October 4th, 2007
Robert Fung should have H as a middle initial. It would stand for “heritage,” because that has characterized the Salient development firm’s president since he left Concord Pacific to found it in 2001.
His first acquisition was the now-121-year-old Alhambra on Gastown’s Maple Tree Square where Salient has its offices. When city workers resume their duties, Fung should be able to start renovating the 26,000-square-foot structure into “what will still be one of the city’s oldest but also most modern buildings.”
Ditto the nearby 50,000-square-foot Flack Block, where $15 million, including hard costs of $12 million, will add a fifth floor and totally renovate a “substantially vacant” building that housed “a pawnshop, booze cans and grow-ops” when Fung paid $2.5 million for it in 2005.
“It was technically an office block, but the city had a broad definition,” Fung said, smiling.
He was standing across Richards Street from the Lumbermen’s Building, which he bought vacant for $4 million in 2005. Closer to the Central Business District and in better physical condition than most of Salient’s Gastown centred projects, the building still broadly fits Fung’s aim of “breathing new life into vacant, desolate buildings, and bringing in a new population that appreciates them.”
He means folk who’ll occupy 29 live-work condos in the 1907 Paris Block at Hastings-off-Carrall Street. Demolition began this week for an 18-unit annex where similar units will fetch $600 per square foot. Sensitive to gentrification charges from Downtown Eastside residents, he said Salient projects will “round out the community… [and] the street feels more comfortable.”