Homeless in Vancouver: Exodus from 1489 West Broadway begins as most staff move to new East Van office

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      The future of the old RBC Royal Bank building at 1489 West Broadway is in doubt.

      The only part of the 1957-vintage office building, located on the northeast corner of West Broadway and Granville Street, still occupied is the RBC bank branch on the ground floor and bank staff expect that will close in five months.

      After that, who knows? RBC’s media relations isn’t saying.

      Who will cry to see the old RBC building go?

      The big building on the right, at 2985 Virtual Way (below East Broadway), is the new home of RBC office staff from 1489 West Broadway.
      Google Earth

      As of Friday (May 10), all the staff at 1489 West Broadway who handled credit adjudication and mortgages and occupied the second, third, and fourth floors, have decamped for the new RBC Insurance offices, located about 7 kilometres east along Broadway, at 301-2985 Virtual Way, near Rupert Street.

      The move to Virtual Way was already scheduled over a year ago and was common knowledge among affected RBC staff; many of whom openly expressed the opinion that the building itself would be coming down—”for the subway”, one was heard to say in April of 2018.

      Back in 2017, Sharon Townsend—then the executive director of the South Granville Business Improvement Area—told me that there had been, as she put it, “rumblings for quite some time about RBC and it having 20-storey potential”.

      Today she reiterated her belief that the corner location of 1489 West Broadway “is the most logical location for a station” (meaning a Granville Street station for the proposed Broadway subway line, running from VCC-Clark Station to Arbutus Street) and she added—leaving no doubt about her feelings, vis-a-vis the current occupant of the address:

      “The existing building is really a hindrance to a vibrant streetscape and I would not cry one single tear to see it gone.”

      While I agree with Sharon Townsend that its corner location is ideal for a subway station and that, as is, the present RBC property does little or nothing to encourage a “vibrant streetscape”, I am not aware of many buildings along South Granville that are especially innocent of the same charge.

      Though I would not cry, I would certainly miss the office-slash-bank building.

      I consider it to be an attractive landmark, with uniquely bold lines and an honest aesthetic embodied by its use of curving glass and real stone veneer for much of its colour.

      For what it’s worth, I think 1489 West Broadway may be one of the last examples in Vancouver, along with the main Canada Post building downtown, of its kind of Canadian architecture.

      And speaking of its worth, if TransLink would like to buy the 62-year-old property to turn it into a future Granville subway station, it won’t come cheap. The combined 2019 land and assessment value is a shade under $32 million. 

      Movers loading RBC office furniture Friday evening, at 6:25 p.m.
      Stanley Q. Woodvine