Posts Tagged ‘Crosstown’

Event: Vancouver Art Gallery public forum and open house

July 7th, 2010

The Vancouver Art Gallery is looking for feedback from Vancouverites on a proposal to move the gallery from its current home, the old courthouse at Robson Square, to a new Crosstown home facing the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

The first event will happen tomorrow, July 7th, downtown at the Robson Square Theatre from 6 to 9pm, with a panel discussion at 7pm hosted by Michael Goldberg, professor emeritus with UBC’s Sauder School of Business.

More information at The Georgia Straight.



Western Investor: Retail Revival

May 15th, 2008

Dermot Mack and Andrew Petrozzi
May 2008
Western Investor

Vancouver street-front retail space may become the darling of commercial real estate this year due to authoritarian mall owners and a change in traffic flows. 

Increasingly, major mall space in Metro Vancouver is in fewer hands, allowing the owners to dictate rates and tenancy requirements that have some tenants chaffing. 

Oakridge Centre, Metropolis in Burnaby and Guildford Shopping Centre in Surrey, for instance, are all owned by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, which runs them through subsidiary Ivanhoe Cambridge. A separate Caisse subsidiary, SITQ, owns Bentall Centre in downtown Vancouver. 

The Ontario Teachers Fund, through Cadillac Fairview Corp. Ltd, owns the other major shopping malls in the Metro region, Pacific Centre downtown and Richmond Centre in Richmond. 

“If the same person that owns Oakridge [Centre] owns [Metropolis at] Metrotown and the same person that owns Metrotown owns Guildford [Shopping Centre], they can decide, ‘You will not open up in any of our malls,’” said Thomas Skidmore, CEO, chairman and president of Glentel Inc. 

Skidmore’s company owns 101 WirelessWave stores and 60 stores branded either Telephone Booth or La Cabine Telephonique at malls across Canada. It also operates 63 Wireless Etc. kiosks within Costco stores. “I would love to open up 10 stores in the Greater Vancouver area, if I could get malls to allow Telephone Booth to come in and give competition to other cellular dealers,” Skidmore said.


Vancouver Sun: Landmark Victorian restored

April 19th, 2008
The Flack Block, across from Victory Park at the corner of Hastings and Cambie Streets.

The Flack Block, across from Victory Park at the corner of Hastings and Cambie Streets.

 by Michael Sasges
The Vancouver Sun, Westcoast Homes
April 19, 2008

The building is a pointer to the growth of the city in the decades after the arrival of the national railways and to the contribution of Edwardian and Victorian architects to Vancouver’s first-city status in a young British Columbia.

Slideshow: Developer Robert Fung describes some of the surprises he encountered in the Flack Block. You can watch the slideshow/interview here: Vancouver Sun: Robert Fung talks about restoring the Flack Block.

His usual work the restoration of older commercial and industrial buildings for residential re-use, developer Robert Fung has passed the last two years or so organizing the restoration of an older building for commercial reuse.

The building is the Flack Block. By next year, it will have commanded the northeast corner of Hastings and Cambie in downtown Vancouver for 110 years.

The rehabilitation work reintroduced or restored: 
1) Exterior features damaged or removed over the years, such as an archway 
2) Exterior features that have survived the decades, such as the sandstone facades and the wood-trimmed windows
3) The original lightwell 
4) The original stairwell and elevator cage

As well as adding a new top floor, the new-construction work brought a 19th-century building up to 21st-century seismic, structural and building-systems standards, and introduced a new elevator and shaft.

The building is a pointer to the growth of the city in the decades after the arrival of the national railways and to the contribution of Edwardian and Victorian architects to Vancouver’s first-city status in a young British Columbia.

‘‘The Flack Block is a significant landmark component of the early retail and commercial fabric of West Hastings when Hastings Street was one of the most prominent commercial streets in early Vancouver,” city hall staff told council. (more…)

Globe & Mail: Bowman Block: An over-the-top restoration

May 18th, 2007
The Bowman Block's new penthouses overlook Beatty Street.

The Bowman Block's new penthouses overlook Beatty Street.

Architect Gair Williamson has harmoniously blended old and new in a revitalization of Beatty Street’s Bowman Block 

Trevor Boddy
Globe & Mail Real Estate, Architecture spotlight
Friday, May 18, 2007

For the past half century at very least, Vancouver has been a cauldron of innovation for new housing ideas. In the 1960s we developed the West End’s trademark small floor plate, medium-rise apartment tower. Nudged upwards as the small floor plate high-rise condominium tower, this housing form is of increasing interest world-wide from Dubai to San Diego.

More recently, Vancouver has been developing housing hybrids – buildings that combine two quite different uses, or else two quite different physical formats of multiple homes. Divergent uses brought together by an unbeatable confluence of ultrahigh land prices and mandates from our all-powerful urban planners have prompted an unexpected laminate of functions: big box stores topped by the buttons and bows of rooftop condos. Vancouver is home to the world’s first Costco store capped by condominium towers, on Pacific Boulevard. 

Our city’s true main street, Broadway, is the location of a rising number of these large retailers sprouting layers of residences up top. First up was the SportChek store at Ontario Street and West Broadway, where several storeys of suites rise right above the roller blades and designer jogging togs. 

Condos over food stores is the new theme a couple of blocks west on Cambie, where one side of the street will soon see condos over the flagship Save-On Foods. The other side of the street will be home to condos on top of a competing grocery outlet – or American organic food giant Whole Foods. This company recently bought the Capers chain, who (at least temporarily), have a condo-topped store a few blocks up the Canada Line construction corridor. Soon we will all be calling it the “boulevard of munching dreams.”


Western Living Condo: Robert Fung – Character Builder

May 15th, 2007


Robert Fung – Character Builder
By Trevor Boddy
Spring/Summer 2007

It isn’t easy turning funky old buildings in sketchy neighbourhoods into fashionable condos. Just ask developer Robert Fung. 

Robert Fung has become Vancouver’s condo developer of the future by concentrating on the past.

As his fellow real estate tycoons paid ever-higher prices for land to build condo towers downtown and at SkyTrain hubs, Fung followed another path – riskier in someways, more rewarding in others. Confounding conventional wisdom, he purchased historic buildings all around Canada’s poorest and most drug-plagued urban neighbourhood. 

It wasn’t as if he didn’t know how to crank out high-rise condos. He had spent a decade working for other developers, mostly Concord Pacific. Vancouver’s largest developer had hired Fung straight from a B.A. in Anthropology at Western in 1990, though he admits there was a little family influence involved – father Robert Fung Sr. is a prominent Liberal and former CEO of Toronto’s Waterfront Development Corporation. Etobicoke-raised Fung learned how to put together skinny-tower-on-townhouse-base projects, get them approved at city hall, then preset those invisible, yet-to-be-constructed boxes in the air that are Vancouver’s condos-to-come. Eventually, though, this development formula became rote and the land price stakes too high for independent new players like him. 

From his perch at Concord Pacific, watching the brick warehouses of Yaletown get developed, Fung concluded that “Gastown could become what Yaletown did not want to be.” Now, walking around Vancouver’s rapidly changing Downtown Eastside, he is delighted with signs of renewal, such as Sean Heather and Scott Hawthorn’s Salt wine bar located next to a string of his properties along what used to be one of the city’s most troubled alleys. Admiring an old cornice here, sculpted window surrounds there, Fung has a story about nearly every building. He revels in the urban textures of the area. Given the success of his heritage building developments, he is obviously not alone. 

Some of Fung’s competitors grouse that he must have some pipeline to deep pockets in Toronto or Asia, but he demurs, explaining he had to sell his own house for seed capital when Salient Development started in 2000. By the start of this decade, Gastown’s harbourview cream along Water and Alexander Streets had been skimmed off by other developers, with the east-of-Main Edge project through to the Landing at Richards Street picked up by others or priced out of his reach.


Gastown’s Message to the World

June 24th, 2006
Robert Fung Gastown Message

Robert Fung, shown here in one of the lofts he recently introduced into a 100-year-old Beatty Street warehouse.

Vancouver Sun – Gastown’s message to the world
Saturday, June 24, 2006 

by Robert Fung
Special to Westcoast Homes 

Last weekend the city of Vancouver’s senior heritage planner, Gerry McGeough, and I led planners and government heritage representatives from around the world through Gastown. Our purpose was to show how government support for heritage rehabilitation and public/private cooperation has resulted in an economic-development catalyst that is transforming some of Vancouver’s infamous eyesores into a ‘‘sustainable urbanization’’ eye-opener. Two very big words, and very hot if you’re a planner or developer, sustainable urbanization has preoccupied hundreds of learned participants in the World Planner’s Congress and the World Urban Forum in Vancouver.

Of the myriad topics for debate under this banner, one small component involves the integration of our historic fabric into densification. What might this add to “sustainable urbanization” When land is at a premium, and densification is critical, why should we care to save small heritage buildings?

Further, why bother to save blocks of these derelict structures that comprise our currently most underdeveloped heritage neighbourhoods?

I believe a heritage component is fundamental to the final outcome of this torrid pace of growth and to the preservation of our sense of who we are.

Vancouver is often seen as a desirable model for urban densification, with almost 85,000 people residing in the city core.