Richards Street – 600 block, west side (1)

600 Richards west 1

Our tag of ‘still standing’ doesn’t really apply here – (although in the case of Dunsmuir House, off to the side,  it’s something of a miracle that it is still standing). There’s really very little change, despite the passage of over 40 years. This 1974 image shows the wall of the Bay parkade on the left, and to the north the lightwell of Dunsmuir House – once the Dunsmuir Hotel. The building has seen better days: it was past its prime in the 1974 image: now it’s boarded up, apparently considered too dangerous to even house the homeless on a temporary basis.

In the background The Hudson has been built: a huge condo that was permitted in the Central Business District to pay for expensive retro-fitting of the Granville SkyTrain station with a new disabled access. (Blair Smith reminds us that it’s a ‘live-work’ building, so not specifically residential only; some owners run their business from their suite). Otherwise the surface parking of the almost total city block owned these days by the Holborn Group sits, and waits for a development proposal. Over ten years ago the developer bought the site, and a 2006 memorandum was endorsed by the City Council that established a requirement for “a minimum FSR 5.0 commercial floor space, including at least one major office tower; retention and renovation of Dunsmuir House as Single Room Accommodation, affordable to low-income singles, with the possible transfer of the site to City ownership; market residential space as a bonus to cover the cost associated with retaining and up-grading Dunsmuir House; additional market residential space, as may fit into an appropriate form of development, which may or may not be density transferred from other heritage sites; and provision of other appropriate public benefits, subject to project viability.” Ten years later, there’s no sign of a project, although the base zoning of the site has been increased by the Metro Core Study, so now they might have to provide 7.0 FSR of commercial (which would be floorspace equivalent to seven times the site area).

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 778-385

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Posted January 25, 2016 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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