West Georgia Street – 1100 block, north side (2)

This large slab office, seen here in 1981, has been recently replaced by the Trump Tower. It started life as the Shell Oil building, completed in 1957. It was built by Dominion Construction, who designed it in-house. Although there was an architect employed by the company, engineer John McLaren was credited with the design, although it should have had an accredited architect to sign off. It was initially headquarters for Shell’s Western Division. Initially established in Canada in Montreal, Shell, like other North American oil companies established a new office in Vancouver, then moved operations to Alberta some years later as oil exploration and exploitation shifted the centre of Canadian activity. (The company headquarters moved there from Toronto in 1984). The office uses continued, with the building apparently renamed as the Weststar Building, (although that could be an error, as the Westar Building was next door).

Plans were approved to reuse the abandoned building. In 1994 it was proposed for reuse as the Newport City Club – but that project failed part way through redevelopment. The Vancouver Sun reported the project: “Six floors of the Weststar Building on 1188 West Georgia are being converted into the Newport City Club that will house three restaurants, a health club, meeting and reading rooms. Final approvals have been received for construction in north Squamish of the companion Newport Ridge Golf and Country Club, a 5,800-yard executive-type course, 900 residences (single units and townhouses) and a 100,000 square foot clubhouse. “Due to geographic limitations there’s only 90 acres for golf we’re developing a course with 7 par-threes and 11 par-fours,” says Newport vice-president Peter Heenan, a Vancouver businessman.” The project was developed by Andrew Leung, who had previously developed resorts and golf courses in the Dominican Republic, and the financial backing was supposedly coming from three Hong Kong businesspeople.

By 1996, the 1957 structure had been stripped of its exterior walls and interior finishes, but within a year the project was in financial trouble, and soon in receivership with a number of court actions and builders liens.  A new proposal was submitted to replace it with a 27 storey office tower to be called Golden Ocean Plaza, but the project never proceeded. The site would sit as a vacant and derelict frame for many years. It was later owned by Cadillac Fairview, and in 2003 they sold it to the Holborn Group, who had already acquired the adjacent Terasen Building. The Trump Tower (with no financial involvement by the Trump organization; just a management and branding role), took several years to develop. Initial designs were rejected, until the Arthur Erickson inspired ‘twisting’ tower was approved, with an initial sales launch as the Residences at Ritz-Carlton, but the market for luxury residential towers in 2008 was depressed, and the deal fell through, to be relaunched four years later under the Trump brand, finally opening in 2016.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W14.13.

0905

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Posted September 19, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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