Renewal planned for Vancouver Chinatown site where Louie family business behind London Drugs began

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      In 2018, the company behind London Drugs, IGA stores, and Fresh St. Market locations announced a corporate restructuring.

      H.Y. Louie Limited formed a new subsidiary, Georgia Main Food Group, to look after its food business.

      In a media release at the time, the company explained how the Georgia Main Food Group got its name.

      It was a “nod to the company’s origins and where the Louie family businesses began – in 1903, at 255 East Georgia Street in Vancouver”.

      H.Y. Louie was Hok Yat Louie, the family patriarch who started a grocery at the Chinatown location east of Main Street.

      His son Tong Louie expanded the business. He brought in the IGA stores to B.C. during the 1950s. In 1976, Tong acquired London Drugs.

      According to the Vancouver Heritage Foundation, the location, now addressed as 252-260 Georgia Street, was added to the city’s register of heritage buildings in 1986.

      The move was in recognition of its “connection with W.H. Chow, a Chinese-Canadian Architect who was never formally recognized as an architect due to discriminatory laws at the time, but designed many buildings in Chinatown and Vancouver”.

      As well, the two-storey brick building is “significant as a direct connection and continued business legacy with H.Y. Louie Company”.

      The Vancouver Heritage Foundation recalled that the Louie family owned the building up to the 1950s.

      The City of Vancouver has received an application for a development permit to rehabilitate the heritage building.

      The matter is included in the agenda Thursday (October 8) of the Chinatown Historic Area Planning Committee.

      According to the agenda item, the proposal seeks to “rehabilitate the windows and to alter the storefront of the east bay of the building, replacing it with an overhead door similar to those found on the ground floor of the other bays of this building”.

      Raymond Cheok Pan Lam is identified as owner of the property.

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