The area of the Downtown Peninsula officially known in the Downtown Plan as ‘Downtown South’, (and sometimes called ‘New Yaletown’) has seen some of the greatest change in the city in the relatively recent past. We saw the block to the north of here in a recent post. That looked at a 1981 view of the street; here’s another from the same year. The area in 1981 had mostly single storey commercial buildings, most dating from the 1940s to the 1970s. While there were a few old houses in parts of the area, mostly dating back to the early 1900s, in this part of Seymour Street it was all business property. As with our previous post, the Archives have this image wrongly attributed – this time to Richards Street, and the 1100 block.
On the corner is a 1976 structure that recently was home to a vintage clothing store, but in 1981 was ‘Rattan Rarities’. Next door were a series of auto-related businesses; J & M Fiberglass Enterprises, who are still in business in an industrial area of the city, an auto body shop. (The original owner, Jerry Olsen, an expert on Chevrolet Corvette bodywork retired in 2005). The next building was occupied by Cylinder Grinders (who we assume ground cylinders). Surprisingly, (and we suspect for only a short time), the first two commercial buildings are still standing. The former car body repairer became a Japanese auto repairer, but the most recent use for the building was as a sales centre for a condo project on Hornby Street.
Perhaps the most obvious difference in spring and summer is the tree canopy – in 1981 there were no street trees. No doubt with the redevelopment of the corner lots there will be even more in future.
We’re now mid-block, also in 1981. We don’t know for certain when the garage-like structure in the centre of the picture was built. Until the mid 1920s these seem to be residential addresses, and there were some houses built here according to the insurance maps. Campbell & Grill were running a sheet metal works which the numbering suggests might have been next door to the north. By 1934 The Piston Shop was here, so it would seem likely that this was an early 1930s building. It also looks as if there was some continuity of use here as the 1981 occupants of the building were Cylinder Grinders, who had been located on the block since before 1950. The other company here, White Mine Development were a mining operation. They carried out a number of prospecting drilling operations using diamond drilling during the mid to late 1970s.
In 1996 a double-height loft tower was built here. ‘Space’ was designed by Kasian Kennedy for Pacific City Land Corp, with 211 condos in 20 floors. The lower floors have the overheight lofts while the remainder of the tower has standard apartments. Over the years there have been a series of minor development permits to add space to the building to legalize the upper floor platforms that have been installed in many of the double-height spaces. Although in theory the zoning permits the possibility of two towers on this block, this is very unlikely to happen. The location of this tower is right in the centre of the block face with non-market housing to the south and a site to the north limited in height due to potential shadowing of the park across the street.