The Barriere subdivision called Riverwalk was first offered to the marketplace in the spring of 2009. Since that time it has progressed and grown, bringing to Barriere its first community sewer, and embracing green energy by installing the homes with geothermal heating and cooling.
Last year Riverwalk was restructured to overcome unexpected challenges that were affecting the project.
Recently the Star/Journal contacted Wes Beharrell, who owns and operates West Properties and Developments Inc. to ask him about the status of Riverwalk today.
Asked who is Riverwalk, Beharrell answered, “Riverwalk is not a who… Riverwalk is a community vision, coined from its location to the majestic Barriere River.”
He noted that the subdivision/development is owned by West Properties and Developments Inc.
“Riverwalk took birth originally as the Barriere Acres development in 2006 when I purchased the land from the previous developer Kymar Industries,” said Beharrell, “And after significant hurdles, infrastructure began in 2009 with my father (Ken Beharrell) as my General Contractor.
What was the builders involvement with Riverwalk?
“Our previous builder was one of the home builders we approached to help us construct homes in our subdivision,” said Beharrell, “ Upon being impressed by the work presented to us in Vernon, and speaking with some satisfied home owners, we presented the offer to construct homes at Riverwalk. Because of our understanding of Home Warranty at the time, title on lots was passed to the builder with West Properties and Developments Inc maintaining some collateral control through a registered mortgage. The builder was to coordinate all of the tasks of construction, including the agreements between prospective home buyers, and the sales process. This job should not have included accepting a buyers money without disclosure to all parties involved.”
Asked what happened, and is the builder no longer involved with Riverwalk, Beharrell noted that financing for the subdivision and the construction of homes at Riverwalk was arranged by himself, Ken Beharrell, and West Properties and Developments Inc, with interest costs to be shared between West Properties and Developments Inc and the builder. The builder received all of the proceeds of the construction loan for four houses and began construction, but some suspicion was raised shortly after as homes under construction failed to make significant progress.
Within the first year, Ken Beharrell had not received payment for the electrical work he had performed and was quickly made aware that other contractors performing work on homes at Riverwalk were not receiving payments on time, either, if at all.
As more and more concerns became evident, and the accusations towards the builder mounted, he said the Beharrells determined a stop loss had to be imposed immediately, after which, all of the mounting concerns became evident through the uncovering of multiple liens placed on the homes under construction at Riverwalk.
The Beharrells then determined that no further construction contracts would be permitted with the builder.
“Five Riverwalk homes – two in various stages of completion, remain in the previous builder’s control, with foreclosure proceedings imminent,” said Wes Beharrell, “West Properties and Developments Inc is positioning to reclaim them and finance their completion for an ultimate perspective home buyer, if the previous home builder doesn’t resolve the position on his own, sooner.”
Asked about how these events have impacted Riverwalk financially he stated, “Many people have been financially impacted by the performance or lack thereof, but I can only speak for Ken and myself first hand. There are the immediate losses (interest costs, financing without sufficient collateral, etc). Ken has over $50,000 in labour, trucking, and electrical work that remains unpaid. The biggest risk for Riverwalk is the project in general. In a suppressed housing market, you can’t afford bad publicity, as this can lead to a buyer (and right now there are few) looking the other way for fear of smoke.”
How will Riverwalk recover from this setback?
“Tenacity and stubbornness either way,” said Beharrell, “I get them both from my father. Ken and I have worked way too hard to make this a reality for Barriere, but equally importantly – ourselves as a father and son project.”
He noted that growing up in Ontario, while his father resided here in British Columbia, that he and Ken share limited father and son memories… “but this can take the cake”.
“On the business side – we got our feet moving quickly again,” said Beharrell, “We’ve spoken to all of the previous contractors, and the best way to make them whole is to award them all of our business moving forward (of course they still need to be competitive so our homes are priced competitively). We also need to put faith in the idea that people can separate the actions of our previous builder from the project and ultimate vision at Riverwalk. However, regardless what we do, the housing market needs to meet us half way.”
What about the people who lost money through the previous builder relating to Riverwalk?
“Providing some of these people employment opportunities is one way we can help. There are other plans in the works that Ken and I have discussed and are working on viability… but in many of the other cases, we have no control – some will need to continue to seek legal advice.”
Are you moving forward on your own, or will you hire another builder?
“We’ve learned our lesson – once bitten… Ken has more than enough experience in the construction industry to work effectively as a General Contractor and electrician. We have acquired a BC Developers License for West Properties and Developments Inc, licensed with Home Warranty and through Home Owners Protection. Ken has also acquired Home Warranty for KB Energy. We will subcontract trades in construction and framing, etc, using local Barriere skilled labour when possible, allowing us to control cash flows, ensuring everyone gets paid for their services rendered.”
Asked who are your key players in the project of Riverwalk now,” Beharrell said, “Count on seeing me in Barriere a little more often”, as he continues to represent the developer – West Properties and Developments Inc, and to take care of all of the behind the scenes tasks. More importantly though he says the on site players are Ken Beharrell (KB Energy Alternatives) as General Contractor, and Karina Scott (Realtor – Royal Lepage) as Riverwalk’s “sales coordinator,” and Fulton and Company as the projects legal representation.
Beharrell says currently there are “a lot of positives that Ken and I are working on to create some refreshing momentum. Through marketing (www.riverwalkhomes.ca) and new signage to be posted for North and South highway traffic, we hope to attract prospects from other regions. We’ve completed the beautiful home at 4776 Spruce Crescent, which stood incomplete for over a year, and we are enthusiastically pushing to have our first attractive dual family home completed in October. There are also three additional home designs to add to Riverwalk that bring the total repeatable to six. Besides the dual family which is expected to hit the market at $240,000 per side, our target prices for our spec homes are between $300,000 and $400,000 depending on lot selection and house design.”
Beharrell stated Riverwalk’s business relationship with the previous builder have created a lot of hardship.
“Unfortunately these actions are a direct reflection on the project – which was built through the blood sweat and tears of two very honest and humble individuals in myself and my father. Riverwalk is still the untapped best pieces of new real estate to attract home buyers to Barriere… how to remove the negative connotation is the hurdle we now face.”