Carl Rooms, 575 East Hastings Street

Unusually, this 1909 rooming house has retained its name over an entire century. Today it’s the Carl Hotel, and in 1911 it was The Carl Apartments. It got its name from sitting on the corner of Carl Avenue – renamed to Princess decades ago. It was developed by J McTaggart, and designed by Parr and Fee costing $28,150 to build in 1909.

The building was possibly an investment by a hardware merchant whose earlier investment we looked at in an earlier post. Hardware merchants in Vancouver obviously fared well; we have come across many of them running a development business as well as their retail or wholesale activities, and John McTaggart was no exception. He came from Ontario, married a younger American, and started a family as well as adding politics and real estate into his life. In 1909, the year this building was developed John was 46 and ran (unsuccessfully) as an independent candidate for Alderman.

It’s just possible he wasn’t the developer; there was also Joseph McTaggart, a grocer, also from Ontario, who would have been 61 when this building was constructed. He lived in the West End with has wife, Minerva, two adult children, (one a lawyer), and a niece, and owned a grocery store on Granville Street.

The area became poorer over the years, and the residents of these types of former hotel, with shared bathrooms and small rooms, were increasingly likely to be reliant on welfare payments, and were often drug dependent. The property sold for $1.4m in 2006, and the new owner claimed to be losing $3,000 a month as welfare rents failed to cover his costs. He sold it on for $2.05 million in March 2007, to a numbered company who promised that existing tenants would not be displaced. The company turned out to be owned by the BC Government, who acquired over 20 SRO hotels over a number of years, often using last-minute unspent housing funds available at the end of the financial year. The numbered company was intended to stop prices being bid up, as developers were starting to acquire SROs with a view to increase rents that welfare recipients could never afford, or to redevelop them. Today the Portland Hotel Society and Atira manage the rooms.



Posted 20 July 2020 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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