The Gastown Historic Area Planning Committee (GHAPC) will review a new proposal to redevelop a site where two culturally significant Vancouver hotels stand.
In June 2016, the committee, which advises the City of Vancouver about the protection of heritage resources in the historic district, rejected the development proposal for 33 West Cordova Street at that time.
The GHAPC had concerns about the plan because it called for the demolition of the Stanley Hotel and the New Fountain Hotel, which are both listed in the Canadian Register of Historic Places (CRHP).
Joint developers Westbank Projects Corp. and B.C. Housing had proposed to retain the facades of the two hotels, and build an 11-storey mixed-use building with 134 market rental units and 80 social housing units.
In the revised application filed on the developers’ behalf by Henriquez Partners Architects, the height of the proposed building is one storey lower at 10 floors.
The new submission also reduced the number of market rental units to 62, and retained the same number of 80 social housing units.
The GHAPC is meeting Wednesday (November 8) to look at the revised application.
Like in the previous application, the new plan involves razing the Stanley and New Fountain hotels.
The two hotels are currently used to house people on income assistance and the homeless.
According to the design rationale submitted by Henriquez Partners Architects, the “existing building interiors are greatly deteriorated and the proposal is to retain the Stanley and New Fountain Hotel façades as a culturally significant historic resource in Gastown, while undertaking a rehabilitation of the overall site through the construction of a mid-rise tower behind the historic façade”.
“The heritage facades will undergo careful restoration and retail fronts will be reinstated along Cordova,” the document states.
The Stanley Hotel was built in 1906. The New Fountain Hotel is older, and was built in 1899.
The two buildings are among the earliest in Gastown, which the CRHP describes as the “historic core of Vancouver”.
In a previous interview, GHAPC committee member Glenda Bartosh told the Georgia Straight that the planned demolition of the two hotels and the retention of their facades for a new development is an example of “facadism”.
“It’s like a false front, which is the Disneyfication of projects,” Bartosh said last year. She also compared it to a “propped-up movie front”.
The proposed development will include a pedestrian mews or lane that will connect West Cordova Street to Blood Alley Square, which the city is planning to redesign along with the adjacent Trounce Alley.
Blood and Trounce alleys are located between Abbott and Carrall streets. Regarded as one of the original roads in Vancouver, Bloody Alley is a cobblestone laneway with historic streetlights and brick buildings.
Referring to the city’s planned redesign of Blood Alley Square, Henriquez Partners Architects note in the 33 West Cordova Street application that a “public square behind the site has the potential to serve as the heart of a revitalized Gastown”.
“The project proposes to further support this revitalization through re-establishing a wider and shorter mews connection from Cordova Street and the addition of restaurant and retail space facing the alley,” states the design rationale for the development application.
An open house will be held a day before the November 8 meeting of the Gastown historic area planning committee members.
The open house is on Tuesday (November 7), from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Woodwards Atrium (111 West Hastings Street).