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Robertson scrambles to get out in front of Waldorf Hotel mess, looking for things the city can do

January 11th, 2013 · 59 Comments

This just out from the city, along with a link here to the story Rod and I did for today’s Globe, which hinted this was coming.

Motion, report coming forward to protect Waldorf

 

Vancouver – Mayor Robertson has directed the City Manager to bring forward a report to the next Council meeting on protecting the Waldorf Hotel, and will be introducing a motion asking staff to meet with Waldorf Productions to discuss options for continuing an arts and culture venue in Vancouver, including options for continuing on site.

 

“The Waldorf is both a significant cultural amenity and a major neighbourhood asset, one that resonates with people of all ages throughout Vancouver,” said Mayor Robertson. “To lose such a historic building would be a big blow, which is why we need to do what we can to protect it – we need to be building up Vancouver’s arts and culture. I want to ensure the Waldorf Hotel is protected and that we don’t lose a valuable live performance venue.”

 

The Mayor has asked the City Manager to prepare a report for this Tuesday’s council meeting that would protect the Waldorf Hotel and its heritage values, including plans to prevent any demolition of the building. The staff report will include:

 

·             Steps to prevent any Demolition Permit from being issued, in the event the owners were to seek one;

·             Preparing a Statement of Significance for the Waldorf Hotel, based on its cultural heritage, followed by a report back to Council on retention options.

 

The Mayor’s motion will also ask City staff to meet with Waldorf Productions to discuss their business plan and identify possibilities for continuing an arts and culture venue in Vancouver, including partnerships with other organizations. The motion will also ask staff to consult with the current and new landowners to see if any accommodations can be made to keep Waldorf Productions on site.

 

“It’s disappointing that Waldorf Productions is intending to stop operations – we need more cultural venues in Vancouver,” added the Mayor. “City Hall has done a big push in the past few years on increasing artist space, whether it was saving the York Theatre, offering city-owned buildings for lease to arts groups, or delivering over 20,000 square feet of new studio space in 2012. I’m hopeful we can find a new solution.”

Categories: Uncategorized

59 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Mike Klassen // Jan 11, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Thanks for your coverage of this interesting issue, Frances. Here is my analysis of what has happened so far. It might help to explain to your readers the urgency on Mayor Gregor’s part.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/mike-klassen/hotel-waldorf-vancouver-closes-solterra_b_2456900.html

  • 2 Bill Lee // Jan 11, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Is this all in “a statement” ?
    Is Mr. Roberton actually making sounds, speaking to the public, etc.
    Can we hear it on radio?

    Has Mr. (Pottymouth) come unhinged and handlers like Meggs and Quinlan (and City Manager) making things up for him?

    I read this as City Manager said “we are going to do this, and you are going to say this”

    So now it is “Waldorf Productions” that is being helped, sorta, not the Hotel site.
    And as Gregor played in a band at the Biltmore Hotel is that getting special deals too?
    What about the former Eldorado Hotel?

    And the historic hotels of downtown who used to have bands?

    The midnight story by Madame Bula and Mickelburgh

    “New owners say they have no plans to tear down the Waldorf”
    ROD MICKLEBURGH and FRANCES BULA
    VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail
    Published Thursday, Jan. 10 2013, 11:45 PM EST
    Last updated Thursday, Jan. 10 2013, 11:51 PM EST
    …”Sources say city staff are already scrambling to figure out possible solutions to the chaotic situation.”…
    …”One possibility would see the current operators return to the hotel and continue to run its existing operations, which include an art gallery, nightclub, bar and restaurant, along with space for cultural events. That would require some pressure from the city, an informal agreement on the site’s future, and an end to the animosity between Waldorf Productions and the property’s landlord.
    A more likely scenario would preserve the Waldorf as a heritage building and future arts venue under new operators, while allowing development on the property’s large parking lots.”

    Now about W2 at Woodwards monstrosity.

    And what about the VAG benefit?
    Is Broadway going to keep the Hollywood?
    Can the Park be turned into a Repertory Cinema just up the street from The Hall?

  • 3 boohoo // Jan 11, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    hizzoner Mike?

    I love how everyone ‘what can we learn from this’…this thing that is 3 days old. Why don’t we all chill the hell out and learn about what this is all about before we start freaking out?

  • 4 Glissando Remmy // Jan 11, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    Thought of The Day

    “The ‘Vancouver+Stupid’ themed T-shirts with the slogan “ICH BIN EIN STUPIDER” sales, must be going throw the roof…”

    And of course I’m addressing that thought to the crowd that continue to believe the words that come out of Vancouver Mayor’s mouth.
    My educated conclusion is…
    “Much Ado About Nothing.”

    Waldorf is a business. Whatever its use there will always be a contract between a landlord and a lessee. If the conditions of the contract are not fulfilled, the contract is broken, the lease is terminated . Period.
    All the above conditions have been met.
    I understand the hipsters cohabiting in that space thought that they were too sexy for their shirts, but in the end when monies are involved… tough, eh.
    Here’s the funny part though, da Mayor and his Vision pals are crying crocodile tears, saying that the City, which is “me and you money”, are
    looking for solutions…
    Eff me Rhonda, if that’s not grand!
    How come when a city owned ‘community hub’ broke the deed, aka W2Woodwards, they did not run looking for solutions trying to save it?
    Double standards?

    Add to that the VIAwesome and Marcella Munro’s pish and the stone soup is complete.
    The whole village is out.

    Could it be because Solterra purchased a full table at last year Vision Vancouver fund raising?
    And now, it is in damage control, political mitigation, effing adaptation time?
    You be the judge.

    In the end, here’s the thang, much ado about nothing, Solterra, if they are really smart, and after a short behind the doors convo with the savior Mayor and his band of merry Vision music-ants will grant them a generous relaxation/ heritage density transfer or the one time only 200 enclosed balconies codicil, they’ll think of something, so the building will be saved, the business use lease will be renewed for 99 years with an option to buy, just like a Hoot, of course tax free hush hush on the QT.

    For all of you courageous enough to articulate your own opinion, let’s be frank, take a walk in the area, but don’t take a Google Maps walk, take a real walk, disregard the chicken smell in the air, and the shitty buildings that are holding up thanks to coats of paint and lots of Duct tape, disregard the empty, dirty, parking lots and tell me…

    Here’s my question:
    Say that psychedelic interior designed pub would be still there in a month time, ahem, when exactly would you have in mind to attend/ visit/ have brunch … ?
    My point exactly!

    Me? I wouldn’t worry much.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0e10baH6cE

    The Vancouver “leadership” didn’t give a sheat on the Ridge, the Hollywood, the Rio, the Denman Cinema, the Pantages, Maxine’s, Granville 7s, the Playhouse … formerly known as “local entertainment” OR the Little Mountain Housing Coop aka “affordable housing” OR the Bloedel Conservatory (saved by the effort, time and money citizens of Vancouver) OR the Stanley Park’s Children Petting Zoo aka “family amenities”, the (insert here) …

    If they could only find a way to give themselves a pay raise now, hmm, that would be just golden.
    Oh, wait… :-)

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

    PS.
    Excellent post in the Huffington by Mike Klassen, try link #1
    Bill Lee #2
    “What about the Eldorado Hotel?
    And what about the VAG benefit?… the Hollywood, the Park…”
    Well said! Well said!

  • 5 Anne M // Jan 11, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    That seems like a vast overreaction from the Mayor at this very early stage. It is interesting to see what gets his attention.

  • 6 rf // Jan 11, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    It’s funny that when it’s a the son of a mega-rich non-Vancouver family that screws up his business, Gregor suddenly jumps into action.

    I guess he was able to identify with Anselmi Jr. better than the average business owner.

    And to think, if they’d only gone to daddy for help they could have just paid the rent and had nothing to worry about for 15 years.

    Good thing Gregor is there to defend the next generation of hipsters from their business follies.

    What a joke.

    I spent countless nights in the Starfish room, Luvaffair, Kits Pub, and other grungy places that faded away with time. It happens. Every dive bar used to be cool at some point. It’s not a tragedy if it happens to be cool right now.

    These west side and Toronto debutantes were dumb enough to blow all their cash on building a cool ceiling and bar and forgot to make money and pay the rent.

    That’s who we’re bailing out now?

    Madness.

  • 7 PW // Jan 11, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Fascinating watching the (over)reaction to this issue. The next couple of years are going to be most interesting as this city undergoes some dramatic economic and, as a result, political, changes.
    Not long ago the Developer and the City could have quietly sat down and cooked up some scheme that satisfied everyone and passed along all the costs to the condo buyer. But now that the condo buyer has gone missing and is going to stay missing, somebody else has to be found to foot the bill.
    Of course that somebody is the City. But the City is about as addicted to revenue from development as the average developer. It needs more, more, MORE revenue from development, not less. How many in-kind concessions can the City really make before that too generates this kind of reaction!

  • 8 Bill Lee // Jan 11, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    Can we have reminiscences of old memories of when Queen Street West was hip and the hotels had not become chic, trendy and “mentioned” in bold names.

    Or of the Plateau and Rue Prince Arthur when there was a Warshaw’s.

  • 9 Mark Bowen // Jan 11, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    So people complain constantly that the city is always selling out to developers, that we have no culture, that this is “no fun city”… but when the city does finally stand up to protect a cultural space, suddenly it’s a waste of resources to do so?

  • 10 spartikus // Jan 11, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    So people complain constantly that the city is always selling out to developers, that we have no culture, that this is “no fun city”… but when the city does finally stand up to protect a cultural space, suddenly it’s a waste of resources to do so?

    You have discovered the secret of internet debating: If A, then B. If B, then A.

  • 11 ThinkOutsideABox // Jan 11, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    Can we have reminiscences of old memories of when Queen Street West was hip and the hotels had not become chic, trendy and “mentioned” in bold names.

    You mean like The Drake?

    “The Mayor has asked the City Manager to prepare a report for this Tuesday’s council meeting that would protect the Waldorf Hotel and its heritage values…”

    This is interesting. Members of the Planning & Environment committee (that’s the mayor and council) must remain impartial and open minded when considering a rezoning proposal (I know, another quaint notion). If Solterra’s rezoning proposal includes heritage retention, will the mayor recuse himself from the committee on this one for being so obviously biased?

  • 12 Brad // Jan 11, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    The same argument could have been made to keep the Ridge theatre and bowling lane alive and be saved from the wrecking ball. But the Mayor and Council said their hands were tied. This has everything to do with politics and meddling in private business matters.

  • 13 Threadkiller // Jan 11, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    @ Bill Lee # 8:
    Re Queen Street: I don’t know if it was considered “hip”or not, but I still miss Pages. And Edwards Books & Art– incredible art-book remainders. And what was the name of the Caribbean-themed club located in the former laundry (it still had the laundry’s smokestack) which was *the* reggae spot in T.O. for years? I loved their “spicy Thai noodles” (Pad Thai, by any other name)– I used to go there on my last night in town whenever I visited. A little ritual… and is the Horseshoe Tavern still there? And the Bovine Sex Club (no, I’m not kidding, that was its actual name), west of Spadina? Vancouver could only look on in envy.

  • 14 jesse // Jan 11, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    I get the desire to malign the political parties for kowtowing to developers who fund their campaigns on one hand and protecting their ‘under-40′ voter base on the other, but any look at the City budget should produce no surprise that, regardless the parties in power on 12th and Cambie, there is huge incentive to grant construction permits and keep the cash flowing in to fund ongoing operations. The round of layoffs in 2009-2010 more than coincidental with the fallout from the 2008-2009 housing recession.

    Other cities have managed to foster arts but this comes as a subsidy by increasing taxes elsewhere in lieu, or looking for more monied benefactors who can trickle down some funding through the artistic food chain. Vancouver seems unwilling, or unable, to make the shift.

  • 15 Sandy Garossino // Jan 11, 2013 at 11:58 pm

    Something in Vancouver just snapped when Wednesday’s news broke about the Waldorf.

    It wasn’t because the Waldorf matters more than the Playhouse, Pantages Theatre, Granville 7 (VIFF), the Ridge, MusicFest, the Red Gates, W2, Shannon Mews, or the Rize.

    But it became their symbol.

    Each one of these cases, whether cultural or site oriented, had its own internal peculiarities and challenges, as does the Waldorf. Taken as a whole they reflect the heart of our beloved city tossed casually into the gaping maw of real estate speculation and mindless development that has no air of reality to the people who actually live here.

    Condos, condos everywhere, nor any spot to live. Like an invasive species, the condo economy pushes out all other forms of life.

    We love our city–we love what it was and what it can be, but both are vanishing and we all know something’s wrong.

    Something’s wrong when a madly popular club and cultural venue located in a light industrial district falls cannot compete with the inevitable condo developer who appears to buy up the land wherever anything good is happening.

    Vancouver, this is why you can’t have nice things.

    And something’s very wrong about elections financed on both sides by re-zoning applicants themselves, and every application appears to be a fait accompli. The only haggling is about how much.

    Something’s got to give, and on Wednesday afternoon, it finally did. Vancouver had a collective conniption. It had reached the limit.

    The city itself has signalled that there is a limit to how much of this it will take, and we’ve reached it.

  • 16 Silly Season // Jan 12, 2013 at 12:07 am

    I really wish that the City would have coherent, well thought out policies and strategies in place instead of inventing ‘next moves’ on the back of napkins. This stuff does nothing for our cultural OR business cred. Strictly, ‘Amateur Night in Dixieland’ (or the Tiki Lounge).

    I’m not enamoured of ‘the deals’ between the City and developers, as they currently exist (and if anyone can help explain the formula, let us know).

    They always seem to have strings attached. I suppose the developer could promise to keep the Waldorf—but for how long? And who would determine best use?

    And in return the developer gets, what, increased density? A break on property tax on the hotel’s portion of the property (that is a cost to the taxpayer, in subsidy).

    And if that property is subsidized, what gets cut from the budget—more community centre hours or other civic amenities?

    So, some thoughts. Is there policy on:

    1) Identifying older buildings to save, in advance, and which to let go. And on what basis they would do this, at all? As part of the cultural policy? Recreation? And why is the City so concerned about helping out a FOR PROFIT business (that can’t TURN a profit?) at that particular site.

    I wonder if this issue might regalvanize all the nice people who live, visit and play around the Ridge?

    2) Hitting up the very wealthy to help buy/preserve buildings for cultural/community purposes? They do this very successfully through foundations and private investment in NYC, San Fran, etc.

    3) Seriously, sounds like this business group either got snookered—or just learned the biggest business lesson of their lives.

    Is the Mayor going to respond to every biz blooper in a like-minded fashion fashion (first offering to help them find another venue to operate a bar/club/restaurant from? Come ON!).

    If so, might I interest the taxpayers in this concept: combo art gallery/pool hall/wet bar/pet grooming/laundromat? I would be delighted to have my fellow Vancouverites…er…partner…in this EARNEST endeavour. Please send the rent money directly to my business associate in Nigeria.

    Any other people out there who own private commercial property that they may want to sell one day, or who may want to approach the City about re-zoning, should seriously think about the implications of this bizarre ad hoc process.

  • 17 brilliant // Jan 12, 2013 at 12:21 am

    What a hypocrite Robertson is. As was pointed out upthread, the city actually aided & abbetted The Ridge developers with some land. But of course, it was NPA territory they were screwing over then. This is different-LOL. BTW anyone notice the parking lots for the Ridge are for sale as single family lots? How “green”!

    Sadly there are enough simps who wet themselves over bike lanes and backyard chickens to get these citywreckers re-elected.

  • 18 DW // Jan 12, 2013 at 10:47 am

    The Waldorf Public House – a Donnelly Pub Group joint. Kids from Surrey and the Tri-Cities – experience the Tiki Bar in black with $8 highball specials.

    Love it!

  • 19 Silly Season // Jan 12, 2013 at 11:31 am

    In a way, I hope this all lands in court so we can see ‘who’s zoomin’ who’.

    Would love the full story: lease terms, ‘informal’ agreements, payment schedules, etc. etc. etc.

    Then the Sauder and Beedie schools of business can incorporate it all into their MBA programs!

    I would consider THAT a civic service.

  • 20 Silly Season // Jan 12, 2013 at 11:44 am

    From Gordon Price:

    http://pricetags.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/mixed-salad-thoughts-on-the-waldorf/

  • 21 waltyss // Jan 12, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    @Sandy at #15
    I have a lot of time for your work opposing the expansion of the casino but I am reluctantly having problems with your position here.
    You are quoted in the G&M (Marsha Lederman’s hair on fire article) as saying these guys sunk a million dollars into the Waldorf and either didn’t have a lease or surrendered a 15 year lease for a 4 month lease. If that is true, then thèse guys are business people, they are idiots.
    You say the Waldorf was , “a madly popular club and cultural venue”. If so, how come they apparently could not pay their rent some months and the art gallery paid no rent. Did it give thé art away. As it was with the Playhouse, all these people who brayed when it closed never went there. I had season tickets and was considering giving them up because the productions were, well, borin. Most nights and for most productions it was seldom over half full. The City subsidized it and was criticized for it.
    At Woodwards the City provided space and the tenants as I understand never paid the rent.
    I very much doubt the taxpayers of this city are prepared to subsidize these venues.
    As for condos, well, most of these developers are quite wealthy and have gotten that way because they seem to build and sell their product. That may be because people want to live here and condos are what they can afford including on the east side.
    If we are going to force them to provide amenities and low/no rent for Waldorf type places, what other amenities do we displace?
    This is all worthy of a principled civilized debate/ It is a complex issue.
    I do not pretend to know the answer or where the balance lies. However, I would ask you what your solution is? You are, after all, a political wannabe who will probably run in the next élection. What do you propose? This is not a facetious question (I save those for the brilliant nots of the world) but a sincere question. You have identified a problem that has many different facets and implications. How do you propose we solve it?

  • 22 waltyss // Jan 12, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    @Silly Season # 20. I too commend Gordon Price’s article as touching thoughtfully on the many difficult facets.

  • 23 A Dave // Jan 12, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    “I really wish that the City would have coherent, well thought out policies and strategies in place instead of inventing ‘next moves’ on the back of napkins. This stuff does nothing for our cultural OR business cred. Strictly, ‘Amateur Night in Dixieland’ (or the Tiki Lounge).”

    Absolute agreement, Silly Season. Vision promised change, and said they recognized the threat to cultural spaces in an over-heated real-estate market. They made Arts and Culture one of the pillars of their election and re-election platforms.

    Then they sat on their hands and started studying things.

    Despite a freshly completed Cultural Facilities Plan and new 10 year Culture Plan, and reports like Saccho’s “The Power of the Arts in Vancouver”, which is surely the best articulation of “the multiplier effect” in the arts, and why the long-term investments into heritage and culture will payback the initial public investments a thousand times over in the decades to follow (in real money). Some of these reports, like Dobbel’s ridiculous “Cultural Precinct Plan” deserved to get tossed in the bin (just don’t tell K. Bartels that, as she, alone, loves the idea, and keeps on pushing to be the main beneficiary of it).

    But Vision sat on their hands, apparently ignorant of all the research that had gone before them.

    Arts Council, no, Advisory Council, maybe. Cultural zones? Eventually. As Price reports, a new study is due soon. And, over $100,000 was even gifted to MacDonald Realty to “study” options for preserving the Pantages Theatre. Gah! Any guesses what Rob M. decided was the best option? Demolish! But actually, we’ll never know what that report said, because the report was buried. But we do know the end result.

    If Council really made it a priority to “preserve cultural spaces” starting back in 2008, Vancouver would be a much more interesting place to live right now.

    And it does beg the question: where has all the “arts amenity” money from re-zonings gone? Where’s the audit? What is the priority: public art in otherwise sterile courtyards shadowed by towers, or preserving heritage, exhibition and performance spaces, like Vision promised?

    For example, where will the arts portion of the Rize’s 6 million amenity payment go? To a new staid facility that really isn’t needed but will enable a ribbon cutting and platitudes, or to preserving something unique, heritage or already well-established (like, say, the old Jentzen showroom, with its wonderful beams and vaulted skylights, that they will demolish, along with the old Cave club, to make way for the Rize)?

    Let’s face it, “The Arts” has become little more than a catch-all bargaining chip for Council to use during re-zonings. Who knows where the money goes?

    And the Waldorf is just a symptom of these larger, neglected issues. It will hardly make or break the arts community if it is preserved or closes. Unfortunately, this Council has presided over the destruction of so much of this City’s culture and heritage, and ignored its civic value for so long, that there isn’t much more they can do other than make symbolic gestures like drawing a line on the Waldorf.

    And yes, plenty of folks in the arts community will have a hard time stomaching a hipster bailout, if it happens. But don’t blame them for the damned if they do, damned if they don’t outrage. Vision exacerbated these problems through five years of empty promises and neglect. They have no one to blame but themselves for the blowback.

  • 24 Bill Lee // Jan 12, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    Another coming issue will be “food security” in the city as Canada Safeway (30% of the current shopping) is sold off and stores closed.
    (The big cry, as was when the Marpole Safeway was closed for condo towers, is what about the adjoining liquor store!).

    Preserve Ahts that few see (VAG and a few dozen “non-members” a day) or participate in or compulsory block-level arts involvement on a yearly basis to get people out of their homes, away from television and learning the Chinese, Punjabi of their neighbours as they carve soapstone, build gnomes and paint urban scenes from their porch, while the portable intaglio presses are making copies for all 50 people in the block.

    Meanwhile the Doyenne of Doom, the Mother of Misery, Lachrymose Lederman in the Groan And Wail goes on as
    “Waldorf closing a ‘gutting’ of arts scene”
    by MARSHA LEDERMAN
    The Globe and Mail
    Published Friday, Jan. 11 2013, 9:27 PM EST
    Last updated Friday, Jan. 11 2013, 9:29 PM EST
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/waldorf-closing-a-gutting-of-arts-scene/article7278639/

    ….”For me, Vancouver never felt more world class than it did inside that tiny, dark shipping container.” !!!
    and
    “I’m feeling pretty gutted,” wrote Vancouver-based musician and Waldorf regular (she’s a fan of the Monday night Ice Cream Socials) Louise Burns in an e-mail this week from Los Angeles, where she’s recording an album. “Watching Vancouver slowly commit cultural suicide is a difficult thing to do.”
    In a profanity-laced tweet, Polaris-nominated musician Grimes, a Vancouver native, expressed similar displeasure, criticizing the city: “you’ve destroyed nearly every piece of culture that you had.”

    Meanwhile in TO, small Kings Street West cafes are trying to keep the feet of Condzilla at bay.

    TOWER PROJECT
    “Entertainment District’s restaurant row resists condo frenzy”
    by GAYLE MacDONALD
    The Globe and Mail
    Published Saturday, Jan. 12 2013, 12:00 AM EST
    Last updated Saturday, Jan. 12 2013, 12:13 AM EST
    …”“Approval of this project will cause a domino effect as developers, who are sitting on valuable blocks of land, will seek to build the same sort of density,” says Mr. Carbone, whose Victorian-era building will be dwarfed by the nearby condo. “It sets a precedent that will ruin the heritage of this neighbourhood, a go-to tourist destination for 20-plus years.
    When Mr. Carbone started his family-run Italian eatery, he was one of a smattering of restaurauteurs trying to attract theatregoers for a meal before hitting venues like the Mirvish’s Royal Alex theatre. Today, his is one of 22 low-slung eateries along King Street West that are fearful that condo development is spiralling out of control in the Entertainment District’s four-block radius, a parcel of land that now has 51 condo projects under way or approved by the city.” [ more ]
    theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/entertainment-districts-restaurant-row-resists-condo-frenzy/article7285865/

  • 25 brilliant // Jan 12, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    The fact is despite the NPA’s reputation as developer-friendly, Vision has been the most rapacious feeder of the development beast this city has ever seen. Cultural institutions, movie theatres, heritage buildings, entire neighbourhoods into the chipper under Vision’s oversight.

    And the usual apologists show up with the same dissembling and excuses. Meanwhile this city becomes nothing more than a bland sea of condos.

  • 26 tf // Jan 12, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    Once more – great comment A Dave #23!
    Your informed perspective helps me to place the Waldorf issue into a larger civic picture.

  • 27 Julia // Jan 12, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    Where is the VEC in all of this… or are they too busy trying to attract green jobs instead of finding ways to keep the jobs and businesses that we already have.

  • 28 westygrrl // Jan 12, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Brilliant @25 – Bang. On. Have had pleasure of attending several NPA and Vision fundraising galas in past 10 years (they can be fun), and counted more, and different, developer tables at the Vision ‘dos’ than at the NPA ones. The writing has been on the wall for four years. Does anyone still believe that money doesn’t talk with the governing party? Vision has out-NPA’d the NPA, while the city sleeps… and apparently weeps.

    Julia @27 – Indeed – where art thou, VEC?

  • 29 lars gunnerson // Jan 13, 2013 at 2:21 am

    Surprised Robertson would fight for anything that isnt a concrete condo.

  • 30 boohoo // Jan 13, 2013 at 9:36 am

    Sad to see we’re 13 days into 2013 and already the ridiculous over the top hyperbole and general losing of one’s shit is as strong as ever.

  • 31 Roger Kemble // Jan 13, 2013 at 9:57 am

    This Hastings Mendelsohn-modern cum Tahiti-tiki, a weird yet intriguing combination if ever there was one, must be saved.

    Do I remember the Tiki decor back before the seventies or am I dreaming? Maybe I’m thinquing its namesake Waldorf Astoria without the luxury manifesto.

    Yes, Kingsway’s Waldorf is a cultural icon that must be allowed to grow and thrive: a lot can come out of this (I’m thinquing Cave-Penthouse-combo refined as cultural venue).

    If Solterra, (yerrr sunny land, but for whom?), gets its hands on it, you can bet the farm, it will make all kinds of lame promises, then when the heat’s off, will go weeping to the DPB to get its way.

    The usual drill is, the developer completes the building to occupancy permit, then deeds it to a numbered company: ergo whatever lemon it turns out to be it’s off the original developers hands.

    At this stage some one is holding lot of debt. Enter the REIT that will rent it out until the . . . errrrr . . . thu market picks up.

    The market is the wild card. There are literally hundreds of empty condos littering the Vancouver landscape yet no one, least of all Thu Hall will recognize it. No one dare admit that city population proper is not growing at the rate the PR pumps pump it! The city so desperately depends on the various development permits and charges it cannot afford to let go: hence good bye Waldorf if we let them.

    Vancouver’s population is not keeping up with this condo craze but we have no convenient reference to check. The previous city web page displayed a readily available reference to neighbourhood population break down but no more. Why? Good question . . . Why?

    Indeed, the current city web page is a weak real estate promo tract, essentially directed to owners who have already bought in. (Pretty boulevards, hey the community center is just down the street . . . yerrr we know!)

    But the city needs DP revenue, and lots of it, to pay for its screw-ups which brings up back to the Waldorf!

  • 32 Brian // Jan 13, 2013 at 10:29 am

    two things.

    First, I’m surprised at the hate at Robertson in this thread. When he doesn’t stand in the way of condo developers tearing down cultural or community icons, we shame him for doing so. Then, we shame him when he does (or promises to). Damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t.

    Second, many people are complaining that giving the developer incentive to keep a space for the waldorf would drain taxpayer money. This ignores things like density bonuses, which allow a developer to access more of the land’s value without the city paying or giving a tax break.

  • 33 Rf // Jan 13, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    You kind of make the point of why there’s hate, Brian.
    When it’s a west side bowling alley frequented by seniors and the disabled, Gregors a mouse.
    But when it’s a hipster (ps. I love how hipster is like a dirty word now! It’s the new “commie”) bar that his hipster buddies like, he comes sprinting to the rescue.
    It’s why so many find him to be a flake.
    Who likes a flake?

  • 34 brilliant // Jan 13, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    @boohoo 30 translated : It’s only 13 days into 2013 and people are daring to criticize Vision’s inept bumbling and on the fly policy making.

    @Brian 32-Rf sums it up – what’s behind the difference in action between the Waldorf and the Ridge?

  • 35 Cheezwiz // Jan 13, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    @ Brian #32 I think the Mayor has gotten himself into an unexpected PR pickle. The result is “damned if you do damned if you don’t”.

    Apparently the Waldorf people allowed him to hold campaign fundraisers at their establishment, which might explain why he rushed to issue a supportive statement so quickly.

    He’s simply behaved as a typical politician: taking funding from developers while simultaneously trying to snag votes from younger voters by promising support for the arts. The two have now converged unexpectedly in a rather embarassing manner.

    Not likely the Waldorf will be saved in it’s present form, but hopefully the uproar it’s caused will at least prevent the structure from being demolished – it really is a unique relic.

    If only Gregor had paid more attention to the many other things we’ve lost.

  • 36 ThinkOutsideABox // Jan 13, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    First, I’m surprised at the hate at Robertson in this thread. When he doesn’t stand in the way of condo developers tearing down cultural or community icons, we shame him for doing so. Then, we shame him when he does…

    I just tried to recall any other heritage, cultural or community assets under threat that the mayor made efforts to preserve these past 4 years and I can’t recall a single one. Can anyone list any others?

  • 37 boohoo // Jan 13, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    brilliant,

    Do I bother?

    As usual, this is a lose lose for the government depending on the angle you want to play.

    They come to the rescue of the waldorf, it’s inept on the fly policy making. They don’t, they are heritage destroying condo lovers.

    At least stop pretending you’re trying to be balanced about any of this.

  • 38 A Dave // Jan 13, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    “This ignores things like density bonuses, which allow a developer to access more of the land’s value without the city paying or giving a tax break.”

    True, Brian, but the Heritage Density Transfer program was run into the ground by former DOP Brent Toderian (who — purposely, it seemed — refused to act on any of the recommendations in 2 separate reports that warned of the impending problems).

    Once Toderian successfully turned the program into a complete shambles, he moved to put a moratorium on the program, passed by Council in early 2010, which has since shut down any heritage preservation that would use this tool to preserve heritage/cultural spaces like the Pantages, or now the Waldorf (not sure if the Waldorf is even on the Heritage Registry?).

    In my opinion, a kneecapped Heritage Density Transfer program fit in perfectly with Toderian’s Historic Area Height Review (HAHR) and the movement to tear down the viaducts. These three policies combined have pretty much eviscerated long-standing City cultural preservation policies (created post-Chinatown Freeway/Mayor Tom Campbell) in the Historic Area, and opened the whole area up to the condo towers now coming to Chinatown, the Pantages condos, etc., and rampant speculation that has followed in the DTES.

    For example, once the Heritage Density Transfer program moratorium came into effect, the owners of the Chinese Benevolent Societies had little choice but to sign on with Toderian’s proposal for the Main Street towers, as it was really the only way to get any City money to renovate their 100 year old buildings – despite their historic, cultural and civic value. They, and others who were trying to preserve historic buildings in the area under the old rules, were blindsided by the moratorium, and suddenly “let’s make a condo tower amenity deal” became the only avenue.

    That, to me, is a City that is run by people who are either too ignorant or shortsighted or addicted to DP money (as Roger notes) to recognize the true long-term value of preserving historic/cultural spaces.

    So yes, it is frustrating to see what has happened under Vision (actually, as others note, most of this was started by Sullivan/NPA and just ramped up under Vision), and also rather ironic that, 40+ years later, our “progressive” (some would say “hippy-dippy”) Council has come full circle, and their policies closely mirror Tom Campbell’s full-stop, tear-it-down, development-crazy government, given that old Tom absolutely hated hippies and was never afraid to say so!

  • 39 Cheezwiz // Jan 13, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    A Dave #38 Thanks for your insights on Heritage transfer. It always makes me laugh when people refer to the Mayor as “Mayor Moonbeam” as if he’s some sort of leftist hippy-dippy. As Brilliant pointed out in an earlier post, Vision’s policies have been just as destructive as the NPA’s if not more so.

  • 40 Silly Season // Jan 13, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    A Dave, thank you for all the explicit background on this subject.

    It helps to explain why we are where we are today.

  • 41 Joe Just Joe // Jan 13, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    The heritage density bank was a great concept that was ruined by council due to the lack of customers. Who is going to buy density off a holder for $65psf (going rate in bulk is actually closer to $45psf) when the city just gives out density to anyone that asks in exchange for just the negotiated behind closed doors CACs. The city has has upset the few developers that worked to preserve the historic buildings as they are stuck with density that they can’t offload. The only option is to use it up yourself on your own projects which isn’t how the system was supposed to work.

  • 42 Paul // Jan 14, 2013 at 10:49 am

    How can one “Save the Waldorf” now?

    One thing that’s not being talked about is difficult Waldorf Productions have made it for anyone to partner up with them for anything entertainment, RE development, or any kind of business partnership.

    They’re not financially responsibility, admit to knowing little about key elements of their business, and can’t manage cash flow.

    And when they don’t get their way, they blow the whole thing up, creating a huge mess that makes any kind of help or solution near impossible.

    And this is just craziness: http://straight.com/news/342681/waldorf-hotel-entertainment-leaseholder-sought-get-property-redeveloped-around-cultural-hub

    One of the important lessons I hope comes out of this is one of the importance of proactive, functional, respectful, and realistic business (and political) partnerships.

  • 43 brilliant // Jan 14, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    @Boohoo 37-Your balanced commentary has assuaged my fears. I’m sure Gregor will shrewdly negotiate preservation of the Waldorf sign and if we’re lucky the facade, tastefully stuck onto a deluxe 5 story condo. Maxine’s Hideaway Part Deux.

  • 44 gman // Jan 14, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    Ahhh..so the plot thickens.Pauls link adds a few new twists to the ongoing saga
    This makes me think about what was done with the Yale,I dont know the details but I know I get my bar back when the dust settles and that’s a good thing.I feel I spent enough money in there over the years I should get shares.
    http://www.vancouversun.com/entertainment/Vancouver+blues+legend+bows/5699172/story.html

  • 45 waltyss // Jan 14, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    @Paul #42. The Georgia Straight article makes clear that the Waldorf Production guys are pretty flaky and that this story has more to do with financial irresponsibility than it does with a “magical” place, as Sandy Garossino describes it, being destroyed by big, ugly developers. These are guys who often have not paid their rent and owe the Government of Canada money which likely means that have not been remitting income tax, CPP and EI payments including those they deducted from employees paycheques to the government.
    A case may be made that as part of rezoning some venue be preserved at that location if that is the best use of the city’s leverage but I am coming to the conclusion that it should not be with Waldorf Productions.

  • 46 Paul // Jan 14, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    The Waldorf Comms team have put this up in response: http://www.waldorfhotel.com/2013/01/the-team-at-the-waldorf-created-a-community-driven-and-financially-viable-business-that-was-thriving/

  • 47 boohoo // Jan 14, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    Way to ignore my point brilliant, you’re good at that.

  • 48 Paul // Jan 14, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    Oh and one more thing that may be worthy of discussion:

    At a now-prescient event at the Hotel Georgia in the fall where the topic was “Building and Artistic Community – The Hotel as a Creative Hub”, local artist and academic Landon MacKenzie pointed out that the brand new amenity spaces granted to arts and cultural by real estate developers are often not conducive to the creative process. The best artist spaces are raw, industrial, and as far from new and up to building code as is possible.

    So, if the parties involved preserve the use of the land as part of a new development, will it be as well used, revered, and useful as what was there today?

  • 49 waltyss // Jan 14, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    re the Waldort Hotel posting. They state: ““We are reaching out to Solterra and hoping to find a fair and constructive solution,” says Gomez.
    The way to do this is not to claim you have received an eviction notice, fire your staff and run to the press blindsiding both your existing landlord and new owner in the process.
    This combined with trying to find a buyer for a property you don’t own behind the back fo the landlord.
    They have amploy demonstrated the flaky “I’m an artist and therefore are not bound by the usual protocols of business” syndrome.
    Some of this sinking money into the project is simply not paying their bills like Revenue Canada and employee benefit plans. That does not fall within the normal defintion of “investment”.
    And as others have noted before, including me, you have to be a complete doofus to invest $1.2 million into a project without a pretty solid long term least that would protect you even if the property were sold.

  • 50 Frankenwaldorf! // Jan 14, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    Hubris (pron.: /ˈhjuːbrɪs/), also hybris, from ancient Greek ὕβρις, means extreme pride or arrogance.

    Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one’s own competence or capabilities.

    *cough*

    @Waltyss # 45. I agree entirely with you.

    Well, at least we can see that Waldorf Productions has SOME concept of OPM (other people’s money)—or land.
    ;-)

    But I see some other problems, too.

    Not content with merely not paying rent, youngish Mr. Gomez, goes ‘all in’. Not only does he indicate that he can swing a major land deal (not his own land, mind you), but hints—broadly–that ‘The City has had a very positive reaction to our ideas.”

    Well, that’s bringin’ out the bazookas, innit?!

    (Naturally, if Mr. Gomez has had discussions with ‘someone’ at City Hall , we would certainly all like to know ‘who’ and for how long).

    Now, I don’t know if Mr. Gomez is trying to get his hands on the property himself, or alleviate some of his own financial problems, or make nice with City Hall over policy (however it is defined today)—but it appears that he has definitely ‘over reached’ at this point.

    Sigh. The owner of the property is always the last to know, isn’t he?

  • 51 Stephanie // Jan 14, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    @gman: Oh, what is this? “…Puharich and his former real-estate representative, Scott Primrose…”? Some old Lee Building tenants will know just how funny this is.

    It’s a small city, a small city indeed.

  • 52 Claudia // Jan 14, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    Maybe this event adds to the Mayor’s keen support for the Waldorf?

    Spouse has signed up with her date.

    http://hollyhockcataloguelaunch2013.eventbrite.com/

  • 53 Joe Just Joe // Jan 15, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Looks like the solution to the problem is a 120day cooling off period while the city studies wether the Waldorf has any historic significance. The city seems to be much more cautious then it was when the news first broke.

    Anyone interested in seeing the riveting presentation by Penny it can be found here

    http://former.vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20130115/documents/rr2presentation.pdf

  • 54 Frank Ducote // Jan 15, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    JJJ@53 – why did the City Manager give thta presentation? It sure looks like a planner did the work, so why not the delivery to Council? Again, where’s Waldo, er, Brian Jackson in all of this?

  • 55 Bill McCreery // Jan 15, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    Thank you A Dave 23, 38, JJJ 41 and Frank 54 for your articulate description, clarifications, probes and questions with respect to the City’s role in this mess, particularly with resect to the workings of the Planning Department’s and it’s significant players policies and roles.

  • 56 brilliant // Jan 16, 2013 at 10:35 am

    @Frank Ducote 54-Need yiu ask? It’s all political, bring out the big guns to defend the Waldorf. Don’t know where Ballem was during the Ridge debacle. It’s all in the protest photos from City Hall: Waldorf beautiful, young dewey eyed hipsters; Ridge icky old people who bowl and are likely NPA voters anyway.

  • 57 Rick // Jan 16, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    I really wish that the City would have coherent, well thought out policies and strategies in place instead of inventing ‘next moves’ on the back of napkins.

    SS – hear, hear, but when they swim with the sharks, they gonna sleep with the fishes.

  • 58 InsiderDoug // Feb 21, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    A Dave #38…

    I showed your comment to people who know what Rob Jenkins, Brent Toderian and heritage staff did to save the Heritage Bank from collapse over the last few years, and they laughed out loud – the words “this guy doesn’t have the foggiest clue” were spoken. But I love how other commentors after you thanked some random anonymous guy for his slanderous rant, just taking on faith anything he said. Such is life, in here with all us anonymous people.

    But from one to another, A Dave – you haven’t the foggiest clue.

  • 59 Bill Lee // Feb 25, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    More on food security above, when both Safeway and Overwaitea (Save-on, Overwaitea, Buy-Low) are rumoured to be for sale in the invasion of US Giants.
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/canadian-grocery-stocks-tasty-but-with-a-limited-shelf-life/article8990023/

    And as both chains are consumers of land, wholesale warehouses and such, the consolidation with existing chains will narrow the choice of outlets by more than 30-60% as the buyers close formerly competing outlets.

    “These developments prompt analysts to suggest that U.S. grocer Safeway Inc. will sell its Canadian division, which racked up $6.7-billion (U.S.) in sales in 2011, primarily in the western provinces. With a strong presence in Vancouver, plenty of real estate, and a solid pharmacy business, it’s an attractive property.

    “Anyone would have to pay premium dollars – and then worry about whether it was worth it,” says Ed Strapagiel, a long-time Toronto retail consultant.

    Karen Short, who covers Safeway for BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc.’s U.S. affiliate, suggested last month Safeway could fetch $5.5-billion (Canadian), or 10 times her estimate of the Canadian division’s EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization). CIBC’s Perry Caicco believes the price would be $6.4-billion, or 13 times his EBITDA estimate. (Tip: Safeway’s entire market capitalization right now is just $5.5-billion [U.S.], suggesting U.S. investors either discount this possibility, or are woefully undervaluing the shares.)”
    …”Mr. Caicco (who declined to be interviewed) suggests a Safeway sale could then set off a series of subsequent deals. In his playbook, he analyzes a sale of B.C. grocer Overwaitea, a Metro/Jean Coutu merger and a Loblaw purchase of Shoppers Drug Mart at $61 per share.”

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