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The hard times of a developer, from the inside

November 14th, 2008 · 8 Comments

I have this story in today’s Globe and Mail about Tony Pappajohn, a local guy, who has been caught in the economic downdraft and credit squeeze. That’s put in jeopardy the beautifully designed new tower he was building on Hastings Street, a sad chapter for a family that’s part of the history of Vancouver.

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  • Sharon

    every developer has friends and enemies – and I am sure Jameson Corp is no exception. However, one cannot help but respect a Developer that has enough guts and integrity to put on the breaks before other partners/contractors/subtrades are out of pocket and therefore at risk. I am a big fan of locally born success stories and I have no doubt that this story will have a happy ending – sooner or later.

  • Ben Postlethwaite

    Bula…. While I can sympathize with the adjective “local” in your phrase “a local guy,” it is hard to stretch that feeling on to the word “developer”. Many people, local and not-so-local, will get caught with their pants down now that the lights have come on. This was after all a balls-to-the-wall condo orgy where money flowed more freely than the cement being poured for the foundations of yet another tower. Your tone in that article seems to excuse any personal responsibility these people have for ignoring the massive risk of playing an intensely overheated market. Save us from reading the transcripts of toasts being given in Vancouver’s new party circuit, the personal responsibility absolving pity party.

  • julia

    like Developers or not like Developers you have to tip your hat to a company that does not leave its contractors high and dry. I like to cheer for the local guys that make it by investing in their own communities and I sincerely hope the Pappajohn family gets through this crisis intact.

  • I’m in the business of giving the real estate machine a hard time, but even I’m moved by Mr. Pappajohn’s integrity and sincerity in how he’s handling this situation. Kudos to Tony for being straight-up about the challenges rather than spinning us into oblivion. Developers like Onni should take note.

  • tommi

    So you love this developer, but hate the rest? So, who are the “bad” and “good” developers? Vision and Condohype have been demonizing developers for years, so, I find it highly amusing to see them here posting love notes about this one.

  • julia

    how we forget that people like Pappajohn take risks but also create a of a lot of jobs in this town. No EI for him, no pension unless he creates one for himself but I forgot – being successful is a sin in this city and we can hardly wait to gloat when things get tough.

  • A. G. Tsakumis

    I wasn’t going to post on this issue. Being a former developer and coming from a successful developer (my father), I thought it might look rather gratuitous…but this is indeed a very rare occasion.

    I have known the Pappajohn brothers from the time we were all kids. Tony, John and Tom learned the real estate business on their father’s knee. Jimmy was an exceedingly loving man to his three boys and his wife Jenny. You couldn’t find a guy of that vintage who spent more time with his sons, teaching them, challenging them to do better, to be better.

    I learned the real estate business, from everybody else…

    Jimmy Pattison once gave me a piece of great advice that I’ve never forgotten. He said, “Alec, some of the best deals I’v ever done, are deals I’ve never done…”

    I’ve been where Pappajohn is…you never forget the taste of your own blood on your teeth…

    It takes balls the size of godamned stadiums to take the risk these guys took–they simply ran out of time. I will not get into whether it was a deal worth doing, like others have, that’s the Pappajohn’s business. They’re more than good enough to handle that end on their own. But the notion that they are somehow to blame or did something they shouldn’t have, is utterly asinine and, frankly, unfair, if not unkind.

    It is rare to find anyone in business with that kind of integrity, to stop a project like that and not jeopardize so many others in the pecking order of the particular proposition.

    I sincerely hope they come out of this.

    If there is an award for integrity in business, then this year’s winners have to be Tony, John and Tom, who obviously never forgot the lessons learned…

    Jimmy and Jenny, I’m sure, are looking down and smiling.

    They have every, every reason to…

  • Tommi, I’m glad you’re amused. Condohype is a comedy site about the irrational exuberance of Vancouver condo marketing. It’s hardly mean-spirited to poke fun at a billion-dollar business whose marketing strategy comes down to close-ups of chrome faucets and coffee cups.