Emery Barnes Park has appeared slowly over the past decade filling almost an entire city block between Seymour and Richards in Downtown South. It’s wildly popular too; the buildings that used to sit on the block have already faded from memory. This was an Indian restaurant in what was otherwise an area of small commercial buildings and some left over light industrial premises. The ‘before’ picture was taken in 2001 when One Wall Centre was being completed way off in the distance.
Brava, by Hewitt + Kwasnicky is the tower in the background today. It’s one of a pair of towers that were allowed extra height in exchange for providing a home for the Vancouver International Film Festival and their intimate cinema showing films that might otherwise never be seen in Vancouver. The first phase of the park was designed by Stevenson + Associates, and was completed in 2003, several years before Brava was built.
Here are the buildings a bit further north up Richards Street, again in 2001. Developers of anything except non-market housing or long-term guaranteed rental pay a Development Cost Levy of several dollars for every square foot of new building. That gets saved over the years and then allocated to providing some of the facilities needed by the new community, including parks. That’s how Emery Barnes Park was paid for – the park itself wasn’t outrageously expensive, but the land cost many millions.
The second phase was completed in 2011, designed by Jonathan Losee Ltd. Here’s the third and final phase, that went in along Seymour Street and took an additional year to build. Like the first phase the buildings that it replaced were small, in this case an old gas station that later in life became a drive-through dry cleaners (seen here in 2010)
before image 2001 and 2010; after images 2009 and 2013