Frances Bula header image 2

News of Waldorf Hotel closure sparks a small neutron bomb of outrage, anger, sadness, uncertainty

January 9th, 2013 · 49 Comments

There are still lots of twists and turns in this story of the current operators of the Waldorf Hotel announcing they are no longer in business as of Jan. 20. I captured a small part of it in the Globe final story today. But there’s much more and more to come.

While the meme has boiled down to “condo development drives out funky arts venue and despairing Vancouverites flood Tahrir Square to protest,” a few things to be noted:

– the hotel’s current owner, who still legally controls the building until September, says the hotel and its bars, restaurant, etc., will stay open, according to what Charlie Smith and the Georgia Straight are reporting. Presumably, however, it won’t have any of the creativity the current owners bring.

– the developer, Solterra Group of Companies, does not get control of the building until September. I hear from some sources that Solterra was itself blindsided by what looks like a breakdown of talks between the current owner and the Waldorf operating partners

– everyone has gone crazy, with at least one petition out there demanding that city council deny any rezoning and Solterra’s Facebook site filling up with hate messages

– the land is zoned industrial and CANNOT have condos built on it without a rezoning, which means public hearing, council approval, etc.

– although the Wall property at 955 East Hastings five blocks away was zoned industrial and had to be rezoned to allow condos — which Mainlander/COPE critics are saying has led to condo speculation with the Waldorf property — the Millennium site across the street from the Waldorf does not require a rezoning. It will have 101 condos over retail, which is allowed within the zoning. My understanding is that the Canadian Tire site across from the Waldorf, bought by PCI, is going to be a commercial/industrial development, not condos.

– one could argue that the real gentrifying forces in the area are Gourmet Warehouse, right across from the Waldorf, and Les Amis du Fromage, a few blocks west — two yuppie food places that have brought new people to what some see as a dismal stretch of Hastings.

– yes, Solterra bought a table at the pre-election Vision fundraiser — as did some arts groups

– the hotel operators financial situation seems a bit murky. They sank a lot of sweat equity and money into a huge reno of the building, but didn’t get any tenant-improvement money from the landlord, as is usual. Then they couldn’t pay their rent for several months at some point, yet they seemed to be giving at least one gallery space rent free. They asked the landlord if they could not pay for a while, which later made them vulnerable to the landlord demanding to break their 15-year lease.

Categories: Uncategorized