Vancouver heritage building going back to old roots as neighbourhood grocery in Hastings-Sunrise

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      The heritage property at 2598 Eton Street went by a few names in the past.

      It was known as the Woodside Apartments after its original owner.

      That was Frank Woodside, a Vancouver alderman from 1911 to 1928.

      According to the Vancouver Heritage Foundation (VHF), Woodside led residents of the then Hastings Townsite in a vote to join the City of Vancouver.

      Built in 1911, the property contained the offices of Woodside.

      The apartments were above a corner store called Beacon Hill Grocery.

      The VHF noted on its website that the building represented the “beginning of a development boom in the local area”.

      The development, according to the foundation, was “brought upon by the completion of the streetcar line along McGill Street out to Renfrew Street that coincided with the opening of the Vancouver Exhibition and the horse race track at Hastings Park”.

      “The building's early name, Beacon Hill Grocery, is important for marking the promotion of the local area as it opened up to development, referencing its siting overlooking Vancouver's harbour and alluding to desirable neighbourhoods of the same name in other cities such as Boston and Victoria,” the VHF stated.

      It later became Park Grocery.

      According to the VHF, the name was given to the store in 1939 by its owners at the time, Bunzo and Misu Watanabe, who were Japanese-Canadians.

      The Watanabes were going to lose it as a consequence of the Second World War.

      “As Japanese-Canadians, a corner store was one of the few business opportunities available in the face of limitations to work in other businesses or professions,” the VHF recalled. “Their property was confiscated three years later when Japanese-Canadians were interned.”

      After more than a century, 2598 Eton Street is going back to its old roots.

      The City of Vancouver has received a development application to create a “family-run, locally sourced neighbourhood grocery” at the Hastings-Sunrise property.

      In addition to a grocery, a café is also proposed.

      According to a letter to the city from Mat & Nat Holdings Ltd., the grocery and café will “act as a social and respectful gathering space to serve the community”.

      The letter noted that “residents within walking distance would the main patrons”.

      The new grocery and café will take up an existing 116-square-metre space that is currently classified for restaurant use.

      “This cafe is the only one of its kind within the immediate neighbourhood,” according to the letter to the city. 

      The city is receiving until Wednesday (July 10) comments from the public about the development application.

      The 2598 Eton Street property as shown on Google.