Canada Post building redevelopment in downtown Vancouver passes heritage test

The original structure and artwork will be preserved at 349 West Georgia Street

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      The Vancouver Heritage Commission has endorsed the redevelopment of the downtown site of the former central Canada Post building.

      Members of the civic advisory body voted unanimously on Monday (February 6) to support the proposal to rezone 349 West Georgia Street for residential, office, and retail uses.

      “It went very well from the heritage standpoint,” commission chair Richard Keate told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview about the project.

      The redevelopment will involve the rehabilitation of the heritage building, as well as the addition of three residential and office towers above.

      Keate recalled that commission members at the meeting kept referring to two other downtown redevelopments as good examples of heritage makeovers.

      One is the Reliance Properties building at 564 Beatty Street. The six-level brick warehouse dating back to the early 1900s was restored, with four floors of glass-and-steel office space added on top.

      The second is the redevelopment of the former 11-storey Stock Exchange Building at 475 Howe Street. Built in 1929, the neo-Gothic heritage landmark is incorporated into a new office tower with 31 floors.

      “They tie in very well with the module below, but there is a change of materials,” Keate said about the two projects. “So it’s clear what’s compatible and what is distinguishable.”

      In the case of the former Canada Post building, almost all of the structure built in 1958 will be retained, as will significant works of art.

      The artworks include two identical 5.8-metre cast-aluminum Canada coats of arms on the building’s front façade.

      Another work of art to be preserved is the 4.9-metre-tall bas-relief of a letter carrier. Carved into red granite, the sculpture is proposed to be relocated from the southwest corner of the building to another place.

      Vancouver's main post office building was completed in 1958.

      Keate related that during the meeting, members of the Vancouver Heritage Commission suggested to the project proponents that they keep the letter-carrier carving at its current spot.

      Keate said he likes the landscaping part of the plan, which will open the property—occupying an entire city block—to the public. A plaza will be created on West Georgia Street, with water features, seats, lighting, plants, and public art.

      “This is, hopefully, going to engage the street a lot more, and we were quite pleased with that,” Keate said.

      The proposed redevelopment of the former Canada Post site will add 799 new homes downtown, consisting of 427 market rentals and 372 condo units.

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