Commercial tower planned at historic Catholic cathedral in Downtown Vancouver

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      A heritage and architectural gem in Downtown Vancouver is up for retrofits.

      Plans are being drawn to upgrade the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary to modern earthquake standards, and conserve the 119-year-old church.

      To finance the project, a new 23-storey commercial tower is proposed at a portion of the church property at the intersection of Richards and Dunsmuir streets.

      Property developer Wall Financial Corp. is named as an applicant in the project.

      The Gothic Revival-style cathedral is listed in category A of the city’s heritage register, which means that is of primary significance.     

      The renewal project for the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary is set to be presented to the Vancouver Heritage Commission on Monday (February 25).

      According to the commission’s agenda meeting, the new development is proposed at the current site of the church rectory.

      The first five floors of the commercial tower will provide 36,000 square feet of new activity space for the church.

      On top of this will be 18 floors of commercial space of about 194,000 square feet.

      “Sufficient spatial separation would be maintained between the Cathedral and the new tower,” the agenda states.

      There will be a “functional link between the Church and its new activity space in the tower”.

      “The proposed design development of the new tower creates a compatible background for the existing elaborate architecture of the Cathedral,” the agenda notes.

      The development of the commercial tower will provide the “funding necessary for the seismic upgrade and heritage conservation”, according to the commission’s agenda.

      The conservation work includes the preservation of the cathedral’s historic masonry and metalwork.

      An announcement on the Catholic cathedral parish’s website recalls that the church opened in 1900.

      According to the parish, the building has not seen any major structural work done since that time.

      “We want to build, protect and keep what has been handed to us by previous generations of Vancouver Catholics,” the parish states.

      The parish also notes online that the cathedral was designed by architects T. E. Julian and H. J. Williams in the form of a cross.

      Opened on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, 1900, the cathedral was regarded as the “finest piece of architecture west of Toronto and north of San Francisco”.