Social housing to replace historic Japantown building in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

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      One of the oldest buildings in Vancouver may soon be torn down.

      The 127-year-old Ming Sun building in the old Japantown is planned to be replaced with a new six-storey structure with social housing on the upper floors.

      The proposal for the site at 439 Powell Street is in the agenda Monday (November 26) of the development permit board.

      The current two-storey building has been empty for a number of years.

      A previous online petition to save the building recalled that the structure was constructed in 1891.

      “The building is one of the earliest and one of the last ‘Boomtown’ working class buildings in the Powell Street area and was home to the Uchida family whose daughter, Chitose was the first Japanese Canadian woman to attend UBC,” according to the petition.

      The existing building used to house low-income seniors and an arts space.

      It was declared unsafe by city officials in 2013 after a wall from an adjacent building at 451 Powell Street partially collapsed on it.

      Boni-Maddison Architects filed the development application on behalf of the Ming Sun Benevolent Society.

      Located across Oppenheimer Park, the Downtown Eastside development will have ground-level retail, and 55 social housing units above.

      “We have secured preliminary approval   from BC Housing for both financing and   funding,” according to the proposal’s design rationale. “The goal is to maximize the number of units to meet the needs of the community in an efficient and cost-effective manner.”

      A Boni-Maddison Architects rendering of the proposed six-storey building.