the good times) that will not sell… his just happen to be higher profile. I don’t believe it has any effect on his brand.

  13. betamax Says:

    “I don’t believe it has any effect on his brand.”

    How can it not?

    As for the rest — he was another Nelson Skalbania, a guy with some innate sales skills who was made by the bubble, and now it’s over. Period.

  14. Yakpi Says:

    The proposal is to transform the 2400 Motel 3 acre site into a mixed use development with multi-family residential and commercial space

    The City of Vancouver has a five-year contract with Integrated Hospitality Management to manage the motel. Public consultation and proposals for development will be on-going during this five year period.

  15. Urban Dweller Says:

    Who’s Bob Rennie?

  16. dan Says:

    Waiting for Woodwards to start closing. The problems will get even worse once those homes (purchased at the peak) start closing. With almost all homes sold to investors, who will struggle to get financing, look out.

  17. Ardsa Says:

    I thought that this project was killed months ago. The sign on Nanaimo was taken down months ago (maybe around Christmas).

    Is “The Scene” next?? Their sales centre is the now pink bulding where Wally’s Burgers was.

  18. dg Says:

    Bob Rennie has been around for years. He is a marketer/salesman. You can’t blame him for doing his job. He is not a real estate investment analyst. If you listen to these guys for advice well that’s your problem. I am not a fan of the man but you can’t begrudge him for being good at what he does. As for his brand suffering……what brand? The developers hire him because he is good at creating spin and pressure(urgency) to buy. He creates urgency where there is no need for urgency. Imagine all the people that sat around at parties fretting that they needed to get in or they would be left behind. Fear sells. Ask the media.

  19. macchiato Says:

    Anyone know when the ‘bold’ have to close on the Woodwards presale contracts?

  20. jesse Says:

    other ted, the 2400 IS where the Millenium Bomber stayed according to the CBC documentary.

    The London Guard motel was torn down last year for low rise mixed use. I really can’t think of much left of the original post-war Kingsway other than the 2400.

  21. blueskies Says:

    If the movie was called “HOUSING: A BETTER TOMORROW” this would be the point where things start to get very interesting.

    this is the point in the movie where the audience is yelling at the screen:
    “Don’t go into the basement! OMG! she’s going into the basement!….! NO!”

  22. Factoid Says:

    Don’t forget the Millenium Project/Rennie Marketing, development in West Van. Evelyn Drive, this one seems to get lost in the fold alot.
    It has had the presentation house blacked out and the Spring Preview banner is gone!!

  23. Urban Dweller Says:

    I thought The Hills was filmed in Los Angeles…

  24. macchiato Says:

    Apparently Rennie has suffered from massive stress-related acid reflux and indigestion from the implosion of the condo market.

    Well, the rat got back on the wheel at Rennie Marketing Systems. In a serendipitous breakthrough, Bob came up with a winner …. I present to you Rennie’s latest venture to help cure all those afflicted by the same stresses and consequences he faces:

    Currently available in Europe.

  25. condohype Says:

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I don’t have a problem with Bob Rennie. Actually, I have a lot of respect for him professionally. He’s a very good real estate marketer. What he pulled with Woodward’s still has me in awe. He’s also a sincere champion of Vancouver. For better or for worse, the guy believes in this place.

    I can’t agree that there’s no brand impact to the cancellations. Rennie Marketing Systems isn’t just a little listings agent. It’s a major consultancy. Bob advises developers on what will sell and what won’t. They look to him so they can build condos that sell. Think about it in reverse. Can we say Rennie’s successes have no impact to his brand? Obviously not. His ability to sell winners is his brand.

  26. Boombust Says:

    “If the movie was called “HOUSING: A BETTER TOMORROW”’

    Oh! How I Laffed and laffed at that one!

  27. dg Says:

    I don’t disgaree with you on the fact that he has a relationship with the developers. If you want to call it brand on that end then so be it. I really don’t think people say “Wow” Bob Rennie is the marketing company so I want to buy that unit. I mean when I buy Tide detergent I don’t go wow I am buying this detergent because Ogilvy and Mather are the marketers.
    People buy the product not the marketers. That’s where I differ on the “Rennie Brand”.

  28. TaxHaven Says:

    I like that.

    “Living starts at $239.000.”

    As if life is only possible in an overpriced concrete box overlooking Kingsway…

  29. patriotz Says:

    He’s also a sincere champion of Vancouver. For better or for worse, the guy believes in this place.

    Yes well the Mafia believed in Las Vegas. What matters is what kind of place you believe in.

  30. Joseph Jones Says:

    Way back when (2006), the developer asked for 18 storeys. City planners said “Oh, why not 22?” and by Oct. 2008 at the Developer Permit Board it sprouted to 24 — replete with a nasty off-lime-green vertical stripe.

    For gruesome details and eyewitness backstory on “The Hills,” check out

    and comment #6 at

    The billboards at Kingsway and Nanaimo came down on Nov. 12, 2008. Unfortunately, the neighborhood-busting rezoning leaves an invisible residue, even if the project itself has collapsed.

    Across and down the road at The Scene they were still digging deeper a few days ago.

  31. Happy Renter in North Vancouver Says:

    WOW Patriotz, you have to win the award for the best zinger “Year to Date” in 2009… Bugsey Segal would be proud… if he wouldn’t have been whacked so many years ago by his Las Vegas “associates”…

    BTW, condohype, I don’t think “His ability to sell winners is his brand.”… I would modify you statement to “his ability to hook up with the scummiest of developers and sell whatever is offered is his brand…” Just take a look at the company he keeps… It’s not exactly “top shelf”…

  32. chico Says:

    I can’t believe no one has commented on your reference to publicly funded real estate health care systems.

    While I’m not interested in funding that, I love the free laughs I get on this site. You’re a wonder CH!


  33. anon Says:

    Hey I live in Vegas. There isn’t one old timer in the town who’ll tell you the place was better when the mob ran it. Neighborhood gangs or gang violence was unthinkable; top flight free entertainment 24/7; they comped folks like crazy and would buy a ticket to send you home if you tapped out. The 1970’s were the last good decade for Vegas; everything after was corporate hotel accountant budget slashing suicidal mayhem.

    Vegas used to reek of money and class; it needed to with who was in charge. Now it reeks of crash. Even the illegals are leaving in droves, leaving empty suburbs as far as the eye can see with dead lawns and infested swimming pools.

  34. Anon Says:

    FYI, there is a lineup for the H+H sales bash as i type this. Party tent and all, to keep the suckers from getting wet (for now).

  35. greg Says:

    Looks like Bob is diversifying – latest venture? Marketing dusty clearcuts all over Vancouver Island. Where, by these actions, the lie is put to that old chestnut about they’re not making more land…

    Thanks for helping to convert all those unprofitable tree farms into ‘burbs, Bob, like we need more Langford in Jordan River, if you know what I mean…

  36. Tony Danza Says:

    I guess Timberwest never got the memo about the housing bubble implosion. Good luck with Jordan River condos.

  37. Greenhorn Says:

    You forgot to add Wall South East False Creek to the graveyard of Rennie deals. Where is his midas touch. It looks like he is only good at selling condos in a boom.

  38. anon Says:

    worked on a condo today that has three lien notices posted at the main entrance. i think it will give buyers a little more bargaining power

  39. West Coast Woman Says:

    It appears Vancouver’s new City Council has bought the hype that there’s still demand because Onni’s liquidation sale went so well. And Bob Rennie’s still in the picture. See:

  40. West Coast Woman Says:

    The Globe and Mail, February 6, 2009, Frances Bula article

  41. Maurice Troy Lamont Says:

    Bob Rennie is tooooooooooooooo adorable. But you people can’t see that. Can’t see what he has done for Vancouver and West Vancouver by extension.

    You have to LOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE marketing. Marketing works.

    Me, I am PR all the way, girlfriend. Bob Rennie is like the Lower Mainland’s King Arthur, due to return when we need him most, to draw his sword and smite you all!

    I am loooooooooooooong Rennie. All y’all should be, too.

  42. Joseph Jones in a nut Says:

    Wow I’m surprised to see Joseph Jones in here( didn’t know you used a computer, after your hand written door to door propaganda campaign last year, you’re quite infamous in Norquay village as a nutbar who wants to keep the area down and out. I have no doubt you will continue with your survey stuffing like last time trying to stop every development from changing the area into something more. Fortunately for us you weren’t successful in stopping the process. Look forward to seeing you at the upcoming workshops. I’m sure you’re happy this project has been placed on hold for the time being, but we both know it will still go ahead at a future date. The neighbourhood will welcome it when it does finally get built.

  43. Joseph Jones Says:

    How do you know I’m me? I’m sure you aren’t you. Perhaps you are the infamous MK. You could call yourself Libel Ad Hominem next time. At least I can type clean and close a paragraph.

  44. Boombust Says:

    “Vegas used to reek of money and class”

    Vegas is a DUMP.

  45. Strataman Says:

    Sorry Condohype off topic but I have to wonder how this will work. Many critical trades (myself included) will be gone during the Olympics, either to partake in the Olympic venues or (more common) to leave the city and enjoy a relaxing vacation in some warmer climate. So question! 🙂 If your renting a strata unit for say $1000.00 a night and that client has say “no hot water, no elevator, little emergency service etc how would that affect the contract for payment?

  46. Strataman Says:

    Maybe I should clarify a bit. We have standing contract response times they will be maintained on a first come first serve basis. These response times are based on Strata maintenance fees NOT RENTAL INCOME. So it is irrelevant to critical trades how much is being received by the owner of a Strata unit and a young couple who own there unit will receive the same response as an owner receiving $1000.00 per night. The strata is not benefiting from the increased income.

  47. dg Says:

    I assume your question is how does this play out – the relationships in the strata corporation. Well as you said the strata doesn’t benefit from these rents that the owners will receive but that said the strata corp is responsible to all owners to maintain all common property.
    Why do you think your company or any others will change the level of service during the olympics? The strata corp has contracts with all the critical maintenance contractors and it is the contractors’ responsibility to attend to emergency call outs and mitigate any losses. This relationship should not change. The strata corp is also covered by an insurance policy. This insurance policy covers common property and also has a component in it that covers council members while on council for any error in decision making.
    I managed strata corps for about 5 years. The above is only a broad scope and any specific situatution would require an arbritrator or condo lawyer.

  48. RJB Says:

    Great, now the world will believe we are shameless price gougers. That should create some sustainable tourism.

  49. Strataman Says:

    “Why do you think your company or any others will change the level of service during the olympics?”
    Didn’t mean that; it will be the same. For instance every weekend about 15 or 20 towers may be down to one elevator. Residents are used to the remaining ones not being fixed till Monday. If your paying 5 star hotel rates how would that affect the rental agreements? I was wondering how clear it is to the guests that building problems and there are always lots will be dealt with on a normal schedule. Same goes for hot water, pool equipment failure and so on. Not unusual for me to suddenly shut down a pool for instance; generally for 3 or 4 business days (getting parts from the US). So if I have rented and paid a lot of money and have no pool or whatever what happens? 🙂 (Besides the irate guest trashing the place). I have some experience in this where a complaint comes in from a high end furnished rental and for some reason they expect extraordinary overtime service which the strata will not authorize. I agree with RJB that many of the memories of visitors will be mostly of price gouging! 🙂

  50. anon Says:

    Boombbust- That was my point.

    That wasn’t the case 1955-1970. If you didn’t visit it then, then of course you wouldn’t know.

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