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From the 25th floor of the Private Residences at Hotel Georgia, Bruce Langereis is digging the view. He takes me into the master bathroom of a two-bedroom suite—sconce lighting, lacquer cabinetry, and cast-iron tub with white marble deck all thanks to designer Mitchell Freedland—and directs my attention to the mirror. Looking back is the 53-year-old developer of this massive flared tower and the attached Rosewood Hotel Georgia, tanned after jaunts to Panama, Vegas, the Charlottes, and excited following last night’s walk-through with high-end realtors. But the view behind his reflection—that’s what he’s really keen on. For $2.25 million, imagine flossing your teeth while looking down at Robson Square, across the West End, beyond Burrard Inlet.
It’s a new, polished beginning. The Hotel Georgia declined steadily after its 1927 opening, finally shuttering in 2006 for a $120 million revamp. When it reopened last year, downtown life changed—its Hawksworth restaurant is power-lunch central; the chic Reflections bar has dramatically surpassed expectations. International hotel awards are being swept and five-star recognition is rumoured. Langereis hopes for the same flowering at the Hornby Street residences, which, when buyers move into the 156 suites at the end of this year or beginning of next, will swell the city’s stock of luxe aeries (Shangri-La, Fairmont) supported by swish hotel services.
Langereis himself comes from humbler stock. Born in East Van, he had a lively childhood and was kicked out of high school after flooding the boys’ locker room, a prank that sent him to the Oakridge police station. Years later, touring that same station, which he hoped to sell for redevelopment, he wondered if clients might spot his mug shot on the wall.
The clients—Singapore-based Delta Overseas—liked the deal so much they acquired Langereis himself. He’d worked as a longshoremen mechanic until a master’s in marketing management got him that real-estate job; he’s been head of Delta Land Development since 1997.
Delta bought the Georgia for $62.8 million. Unlike some of his competitors, Langereis says, he doesn’t multitask; he clearly knows, and loves, every detail of this building, and won’t shift his attention from what he sees as his legacy until that day when every suite is sold. Well, every suite but one. A climber, floatplane enthusiast, and former Canadian freestyle ski champ, he’s attracted to heights.