Wait ... Vancouver's newest tower goes for how much?

Vancouverites are used to hearing how expensive the real estate market is, but the city's newest tower has managed to surprise residents — once again. 

A studio apartment starts at just over $1 million at the new luxurious tower at 1550 Alberni Street.

"You basically have to be a multimillionaire to live there," said Michael Straker, who has lived in the West End for over two decades. 

The 43-storey tower designed by Japanese starchitect Kengo Kuma and Vancouver-based developer Westbank is described as nothing less than spectacular. 

The average price is $2,000 per square foot for the curved silhouette skyscraper. 

While Straker welcomes the tower's unique architecture, he worries what it will do to the neighbourhood. 

"You know it is going to be mainly empty and bought as an investment and even people with really good jobs won't be able to afford it," he said. 

A troubling prophecy for a neighbourhood like Coal Harbour where 22.2 per cent of homes are empty or non-resident occupied, according to 2016 data gathered by Simon Fraser University's Andy Yan.

"What bothers people is a lot of construction is happening but a lot of the new projects don't seem to be affordable to locals," said Josh Gordon, assistant professor at the School of Public Policy at Simon Fraser University. 

"It doesn't seem to be catered to what locals can afford, so they feel shut out of the market," said Gordon.

The tower's developer said the majority of interest has come from the Canadian market.

Local architect Michael Geller doesn't doubt units will be scooped up by investors, but he argues there are numerous benefits to a development like this. 

"The developers are paying a significant financial contribution to the city, which can then be used by the city to fund new amenities or go to affordable housing fund," said Geller. 

Increase competition

Vancouver developer Jon Stovell insists in order to stop the continued inching up of real estate prices, supply needs to go up. 

"If there were seven other high rises marketing at the same time in the same area, the price wouldn't be as high," he said. 

"You get a tower launched in downtown Vancouver every six to eight months .... if there were six to eight [towers launched] every one month, you wouldn't see this kind of price escalation," he said.