A couple of months ago, Martin and I wrote a few posts discussing the new development being planned for the site of the Plains Hotel: the name, potential design aesthetics, examples of other projects that could/should be used for inspiration. I am not sure if any readers attended the open house/focus group sessions that were hosted, but both Martin and I did on separate occasions. As soon as I got to the focus group I knew that one of us should write some sort of update on what happened: what the plans are, what the crowd was like, etc. So, I asked Martin to send me his thoughts on his session and I made notes of my own impressions. This update is going to be in two separate posts, simply because there is a lot to say.
In both of our focus groups the room was really quiet. I believe each session had enough chairs for probably 20-25 people, but most people weren’t really chatty. Martin observed that most of the people in his session looked closer to retirement than in the prime of their careers, while my session had a number of people in their mid-30s. In both of our sessions there was significant representation from Regina’s east-Asian community present. The Kim family owns the Plains Hotel, and it’s possible that there are a number of Korean families that are interested in living or investing in this new project.
For myself, and Martin, the night was interesting because it was a new experience. I had expected an open house style setting where people got to see some of the preliminary thoughts and give some ideas as to what they thought the project should bring to the downtown. In reality it was a focus group designed for potential investors and buyers and they wanted to get some sense of what options people wanted in their luxury condos.
Martin noted, “The concept of life-styling or designing for a certain lifestyle with “hospitality architecture” was interesting but the range of options perhaps appeals to a demographic I’m not a part of. Answering questions on whether the kitchen counter should be granite or marble, or if the floor should be heated in the bedroom or bathroom is not in my reality at all, and seemed bizarre.” I felt very similar – most of the questionnaire was irrelevant to me. I don’t have a minimum $200,000 to spend on a condo, and the options presented really don’t fit my needs or wants. In short, I am not their demographic. Martin also added an important point here, “right away when they were talking about these being luxury condos, I knew that this project will not relieve vacancy rates in the near future.”
So, we will leave this first update at that. The next post will touch on the two topics that stood out for Martin and I: ideas for the exterior design of the building and plans for making the building as “green” as possible. I will also offer a few thoughts about the name issue.