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Vancouver buys Ramada Hotel on Kingsway for $15.5 million to provide low-cost housing

November 12th, 2012 · 27 Comments

This story started floating around the community about three weeks ago. For whatever reason, the city has chosen not to announce the sale. But my sources told me it went through Oct. 30 and people at Collingwood Neighbourhood House are starting to ask for meetings with the city to get more precise ideas on what is going to happen there.

My story in the Globe is here and pasted below

November 11, 2012

Vancouver buys Ramada Inn with eye to housing seniors


City to use site for seniors displaced from residences being renovated; social housing a long-term possibility

In a new approach to tackle Vancouver’s ongoing problems with low-cost housing and homelessness, the city has bought the Ramada Hotel on Kingsway – far from the downtown core.

Councillor Kerry Jang, who confirmed to The Globe and Mail the as-yet-unannounced purchase of the 122-room hotel, said the building is going to be used as housing for seniors who need to be moved from other residences in the city that require renovation.

He said the city hasn’t completed overall planning for the hotel, but noted Vancouver has a policy of acquiring sites that can be used as locations for future social housing.

“The long-term plan is yet to be decided,” he said. “One of the things we are preparing for is when the next provincial government gets elected, where are the new sites that can be used to build the next round of social housing.”

The province is currently halfway through building 14 major social-housing projects on land supplied by the city. But there has been nothing announced in the past few years about what new social housing might be developed after those projects are completed.

Mr. Jang declined to say what price the city paid for the hotel.

A local realtor confirmed that the property just showed up on realtor databases as a sale Oct. 30 for $15.5-million.

There has been considerable chatter about the sale and the city’s possible plans in the community around the hotel, the Renfrew-Collingwood area that is close to the Joyce SkyTrain station in Vancouver’s southeast sector.

A meeting with the city has been organized for Nov. 27 with the Collingwood Neighbourhood House homeless committee, so that people can hear more.

Jennifer Gray-Grant, executive director of the committee, said the community so far doesn’t know a lot about the plans.

“What little I’ve heard back from the community about this has been positive so far,” Ms. Gray-Grant said. People have talked about possibly making welcome kits for those moving into the building.

She said the need for affordable housing in the neighbourhood has been a priority for a long time.

That’s something that Mr. Jang echoed, specifying that the local community had stressed that it needs more senior housing.

“What we’re looking at is housing for seniors or for families.”

Both the city and BC Housing have been trying to figure out recently how to house people from buildings that need to be renovated. BC Housing is about to start fixing up several hotels in the Downtown Eastside that it purchased years ago.

Mr. Jang said that, contrary to some local rumours about the Ramada, it will not be used for anyone from those particular BC Housing-owned hotels as a temporary home while the hotels are being worked on.

He said the seniors who will be moved into the Ramada are likely going to need to be there for two years, which is why the city decided to buy the building outright, rather than just leasing something.

But this doesn’t mean Vancouver is on a program to start buying hotels for affordable housing, he said. It will only acquire sites when the time, price and location seem right, he said.

Vancouver did adopt a Homeless Action Plan in 2005 under then-mayor Larry Campbell that specified the city should try to buy one residential hotel every year, in order to preserve low-cost housing stock in the Downtown Eastside and Granville South.

But it only bought one hotel under that plan, the Granville Residence. That plan has since been replaced by a different one under Mayor Gregor Robertson, which didn’t include those kind of specifics on buying hotels.

Starting in 2007, the province began buying residential hotels in the Downtown Eastside to prevent them from being acquired for development.

This is the first time either level of government has bought a hotel outside the core downtown area for low-cost housing.


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  • jolson


  • Bill Smolick

    Oh this is not going to end well.

  • keith♠

    I notice the City of Vancouver has a property for sale in North Vancouver, on Esplanade near the Seabus and ICBC.
    Perhaps that will pay for the hotel.

  • Kevin

    As a Ren-Col resident, I’m fairly optimistic about the acquisition. Will be interesting to see what happens in the coming months.

  • Joe Just Joe

    Strange that they would buy this when they already own the 2400 down the road that they could use for the same thing. If they plan on housing seniors for ~2yrs that would’ve tied in well with the PEF plan to offload the 2400 in the near term. Guess we’ll have to wait a bit longer to hear the cities vision.
    They also own the old Speedy shop further along Kingsway which they purchased several years ago with big plans that haven’t yet materialized.

  • Bill Lee

    Oh, the old Mr. Sport Hotel.

    The pub has been boarded up for some time.

    This looks like block busting land assembly.
    They close Tyne Street, almagamate the Safeway lot across Tyne and flip to a developer (Holborn and Little Mountain Residences?) to continue the march of neighbouhood busting tower condos along Kingsway.

    And it isn’t that close to skytrain, if that is indeed a feature, but along the Kingway trolley route. About a 15 minute walk to the Joyce station, more if one walks slowly as “seniors” are apt to do.

  • Frances Bula

    @Bill. You’re back!!! Yay. Where did you go? I was about to put out an APB for you.

  • Bill Lee

    And seeing that the Collingwood Cinema (Carleton Theatre, 1929, The Kingsway, Haida (and Haida as porn, Raja as Bollywood) ) opens again nearby, 3215, on Tuesday 13 November, I came across this “map” of the area.
    And so many different once, soon to be made blander with redeveopment.

    Note how most are about 5 metres wide or less, no need to be the behemoths of the West Side.

  • Raingurl

    I bet the seniors that move there will actually be glad to get out of the DTES for awhile. They should probably just stay in their new digs permanently. the advocates that fight for these people to stay in the DTES are starting to really get under my skin.

  • Frank Ducote

    It’s about time decentralization of such city-sponsored housing occurs. This seems like a sound move.

  • Raingurl, I noted in Frances’ story that it’s not for the DTES folks; moreover, Lesli Boldt who has better ties to those in the know than me said on CKNW this morning it’s for seniors who wish to remain in this neighbourhood.

    While I don’t really know what to think about this purchase, I find it a bit odd, especially since the City paid about 37% above the assessed value, (which doesn’t necessarily mean they over paid, but it is quite a premium).

    I was also surprised that Kerry Jang would not disclose the price, even though anyone in the real estate business could easily find out what the City paid! Whenever I buy something for a good price, I like to boast about it. Hmmm

    The one thing I will say is that I do support any initiatives that result in social housing units at a cost below what some of the recent projects on City lands have cost.

    As some architects and developers are saying to one another, some of the latest projects are extremely expensive architectural jewels…eg the one on Main east of OV; and 7th and Fir (although the exterior corridor and lights on this one look a bit nasty at night).

    Why can’t new social housing projects be ‘normalized’, and use more cost effective designs and exterior materials, etc?

    They can be customized on the inside to suit the market, but there’s no need for such elaborate exteriors. And please don’t tell me again it’s because they have to be LEED Gold and must be sustainable. 🙂

    As far as I’m concerned this is a continuation of the approach and attitude that gave us the Swiss yellow glass panels on the OV social housing units…

    not only where they an unecessary waste of money, I’m told they were one of the reasons why at least one non-profit group didn’t want to manage the OV units. Why? Because they worried how they would ever replace these panels if and when necessary in a cost effective way.

    I think the City is to be complimented for some of its recent initiatives to get new social housing as part of new condominium developments….this is a direction worth pursuing, rather than building expensive new units, or buying more motels.

  • Bill Smolick

    The 2400 should be burned to the ground and turned into a condo. That’s prime property in a great location that the city could be collecting property tax revenue on. Instead it sits, doing nothing.

  • Raingurl

    Hello Micheal, You noted it’s not for DTES but I read this…………..

    Both the city and BC Housing have been trying to figure out recently how to house people from buildings that need to be renovated. BC Housing is about to start fixing up several hotels in the Downtown Eastside that it purchased years ago………..

    I also noted (when the hotels were purchased) that the city and BC Housing became prime slum lords of the area.

    So glad to see these hotels will eventually be fixed and maintained properly in the future.

  • teririch

    @Raingurl #13

    Funny, I took the statement in the same manner – that this purchase would involve moving some of the seniors out of the DTES.

    FYI- you might find this of interest: (watch the video)

  • Andrew Browne

    I’m glad I’m not the only one confused about the messaging dissonance between “acquired property to accommodate residents while DTES hotels are reno’d” and “will house local seniors.” Huh?

  • Frank Ducote

    Raingurl, teririch and Andrew – I absolutely agree with the confusion. I first thought this was a decentralization move, which I totally support. Now, not so sure.

    Hello CoV Communication Department (if anybody at the City is reading this stuff) – please clarify for enquiring citizens!!

  • Glissando Remmy

    Thought of The Day

    “Moving the furniture out of the way… is the first thing one does, before vacuuming a room!”

    Overpaying 37% with taxpayers money, establishing a bridge head in DTES towards … gentrification, at the hands of friendly Developers… priceless.

    Some see it as housing advocacy, some see it as a political move, some see it as another Little Mountain Coop renoviction project.
    Now that’s long term… Vision!
    In the Federal Beggar’s city, in the Greenest city, anything goes…

    Or as per Andrea Reimer once said:
    “From the outset, we built (their “legacy”) it to last,” she said. “Greenest City is a like a tree with good, deep roots … at a political level, we’ve made sure it would be painful and hard to rip out. ”

    Figured out that, Aaaaa…wesome!

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  • Terry M

    Glissy, you got that right!
    The road towards unopossed gentrification have been drawn!

  • Everyman

    Why doesn’t the city just buy the derelict Plaza 500 hotel kitty corner to City Hall? Nothing like practising what you preach in terms of having social housing in every neighbourhood!

  • Greetings Bula-bloggers! Get your Ya-Yas out… Residents to March on City Hall TOMORROW noontime:

    When I misread Frances’s headline I took it to mean the Best Western kitty-corner from the 10th Avenue site of the Rize project.

    Slam dunk! Was my thought: the Rize CACs have landed! However, I had it wrong. This Ramada is just a block from the Burnaby border, kitty corner from Central Park.

  • Everyman, I’m told the ‘derelict’ Plaza 500 is being converted into rental apartments. Maybe when the contractor is finished there, he’ll get started on the Ramada! 🙂

  • Ned

    I’m with you Everyman! 500 Plaza looks like a very good location and use for such a needed type of housing. Not only that is close to transit, but it is close to City Hall, so when the time to complain arrives, all they do is… cross the street! 🙂
    And if Vision Vancouver stays in office, there will be lots of crossing.

  • 3 of 4 reviews on Google suggest the plumbing doesn’t work, but the pictures show a facility with a pool and a conference room:

  • Bill Lee

    The Natsy’s are ranting again about social co$t$

    From the National Post
    “Why does the provincial government insist on throwing good money after bad on decrepit buildings? Prod Laquian, a Vancouver-based urban slum and human settlement expert under contract to the United Nations, thinks the government’s primary motivation is to secure title to valuable downtown land. “That’s what they really want, rather than the old buildings on top,” he says. “They figure they can sell the properties later, for a higher price, or pull them down and rebuild later, when they have some more money.”

    Brian Hutchinson: After throwing $84M at slum housing, Vancouver’s spending $128K per room on renovations
    by Brian Hutchinson | Nov 16, 2012 7:27 PM ET | Last Updated: Nov 16, 2012 7:51 PM ET

  • The $76 million spent on floating housing for owelympic security kind of puts it all in perspective for me. (Page 9 – today’s Courier)

  • Westender1

    Interesting – I hadn’t heard about the conversion to rental of the Plaza 500 Hotel. The project sounds similar to the conversion of the Pacific Palisades Hotel on Robson to 230 rental apartments (just some of the hundreds of rental units that have apparently not been created in the West End in the last decade or so). And all of this done without waivers of municipal charges or site-specific increases in density a la STIR and “Rental 100.”

  • Bill Lee

    The Renfrew-Collingwood Community News for January 2013 has a City advert for an “Information Session” [ hmm, doublespeak ] for “non-market housing on Kingsway”
    123 units in the Ramada from the Old Continental (See 1390 Granville street for the old 1911 hotel) the Ramada to be renamed the Kingsway Continental.
    “Information Session” on Thurday 10 January 2013, 6-8 pm at Collingwood Neighbourhood House 5288 Joyce Street.