Vancouver heritage: $50,000 grant proposed for façade restoration of building near old Interurban station

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      One of the oldest mixed-use buildings in Vancouver is about to be restored to its old glory.

      City council has received a recommendation to assist the owner in rehabilitating the façade of the heritage building known as the Broadhurst and Whitaker Block.

      If approved, this will take the form of a $50,000 grant for the historic structure located at 3495-3505 Commercial Street (not the same as Commercial Drive).

      The Broadhurst and Whitaker Block was part of a once thriving neighbourhood near the Cedar Cottage station of the Interuban Line, a commuter rail system.

      A statement of significance recalls the history of the area that used to be part of the old municipality of South Vancouver.

      “Built in 1910, the Broadhurst and Whitaker Block is one of the oldest mixed-commercial and residential buildings in the surrounding area, representing the small, self-sufficient village that grew up around the interurban tram stop at 18th Avenue and Commercial Street,” according to the document.

      The document also recalls that the “Cedar Cottage neighbourhood began to flourish following the 1891 establishment of the interurban tram system, which travelled along the Vanness Avenue corridor and provided reliable access to points between downtown Vancouver and the Fraser Valley”.

      “The booming economy of the early twentieth century prompted real estate agents Charles Frederick Broadhurst and Frederick A. Whitaker to commission the construction of the Broadhurst and Whitaker Block,” according to the statement of significance.

      The Broadhurst and Whitaker Block is “significant for its Edwardian-era vernacular design elements, such as its raised parapet, plate glass storefront transoms, and bay windows on the second storey”.

      “The symmetrical building features strong horizontal massing, as well as wooden materials reflective of its construction date,” according to the document.

      On February 25, 2020, council voted to designate 3495-3505 Commercial Street as a protected heritage property.

      The heritage designation was sought by owner Hudsonmorris (3495 Commercial) Holdings Corp. as part of its plan to redevelop the site.

      The redevelopment includes the restoration of the second floor of the current two-storey building to accommodate four new condo units.

      A third floor will be added to the building for rental units.

      A new multi-family residential building is to be added at the back of the property.

      There will be 18 strata and rental homes in the entire development, plus commercial units on the ground floor.

      The city has approved the development application.

      The $50,000 grant for the building’s façade restoration is contained in a report to council by Jason Olinek, who is the city’s assistant director of planning.

      “The proposed heritage façade rehabilitation will improve the overall condition of the Building, preserve its character-defining elements, and contribute to the economic revitalization and the community sense-of-place,” Olinek wrote in his report.

      According to Olinek, the rehabilitation plan involves the “restoration of the storefront including large display windows and recessed entries to four commercial units”.

      The bay windows and wood trim on the upper floor will also be restored.

      “The applicant has submitted three competitive cost estimates for the eligible façade rehabilitation work clearly identifying costs that apply to the principal facade, ranging from $383,000 to $453,000,” Olinek wrote.

      Olinek’s report is part of council’s agenda Tuesday (July 7).