What will happen to Buy-Low — our little slice of ungentrified Vancouver — if the Kingsgate Mall gets redeveloped?
Q. What happens to my beloved Buy-Low if/when Beedie Developments goes ahead with their plan to redevelop Kingsgate Mall, per the recent article in the G&M
A. Well, Chris (I know it’s you because you are the first person to have signed your name to a City Plumber question in almost a year now. The rest of you — I do not know who you are. There is nothing magic that tells me. What is with that?) Where was I now? Oh, right, Chris. And Buy-Low.
Yes, we love Buy-Low here at City Plumber. When we first moved into the neighbourhood, we were snobs about Buy-Low. We felt that going there reminded us of the couple of years that we got welfare money to help with childcare, in our early days when journalism pay was below the poverty line, and we had to think carefully about whether we could afford a $3 bottle of bubble bath. But now, we love Buy-Low. They have improved their product offerings, so that one can get an organic chicken every so often, along with the 20-pound pack of hamburger meat. Young hipster couples shop there and they are so beautiful, those young people. And paying $100 for a small bag of groceries at Whole Foods makes Buy-Low look even more alluring.
Plus, all of Kingsgate Mall calls to me in a peculiar way. As Vancouver gets more and more shiny towers, I long for the old, dumpy Vancouver. Bring back the bedraggled CBC building that used to exist in some kind of sagging yellow building on Georgia somewhere around Bute. Bring back the Normandie on Granville and Bert’s on Main. Bring back the one-storey bungalows that are being torn down to make way for another hideous mauve cake-palace.Bring back the Chinese restaurants where the waitresses could hardly bring themselves to take your wretched order. Bring back the round-cornered yellow buses. The yellow buses with their orderly seats facing forward. Hardly any room to stand up. Sniffle.
So I have come to appreciate the homey feel of all of the Kingsgate mall, where you can still buy a pair of glitter-covered platform shoes with six-inch heels. And plastic flowers. And terrible, awful, hideous Canadian-made furniture. And a real bad-for-you hot dog, filled with nitrates, not one of those German things handcrafted by some retired investment banker. And the guys drinking outside on the sidewalk, out of paper bags (how delightfully quaint). As a friend of mine who moved into the neighbourhood once said, “It’s like a little piece of Trail right in the heart of Vancouver.”
All of that has almost made me come to terms with the fact that, to bring the Kingsgate mall into existence, the always far-seeing and aesthetically sensitive Vancouver School Board ripped down the city’s first public school, Mount Pleasant, on the 100th anniversary of its construction in 1872, in order to build the architectural magnificence we now know as Kingsgate Mall, along with a replacement school nearby built out of the same cinder blocks used for minimum-security prisons. Thank you, thank you, thank you, VSB. I keep a picture of the old Mount Pleasant by my computer, so I can be grateful on a regular basis for having removed this lovely piece of history from the map.
But, rest assured Chris (and if you haven’t guessed by now that I am drinking beer, I am, Coal Harbour Brewing Company, a freebie I got at a party the other night and it’s also almost midnight), Buy-Low will be with us for a few more years.
I understand that the VSB hasn’t even had a call yet from Ryan Beedie (who holds the 99-year lease on the property, due to expire in about another 60 years). I understand Mr. Beedie currently has many other fish on the barbecue, development-wise. I understand that he got asked about this topic during an interview — a natural, since everyone is wondering what is going to happen with that corner, given that the Rize tower is going to be built across the street — and so he answered, but that doesn’t really mean anything. I understand no one in the city’s development department or other developers working nearby have heard boo about any plans.
You are safe for several years to come. You heard it from me. It must be true.