999 Seymour Street

999 Seymour ba

For as long as we can remember this site was a surface parking lot on the corner of Seymour and Nelson. There were once modest commercial buildings here, and before that, a century ago, houses.

Acton Ostry’s 22 storey office and condo tower for Townline complete development of the block on Seymour, and add some colour into the neighbourhood.

Before image 2008, After image 2014


The Rolston

Rolston 1

Rolston is a 22 storey residential tower built between Granville Street and Rolston Crescent, a street that will eventually form part of a new street system where the Granville Street loops currently exist. The design emerged over a number of years and with the involvement of several different architectural companies – initially the Vancouver office of HOK, then Busby Perkins and Will and more recently IBI/HB. As part of the scheme the Yale Hotel, which has been around since 1889, was given a total restoration, with the City Of Vancouver responsible for finding an operator to run the restored SRO hotel upstairs.

Rolston 2

The main part of the tower – which will have a retail or restaurant use on the main floor – replaced the Cecil Hotel, a 1909 building whose architect seems to be unidentified. The building was re-worked when the 1954 version of the Granville Street Bridge (the one there today) left the main floor of the hotel with no way of having a doorway from the Granville Street frontage. Having been a hangout for some of the city’s thinkers (those who combined that activity as beer drinkers) in the early 1970s, the bar became more focussed on strip shows, becoming one of the last stripper bars in the Downtown until its closure.

Before images: 2010, after images 2013

The Mark (and Karis Place)

Karis & Mark

We’ve seen Karis Place looking from the north. Here it is from the south, with the lower part of The Mark, a 41 storey tower that’s just reaching completion in the foreground. The tower has a substantial eight storey podium with a childcare included to justify an increased tower height and density.

As we’ve noted before, most of Downtown South was unremarkable one and two storey commercial buildings – and this site was no exception. What marked it out was the presence of Sundance Trampolines, who had a mural and trampoline on the roof of their building parallel with the deck of the Seymour Street offramp from the Granville Bridge.

Before image 2008; after image 2013

Emery Barnes Park

Emery Barnes 1

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.

Emery Barnes 2

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.

Emery Barnes 3

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

The Standard

The Standard 1

The Standard is the first project completed under the City of Vancouver’s STIR program (Short Term Incentive for Rental). It’s a 10-storey building with 106 units over retail at 1138 Granville Street, completed in mid 2012. It was designed by Chris Dikeakos for Blue Sky Properties (a Bosa offshoot). It was built on a site that was surface parking for many years.

before images July 2010: after images April 2013

The Standard 2



Richards (the 231 unit condo project) replaced Richards on Richards (the club) and Madame Cleo’s (the ‘massage parlour’) with another Downtown South tower – and a shorter one because of the viewcone over the site. The houses were saved by lining them up on Helmcken Street. (Very) long time resident Linda Rupa held out for several years until the offer on the house she paid $16,000 for was $6m. As it sat in the middle of the assembly, without the house there was no development site.

before image 2003: after image 2012

Karis Place

Karis Place

Karis Place is another new non-market housing project completed in 2011. This one is in Downtown South, next to the Granville Street off-ramp (and the 40+ storey tower ‘The Mark’ has been built).

Karis Place, like the Pacific Coast Apartments and The Lux on Pender Street pre dates the ’12 sites’ agreement with BC Housing; so is in addition to those projects, and similarly built on land provided by the City of Vancouver. Like the 2009 Kindred Place to the south it was designed by Neale Staniszkis Doll Adams and is managed by the Mennonite Housing Society. It’s built to LEED Gold standard, and has a geothermal heating system (which caused a few problems for the underpinning of The Mark’s underground parking).

before image 2008: after image 2011