Homeless in Vancouver: Slightly historic DTES Tweedale Block marked down to sell

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      The “Summer Hotel“, a.k.a., the “Tweedale Block”, at 341 East Hastings Street, is for sale.

      The current asking price is $3.3 million. This is down from an earlier price of $3.5 million, according to a PDF sales brochure with an internal creation date of May 2018.

      What this reduced price buys is a 109-year-old, dilapidated, brick-faced, wood-framed, four-storey, 30-room, single-room-occupancy (SRO) hotel—complete with some history, heritage value, and remarkably open-ended zoning.

      The building sits within the Downtown Eastside/Oppenheimer District (DEOD).

      Everything within the DEOD is zoned for comprehensive development, according to the City of Vancouver. This means that 341 East Hastings Street can be redeveloped for any of the following uses: residential, commercial, light industrial, park space, public usage, urban farming, and other uses that the City defines as “comparable or accessory”.

      There is nothing I can see that says the 30 units of vital, low-income housing that the Tweedale Block represents can only be redeveloped as new rental housing—low income, or otherwise.

      Back when buildings all had surnames

      Details from 341 East Hastings, showing both th “Tweedale Block” sign and the decoration under the windows, including the initials C.T.
      Xiao23, CCASA licence

      Historically speaking, the Tweedale Block has been recognized as a Canadian cultural heritage site since 1994.

      It is number 8510 in the Canadian Register of Historic Places. However, it is unclear what, if any, protection this offers the building (and its tenants) from the threat of demolition and redevelopment.

      According to the Changing Vancouver blog, the narrow (likely 7.6 m x 36.6 m), four-storey structure at 341 East Hastings Street cost all of $26,000 when it was built in 1910 for one Cyril Tweedale.

      Hence the “Tweedale Block” monicker, which is plastered in large letters on a front spandrel of the building’s top storey underneath the cornice.

      Cyril Tweedale was a British-born immigrant to Canada who became a Vancouver investment banker and realtor of some note. The WestEndVancouver blog offers an illustrated biography of this early-20th-century pillar of the community.

      The Tweedale Block was purpose-built from the start to serve as a rooming house. It operated as the Olympia Rooms (later Olympia Hotel) until 1987, when it became the Sunlight Hotel.

      The current Lee and Associates real estate listing refers to 341 East Hastings as the “Summer Hotel” but visible signage in the 2012 photo used above reads “Sun West Hotel”. Other online listings for the address use “Sunwest”.