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Developer Ian Gillespie: “This is going to sound arrogant but no one else is willing to do what I’m doing”

March 30th, 2014 · 93 Comments

Developer Ian Gillespie is much in the news these days. He launched his Gesamtkunstwerk exhibit a week ago as part of the build-up to Vancouver House, the Bjarke Ingels-designed tower that will be blooming flower-like (thin stalk, showy bee-attracting thing on top) next to the Granville Bridge.

Here’s a recent feature I did on him in Vancouver magazine. In advance of your comments, I notice Gillespie seems to draw a lot more negative comments than any other developer I write about. I’ve done profiles of Peter Wall and the Malek brothers at Millennium, mentioned people like Terry Hui at Concord and Andrew Grant at PCI and Michael Audain at Polygon in stories any number of times, and never seen as much vitriol directed at them as at Gillespie.  (Interestingly, others in the development community seem to be at least as annoyed by him as many resident groups.)

I’m guessing it’s because he tends to wade in to contentious parts of town, attracting more attention. (Some development companies I report on simply never ask for rezonings — they just don’t want to deal with the hassle. They stick strictly to land that’s already zoned for what they want to build.) And because he makes claims about the worthwhile social mission he wants to carry out in some of them — Woodward’s, 60 West Cordova, 1401 Comox —  again unlike other developers who simply build their buildings and move along.  And he antagonizes developers by saying some of the things he does in my feature.

(And, on the social mission front, I worked with UBC journalism student Ian Holliday recently, who produced this story on 60 West Cordova.)

I think some of you commenters may say it’s because he appears to be so favoured by Vision, because he gives money to them. For my story, I went back and looked at the record.  And strangely, Gillespie gives very little — about $12,000, which is probably less than his Christmas-light bill. Unless I’m missing a numbered company somewhere, these are the general totals: Walls gave 110,000 through various companies; Reliance gave 26,000, Bastion gave 21,000, Concord gave 36,250, Westbank gave 11,700.

Anyway, I’m sure you all won’t hold back in your assessments of his impact on the city.


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