Yaletown From Above

Here’s another aerial image paired with a recent shot – the more recent one taken in 2018 from CTV’s helicopter. The historic Yaletown district can be seen clearly as three streets of relatively low buildings, surrounded by more recent residential towers that the real estate industry has attached the Yaletown name.

The historic area was developed in remarkably short order between 1909 and 1913. When the original building permits were issued, many of the buildings didn’t have a street address, and the legal description was ‘CPR Reserve’. The railway company released the land for new development of warehouses in 1908, when Water Street’s storage buildings were oversubscribed. Household names like Otis Elevator had buildings here, later joined by Ford and Heinz, but the majority of developers were local businesses expanding their warehouse space. Woodward’s Stores, Mainland Transfer and Empress Manufacturing all built new storage or manufacturing premises here. The name was brought from Yale, where the CPRs original maintenance facility was located, before it was moved to Vancouver. (The roundhouse, just above David Lam Park, still stands today, now repurposed as the area’s community centre).

The area remained a mixture of storage and manufacturing buildings, with high rail loading docks on the downhill side of the block, and tracks running down the street. During the 1980s and 1990s this gradually changed; a few restaurants and retail stores opened in the area, and then as industry moved away and adopted different (often container based) freight handling, the are saw hugw changes. Residential and office conversions were carried out; the rail docks became extended covered patio space for a surprising number of restaurants, and developers looked to add additional storeys as buildings were converted and upgraded. A couple of buildings were in such poor condition that only the fa├žade was retained, and one warehouse burned down and was replaced with the Opus Hotel, whose dimensions replicated the warehouse that was lost.

Our before picture dates to 2001 so there were already plenty of residential towers that had been built in the 1980s and 90s, including many built by Concord Pacific as they commenced developing the land they acquired from the Province following Expo ’86. The first towers were built on the north side of Pacific Boulevard, but in 2001 they were well on the way to complete West One, the first tower of the Beach Crescent neighbourhood (in the foreground) which even today has a couple of yet-to-be-developed non-market housing sites. The eight Concord towers in the picture developed since 2001 added over 1,100 units, and once complete the whole neighbourhood, clustered around George Wainborn Park, will have over 2,000 apartments, including non-market rental.

While much of the rest of Downtown South (to the north of the Concord lands) has been built out, one large tower is still under construction next to Emery Barnes Park, another on Smithe Street, and there are a few more infill sites left. The greatest potential change in this picture will occur when the 1948 Hudson’s Bay warehouse (today an office building on an entire city block) gets redeveloped – undoubtedly into residential towers.

0948

Posted February 17, 2020 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown, Yaletown

%d bloggers like this: