Bute and West Pender Street – westwards

The building on the left, seen in this 1981 image, was called the Pender Building, and it was developed in 1947 as a six storey office building. When it was first built it was known as the Graphic Arts Building and it was designed by John Harvey. The building was also home to the printing presses of the Sun Newspaper, whose offices were on Beatty Street at the time.

It was replaced in the early 2000s with a 33 storey condo building, with a retail podium, called The Ritz. Before the Pender Building was built there were five houses here, developed in the early 1900s. By the 1940s the Pioneer Foundry was located here, before the office building was constructed.

The development of the tower shows the way Downtown was headed before the planners put the brakes on adding new residential buildings in the Central Business District. The success at getting more people living downtown led to an interest in developing residential buildings that in turn increased land values. That then made it difficult for developers of commercial property to compete for older buildings to redevelop. There was a serious possibility of running out of employment space in the longer term, as well as an added problem of new residents having unreasonable expectations of limited office development and economic activity close to their homes. As a result the planners instituted an extensive study, the Metro Core Jobs and Economy Study, which led to restrictions on future residential use in much of the CBD. Residential development continues outside the office core – the population Downtown is now greater than in the West End. Within the CBD, a recent surge in demand now has more new office space under construction than at any time in the city’s history.

On the right is the edge of the Evergreen Building, (today a Heritage ‘A’ office) designed by Arthur Erickson and completed in 1980. There’s a new small condo building being built in the space next to it, but in the 2000s there was an approved proposal to convert the office space to residential use. Fortunately a new developer was willing to step in, renovate the building (and designate it as a Heritage Building, so its status will remain as commercial) and obtain a bonus to transfer space elsewhere Downtown. In the background is ‘Qube’ – the former 1969 Westcoast Energy Building that was converted in 2006 to residential use, with a new glazed screen to match the original (but now with opening windows, as required by residential code).

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-312

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Posted August 12, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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