Developer James Evans advocates heritage retention

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      Vancouver developer James Evans lives in the Grandview-Woodland neighbourhood, where he walks around a fair bit.

      The neighbourhood has a number of historic mansions, like the one at 1240 Salsbury Drive. It was built in 1907 and 1908 by Thomas William Jeffs, a physician, coroner, city councillor, and police commissioner in his time.

      A few years ago, the Jeffs Residence (its new name) was considered for demolition. During some of his walks, Evans thought about saving the place. He ended up buying it, and the result was a restored estate home with seven inside apartments and 13 new townhouses on other parts of the property. Completed and fully sold in 2013, it was his first heritage project.

      He’s now doing a second one in his neighbourhood, the Brookhouse Residence, at 1872 Parker Street. Now in poor shape, the four-storey home was built in 1908 and acquired by businessman Albert Arthur Brookhouse in 1921. It had been vacant for a couple of years when Evans bought it recently.

      Last December, a rezoning application was filed with the City of Vancouver on behalf of the company set up by Evans to convert the Brookhouse Residence into a six-unit strata home and construct a separate three-storey building with four townhouses.

      It’s the same concept as the Jeffs Residence project. Although it would be easier to tear down the old Brookhouse place and build two duplexes, Evans explained why he’s doing it the hard way.

      “Firstly, I’m a big believer and advocate of heritage retention, because we’re losing them all over the place in the city,” Evans told the Straight in a phone interview. “So anytime you got an opportunity to save these things and restore them so that they become a legacy for the next generation, I think that’s an important thing to do.”

      There’s another reason, one that’s related to affordability.

      “The other thing, too, is in projects like these, you can create a whole variety of…unit types, like one-bedrooms that will appeal to a certain segment of the marketplace to three-bedroom homes that will be valued by families,” the developer said. “You don’t really have many opportunities to do that in Vancouver, where you can actually create little communities.”

      The Cultch (1895 Venables Street) will host a community open house for the project on Tuesday (January 12) from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.