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How much development in past — and future — for Chinatown

May 24th, 2017 · 4 Comments

A knowledgeable person helpfully compiled this list of past projects and possible future ones in Chinatown, so you can get a sense of the change in the area.

The unit counts might be off a bit here and there, but all those projects that have been completed, are under construction or have been actually submitted (so the Bonnis proposal at Union and Main doesn’t count) add up to around 950 units in about a decade. Of those, about 680 are condo and 270 are rental, almost all market rental.


129 Keefer, 29 condos over retail, James Schouw, not a rezoning. To DP board, and for sale as if approved
137 Keefer , 14 units over retail, also Schouw. Approved? Not clear whether this is also for sale or not; not a rezoning.

Future (no application yet)
Bonnis; Main & Union, potential future rezoning for 150′. Developer open house held in January, but no application yet.
Tosi’s for sale, but not yet acquired by a developer?
Various other sites have been bought/sold in the past couple of years, including the block with the Emerald restaurant and the Chinatown Supermarket, but there have been no applications. Tosi’s could get a rezoning, as far as I know nothing else is eligible.

Under construction
245 E Georgia 40 unit 9 storey rental on 25′ lot, not a rezoning.

recently completed
Framework, 231 E Pender, not a rezoning, 60 condos by Porte over retail
611 Main (188 Keefer) W T Leung for Westbank Projects, condo with 22 seniors rental over retail
633 Main (181 E Georgia) Bosa Blue Sky, all rental ‘Chinatown’ over retail.
Keefer Block, 189 Keefer, not a rezoning, 10 storey 81 condo over retail, completed 2015 built by Solterra.
The Flats, 29 unit condos on a 25′ lot with yellow steel shutters, not a rezoning, completed 2014.

V6A on Union and Ginger on Main are also condo buildings built in Chinatown to zoning, both 9 storeys, completed 2009 and 2010.

Besides my friend’s list, I’d add that BC Housing is about to rebuild a social-housing project in Chinatown, adding some market units to it and replacing all of the existing ones.

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  • Ralph Segal

    Thanks, Frances, for this summary. One address correction – Keefer Block address is 189 Keefer (not 105 Keefer, the Rezoning application sparking such controversy, now in midst of a 2-day Public Hearing!). As you note, Keefer Block (189 Keefer), now built just up the block corner of Main St., was developed by Solterra, Architect Foad Rafii, under HA-1A zoning (not a rezoning) and the Chinatown design guidelines to a height of 90 ft., was supported unanimously by the Urban Design Panel, “enthusiastically” by CHAPC (Chinatown Historic Area Planning Committee) and Vancouver Heritage Commission when it went through the Development Application process in 2012. Whether you like 189 Keefer (Keefer Block) or not, it went through a legitimate Development Application process under zoning that is still in place and was uncontroversial at the time.

  • peakie

    129 Keefer, 137 Keefer, James Schouw?
    Isn’t he banned?

    Vancouver Sun, May 19, 2017 Prominent Vancouver developer James Schouw banned for fraud
    ….”Schouw and Hornby Residences have been ordered to cease trading any securities or exchange contracts.
    “They are both also banned from becoming or acting as a registrant or promoter, acting in a management or consultative capacity in connection with activities in the securities market, and engaging in investor relations activities,” a statement says.
    In a separate disciplinary action, Postmedia reported in April, Schouw was fined $300,000 by the Canada Revenue Agency for evading GST on housing units sold….

  • Lewis_N_Villegas

    After 30 years of seeing this train derail and now careen downhill towards a never ending hit after hit of density, density, density, I’ve come to understand the problem in a different way, see:

    Density kills. That’s probably the title of an upcoming post. Density kills neighborhoods, social functioning and streets. I’m willing to go one further. The Paris density of the 1850-1870 period, that kept apace into the 1920s when two floors were added to the Maisonette once elevators were retrofitted, that density killed Paris. Belle Epoch notwithstanding.

    I began to see this when it became readily apparent to me that Renaissance Rome was a far more hospitable place to stay than Paris. More compact, even with the historic hole-in-the-center that is the impassable Roman Forum, once the beating heart of the whole metropolis, but for centuries a miserable ruin. But even with its heart ripped out, historic Rome is better than Paris as a place to visit and experience. I have not ‘lived’ in either one.

    And while we are at it, Mahattan is horrible. Just ask someone who has lived there (again, multiple visits but never made it my home). The only place in Manhattan that was respectable as a neighborhood was the Village, and despite the valiant efforts of Jane Jacobs, most of the village residents must stand at the ready to go up in arms anytime a tall building threatens to go up. And it happens regularly.

    The subway was part of the problem in both Paris and New York. The skytrain is part of our problem here. Too dense. If you read the post you’ll see my reference to economic theory that states matter of factly that if too much private and public investment goes into a too small piece of land it has a distorting effect on the prices all around it.

    Do this over and over, as we have been doing here for 30 years, and watch the whole thing get away. Watch housing become 5x too expensive to afford on a median income. And all for what?

  • mamabaceda

    No one has asked this: if these Chinatown buildings matter so much then why don’t Chinese businessmen buy them and preserve or renovate them for the benefit of Chinese. Well, one answer is that Chinese comprise different groups and generations. The new Chinese money from China have no interest, relation or empathy for old Chinatown. They think that represents the day when Chinese were hapless victims of the white man and old Chinatown was a Chinese ghetto. Mainland Chinese want to own, develop, shop in the same shiny luxury malls they have in Asia. I wonder why rich local Canadian-Chinese going back for a few generations haven’t stepped up. Indeed, for example, what about Robert Lee, founder of Prospero and former chancellor of UBC? I thought he was rich. Or his daughter Carol Lee who owns a successful cosmetic company. She is always preaching about Chinatown conservation. She’s from a rich family; she should be able to buy the Keefer project. You see, the very problem is the Vancouver Chinese, those who own those buildings have failed to work together to save their heritage. It is unrealistic to think Beedle should take a loss for Chinatown.