Posts Tagged ‘Paris Block’

Calgary Herald: ‘Field of Dreams’ grows within gritty Gastown

October 25th, 2008

Paris Annex in Vancouver – ‘Field of Dreams’ grows within gritty Gastown 

Barb Livingstone
Calgary Herald
Oct 25, 2008 

CAPTION: Robert Fung of Salient Group in Vancouver. 

CAPTION: Courtesy, Salient Group: An artist’s rendering of the proposed Paris Annex project on Hastings Street.

PROJECT: Paris Annex, which is offering 16 suites in the all-new minimalist concrete/glass building that will be attached to the adjacent historic Paris Block – a building that is being refurbished to its 1907 elegance. The Annex units have clean, compact lines and range rom 645 to 10400 square feet. The suites have floor-to-ceiling windows in an open-space loft design with 10 to14 feet ceilings, polished concrete floors, private outdoor balconies and elegant, integrated kitchens. The residents will share a common area roof top deck. 
DEVELOPER: The Salient Group 
LOCATION: Hastings Street in the Gastown area. 
PRICES: Prices start in the high $300,000s and rise to the mid $400,000s. 


Robert Fung does not pretend to be building and selling condos in a “white picket fence” neighbourhood. 

But the young developer’s rehabilitation efforts of many heritage buildings in the evolving, but still gritty, Gastown area of Vancouver, are seen as the tide that may turn that part of downtown into a healthier postal code.

“While others might try to mask the neighbourhood, we sell the neighbourhood and its depth and diversity,” says Fung, who has been crowned everything from King of Gastown to one of Vancouver’s bright lights by various magazines and newspapers. 

“We take the Field of Dreams approach – if you build it, they will come,” says Fung. “Our buyers come with their eyes wide open and are helping to create balance.” 

Indeed, the buyers are coming. All the projects that 42-year-old Fung and his eight year-old company, Salient Group, are building, have sold out – some in less than a day. 

His latest project, the Paris Annex on Hastings Street, was released this month. 

It has only 16 suites available in the all-new minimalist concrete/glass building and will be attached to the adjacent historic Paris Block, which is being refurbished to its 1907 elegance. 

“Some buyers want the heritage and some want only modern, but all like the mixture,” says Fung from his office in Gaolers Mews on Water Street in the midst of his Gastown construction zone. 

Originally, The Annex was te be another refurbishment project, but the building had suffered too much neglect from past owners. 

Instead, the 16 condos will have floor-to-ceiling windows in an open-space loft design with 10 to 14 foot ceilings, polished concrete floors, private outdoor balconies and elegant, integrated kitchens. 

The residents will share a common area rooftop deck. 

Like Salient’s other condo projects, The Annex units have clean, compact lines and range from 645 to 1,400 square feet. 

Prices start in the high $300,000s and rise to the mid $400,000s. 

The interior design is by Evoke International Design, recent winners of a 2008 designer of the year award from Western Living magazine. 

The Annex will share a corridor, stairs and elevator with the Paris Block. 

Most of Salient’s projects combine the beautiful brick/sandstone of the historic buildings with the modern elements of sleek, top of the line kitchens and bathrooms that ensure every space has multiple uses. 

But it is the history of Gastown, Vancouver’s original neighbourhood, that is reflected in almost every building Fung has touched. 

It makes sense that a developer who has a vision of how an area can become a stronger community through residential mix, should have studied anthropology in university. 


After I graduated, I travelled for a year, looking at the ways people live and interpret space,” says Fung. “We need to retain some of our built heritage because if we lose elements of it, we lose elements of ourselves.” 


The Salient projects include: 

• Taylor Building: Salient’s first project in Gastown, the condo building has original 1911 architecture and the company sold 22 units in the fall of 2003. 

The condos have refinished original wood floors, large opening heritage windows, 10- to 14-foot ceilings and a common rooftop deck. 

• Terminus: One of the 10 most endangered buildings in Vancouver, it used to be the Grand Hotel, but it had deteriorated into a rooming house. 

“It was in abysmal shape,” says Fung. “We dismantled it, retained the facade and put in geothermal heating.” 

The 46 condos, all of which are two-storey suites and of which there are no two alike, will be completed by November. 

• Garage: Thirty-four live/work residences are to be built around the Gaoler’s Mews courtyard in Gastown. 

There are architectural elements from five different years (1889, 1930, 1970 and 2007) in a modern/heritage mix of what Salient describes as “killer design that raises the bar for urban habitat.” 

It includes 10,000 square feet of office space and a similar amount of retail. The project sold out in an hour and a half. 

• Bowman Block: Winner of a Urban Development Institute award of excellence, the original building was the first brick one on Beatty Street, which straddles Gastown, Chinatown, Victory Square and Vancouver’s entertainment district. 

It was first built in 1906 and added to in 1914. It has 38 suites, some of them two-storey lofts, in a nine-storey building. There is a common rooftop deck. 

• Paris Block: The most recent of Salient’s projects, the Paris Block was, for 60 years, home to Pierre Paris and Sons, a logging boot manufacturer and retailer. 

The 100-year-old, five-storey building will now be home to 29 condos located just down the block from the Woodward’s building redevelopment. 

The project sold out in two hours and 45 minutes. 

In addition to the Paris Annex, Salient is also working on a heritage refurbishment of the Trapp Block on the main street of New Westminster. 

Originally owned by the Trapp family and formerly housing an Army and Navy store, the Trapp project will be Salient’s biggest to date. It will offer 190 suites in a mixture of heritage and modern residences, and 12,000 square feet of retail space. 

Units are expected to be released to the public in spring 2009.

Prices are not set, but Fung says they should start in the low $200,000s. 

For more information, visit Paris Annex: C’est bonne

October 11th, 2008

Paris Annex - C'est bonne

Paris Annex: C’est bonne
New building and 1907 Paris Block next door are ‘fraternal twins’

Barbara Gunn, Westcoast Homes
Published: Saturday, October 11, 2008

The affable Robert Fung, founder of a development company that has been largely focused on restoring Vancouver’s historic downtown district, can think of three reasons that drive his passion for social sustainability.

They are six, five and three years old — and they are his daughters.

“I love this city and I’d like them to grow up here,” says the 42-year-old president of the Salient Group, sipping an Americano in one of his favourite Gastown eateries.

“I’d like it to be a city that they want to live in, where they can make a living, where they can accommodate the cost of housing, a city that’s diverse and where there’s a great deal of understanding, where there are options in places to live, and where, environmentally, there’s an understanding of the impact of the things we do on the bigger picture of the world.”

Fung, an Ontario native who developed a fondness for Vancouver soon after he moved here 20 years ago — “It gets in your blood pretty quickly,” he says — is doing his best, a project at a time, to shape parts of the city he envisions for his little girls.

His company currently has some 100,000 square feet of heritage office space complete, or nearing completion, in some of Vancouver’s most historic neighbourhoods, and a project list that includes Gastown’s Alhambra, Garage and Terminus buildings, the Flack Block on Hastings, the Bowman Block on Beatty and the Taylor Building on Water Street — the latter two winners of Urban Development Institute’s excellence awards.


David Nicolay named Western Living Magazine’s Interior Designer of the Year

October 3rd, 2008

Evoke is Robert Edmonds, graphic artist (on left) and architect David Nicolay (right).

We’d like to express our congratulations to David Nicolay of Evoke International Design for being named Western Living Magazine’s Interior Designer of the year.

Evoke has worked on several of our latest projects including terminus, Garage on Water Street and The Paris Block and Paris Annex buildings on West Hastings Street.


David Nicolay talks about the terminus project from The Salient Group on Vimeo.


See the story below:

From award-winning homes to neighbourhood watering holes and hip T-shirts, this design firm redefines casual modern living.

By Jim Sutherland

Some interior design partnerships are headed by highly focused individuals possessing intimidating training and credentials along with a laser-like sense of purpose. Other partnerships consist of, well, an architect and a graphic artist who branched into interiors primarily to outfit the bars and restaurants they wanted to hang out in.

The latter partnership describes Vancouver’s Evoke International Design, headed by David Nicolay, the architect, and Robert Edmonds, the graphic artist. And while the duo’s route to running a seven-person interior design practice may have been circuitous, that doesn’t take anything away from their work, lauded by judge Kelly Deck for its “authentic flair” and “attention to materials and atmosphere.”


terminus kitchen

terminus kitchen


Today, residential work takes up a large chunk of Evoke’s design energy. As a double-threat architect and interior designer, Nicolay was responsible for a Vancouver home (seen here) that in 2006 was named a North American Home of the Year by Metropolitan Home magazine. Other residences are at various stages of design—in some cases, Nicolay notes, their progress hampered by local zoning regulations that penalize contemporary design Much of Evoke’s recent work has been on condominiums, particularly collaborations with Acton-Ostry Architects for Vancouver developers Townline and also the Salient Group, which specializes in converting warehouses and other heritage buildings. Judge Raymond Girard lauds what he calls “real” (as opposed to “soft”) lofts. “How clever to turn utilitarian spaces like kitchens and bathrooms into sculptural elements, spicing up smaller loft spaces without cramming them full of stuff, materials and textures.”

The seed of the Nicolay and Edmonds collaboration dates to the mid-1990s and a memorable Vancouver restaurant in the Kitsilano neighbourhood called Tangerine, which Nicolay and family members launched to fill what he describes as “a keenly felt void of cozy, stylish places to eat and drink.” That soon led to other restaurant work, both as designers and proprietors. Vancouver’s Figmint and Metro restaurants are recent projects, each displaying sophisticated takes on neo-modernism. Evoke and partners also designed Main Street haunts Habit and the Cascade Room, the latter a slightly off-key riff on post-war England. Both continue a tradition of rooms that, true to the company name, suggest rather than accurately describe a style or period. Paul Lavoie describes them as “fresh spaces with thoughtfulness for heritage and reality.”

The firm was recently hired for a condominium development in Victoria. A line of T-shirts featuring vivid graphic treatments by Edmonds is also ready to go. Not everyone can live in an Evoke product but at least we can all wear one.


See the original story here, and an article the Globe & Mail posted here.

Westcoast homes: Paris Block ‘Annex’ Homes Soon For Sale

June 14th, 2008
Rendering of Paris Annex, and Paris Block on the left.

Rendering of Paris Annex, and Paris Block on the left.

Westcoast homes – Paris Block ‘Annex’ Homes Soon For Sale

Saturday, June 14, 2008
Vancouver Sun 

More than a century may separate the Salient Group’s new Paris Annex from the 29-residence restored Paris Block (right) at Hastings and Abbott In the Downtown Eastside, but they still have plenty in common. ‘The Annex will complement its neighbour in design and purpose,’ a Salient news release says, ‘These two buildings will share corridors, stairs and an elevator, and the juxtaposition of old and new speaks for The Salient Group’s commitment to sensitive development in Vancouver’s original neighbourhood.’ The Paris Block, built in 1907, sold out last summer. 

The six-storey building kept its painted brick façade, its turn-of-the-century cornices, sills and centre-pivoting windows. The homes in the new Paris Annex, with its minimal concrete frame and glass and aluminum façade, will range in size from 689 square feet to 1.415 square feet with prices starting at under $400,000. Salient expects to begin selling later this month.

Globe & Mail: Burnishing a Dusty Gem

October 5th, 2007
Robert Fung at one of his projects, the Paris Block on Hastings Street.

Robert Fung at one of his projects, the Paris Block on Hastings Street.

The Globe and Mail
Friday, Oct. 5, 2007
By Kerry Gold

Burnishing a Dusty Gem
The developer pioneers are moving into Gastown and the downtown east side: “Nobody kids themselves they’re moving into Disneyland,” says the leader of the pack, Robert Fung.

For as long as most Vancouverites can remember, the heritage district of Gastown has been a draw for tourists, night clubbers and vagrants. 

Architects, designers and entertainment types who opted for character buildings over sterile office towers quietly set up business there. A few condos went up over the years, inhabited mostly by singletons who’d get married and move on. 

And although it contains some of the city’s most historically important and beautiful buildings, it’s hardly been a place to set down roots. 

Surrounded by soup kitchens and social services outposts, the potentially pretty neighbourhood with cobblestone streets also butts up against the drug-addled war zone that is the infamous downtown eastside. 

Restaurateur Sean Heather opened the successful Irish Heather restaurant-pub 11 years ago, right by the Gassy Jack statue, because rent was cheap. As one of the first businessmen to commit to investIng there in the long-term, he is considered a pioneer, one of the few brave hearts who dared take on the troubled area. 

“We’ve certainly always been there for Gastown, always pushed it whenever we could,” Mr. Heather says. “The Heather was opened on a shoestring, and probably by year two was good. We’ve been making a decent living out of it ever since. But you have to have the right product, the right temperament, all these things.” 

After years of mere talk about revitalization of the area, Mr. Heather began to notice a palpable, exciting change In the last couple of years. It’s a change brought about by intense market demand for more housing in urban areas, and a city tax incentive program that made it worthwhile for developers to convert heritage buildings to condos. 

“We noticed that the buildings got sold and were bought up by people who then got hanging around and were going to change things,” he says. “We started to see customers coming in that were developers. People were talking about Woodward’s, and it looked like it was going to happen. And when things suddenly look like they’re going to happen, that’s the big change.” 


London Drugs to build two-storey outlet in Woodwards Development

September 10th, 2007

London Drugs at Woodwards Announcement


London Drugs is the first retail outlet to commit publicly to the redevelopment at the old downtown Vancouver Woodward’s site. The B.C. based Western Canadian chain will open a 33,878-square-foot, two-level store at the site in the fall of 2009. Both the main floor and second floor sections will contain approximately 17,000 square feet.

In size, it will be on a par with some of the newer outlets in the 66-store chain.

Construction will begin this fall.

Home Makeover: Lofts To Love

July 25th, 2007
The 1911 Paris Block building on Hastings Street: next up for conversion.

The 1911 Paris Block building on Hastings Street: next up for conversion.

Lofts to Love
Salvaging the last of Vancouver’s heritage structures

By Peter Mitham
July/August 2007

PULL QUOTE: “Our whole goal is always to touch these spaces pretty lightly” Interior designer David Nicoloy of Evoke lnternotionol Designs Inc.

Turning derelict old Vancouver offices and warehouses into loft condominiums entails some of the challenges that face a homeowner renovating an older house: hidden surprises, higher-than-anticipated costs and a steep learning curve. 

This spring, the Salient Group brought one of the latest projects to market, the Paris building at 51 West Hastings. Completed in 1911, the five-storey former shoe factory is typical of the conversions taking place elsewhere in Vancouver’s historic core. When renovations are completed late next year, the building will feature 29 homes of approximately 750 square feet catering to buyers with a zest for urban living. Currently, Salient has started work on the Garage, which will combine an 1899 rope factory and a 1930-era auto centre into live/work spaces. 

But the demands in crafting trendy homes from old commercial space are daunting. 

“These small, infill sites really have to be in the right location,” explained Rick Ilich, president of the Townline Group of Richmond, which moved into the urban core in 2005 with an ambitious plan for six properties with a total of 197 homes in the Crosstown and Yaletown areas. 

“Construction’s slower, the trades aren’t necessarily making the margins they would on a simple, 30-storey building where they can just fl y, so you’ve got to make sure you’re in the location that can get the numbers that you need to make it worthwhile,” he said.

Two of Townline’s conversion projects – 1180 Homer, which completed this year, and 540 Beatty, set for to open next year – have had to balance economic demands as well as neighbours’ tolerance for the demanding work the projects require. A new, interior shell was built at 540 Beatty, for example, as part of seismic upgrading.