Realtors began taking bids on Vancouver's Olympic Village condos on Saturday morning, showcasing nine uniquely decorated suites outfitted by top-tier Canadian design firms.

Nine firms, including CHIL Design Group, Alda Periera Design and Kodu Design, modeled the suites using a variety of inspirations ranging from Asian and Parisian décor to the Olympics.

Kodu Design principal Merike Lainevool used the concept of the "Canadian athlete," with elements evoking speed, strength, fitness and beauty.

"My favourite part has to be the hockey stick table," Lainevool said of one last-minute addition to the unit, which was constructed using 300 hockey sticks. "I just love the result. I think it came off fantastic."

Handing back the keys to the village

About 470 housing units ranging in price from less than $400,000 to more than $10 million went on the market Saturday after VANOC head John Furlong officially returned the keys to the village back to Mayor Gregor Robertson.

In a short statement, Robertson boasted of the platinum Leeds certification the completed village received.

"There's no other neighbourhood that has scored as high as this for sustainability and green features," he said. "That's a huge achievement."

But critics, who held their own event at the village under the slogan "False promises on False Creek," said the project's eco-friendly focus may have contributed to the city's decision to axe social housing units from the project.

Maxim Winther of activist group VanAct said the green features of the village helped drive up construction costs, ultimately making it economically irresponsible to use them for low-income housing.

"The initial vision for the Olympic Village was to have one-third affordable, one-third social, and one-third market unaffordable housing," Winther said. "Those that were responsible for the mismanagement of this project should be held responsible."

Last month, Robertson announced the city would be cutting the number of units reserved for "core-needs" households in half, from 252 to 126 of the 1,100 total.

The other 126 will be rented out at market rates, with priority given to people working in Vancouver's health and public safety sectors.

Recouping the city's investment

Controversy has circled the Olympic Village since City Hall was forced to bail out the project's developer to the tune of almost $200 million.

Bob Rennie of Rennie Marketing Systems, the firm responsible for selling the Olympic Village homes and recouping the city's investment, is confident all of the project's 474 units will sell, but says it might take time.

"Let's not kid ourselves: this isn't a one-month sell out," he said. "This is finished product. Vancouver is typically a presale market where you've got 50 per cent investors and 50 per cent homeowners."

Rennie says the units could take up to two years to sell.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Renu Bakshi