Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mike Howell

p. 9.

Developers peel off another layer of old Granville

Sweet note for historic blues bar, strippers getting boot

The Yale Hotel will get a makeover and its neighbour, the Cecil Hotel and its strip club, will be demolished as part of a redevelopment plan for Granville Street.

The Yale, located at the north end of the Granville Bridge, is on the city's heritage list and the premier blues pub in the city. The Cecil is home to one of Vancouver's few remaining strip clubs.

The Yale will be refurbished but the Cecil Hotel is coming down to make way for a 23-storey residential tower. PHOTO: Dan Toulgoet
 The Yale will be refurbished but the Cecil Hotel is coming down to make way for a 23-storey residential tower.
 PHOTO: Dan Toulgoet

Before the project goes ahead, there's a lot of paperwork that developer Rize Alliance Properties Ltd. has to work out with the city.

Tomorrow, council will review a rezoning application from Rize Alliance, which hopes to complete the project by 2010. The main component of the plan is the construction of a 23-storey residential tower in place of the Cecil.

The project will displace more than 100 low-income tenants in both hotels. The Cecil has 82 rooms — 50 of which qualify as single-room accommodation. The Yale's 44 rooms all qualify under that category.

Mark Shieh, development manager with Rize, said the company hired an advocate to help find Cecil tenants a place to live. The new tower will not offer social housing.

The advocate will also work with tenants of the Yale during the renovations to ensure they find accommodation and receive priority on returning to the refurnished rooms.

Once the Yale's 260-seat pub and building is restored, ownership of the two upper floors, which contains the 44 rooms, will be turned over to the city.

"Once the rooms are in the public hands, then the city determines its management, its fate for perpetuity," said Shieh, adding that annual rental income for the Yale is roughly $200,000. "So that [money] could go and fund other social housing initiatives in the city."

Shieh said the new tower will have a restaurant and pub on its main floor, or "commercial podium." The pub will not feature strippers, he said, noting Rize is not in that line of business and exotic dancers don't fit into the city's plans for redesigning the neighbourhood.

"The exotic dancing is probably not such an appropriate business for a residential neighbourhood," Shieh said.

The architecture firm of Busby Perkins and Will is designing the project, which aims to incorporate Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design principles.

Shieh described the project as a "triple bottom line development," where social housing, environmental design and profit are encompassed.

The project fits in with the city's plans to redevelop the land and properties under the north end of the Granville Bridge, said Karen Hoese, a city planner involved in the Yale/Cecil project.

The city's plan calls for a commercial centre that includes a small grocery store, drug store and other stores, possibly a restaurant, and offices or retail on the upper storeys of buildings.

The development will be modest in scale, with buildings ranging from one to four storeys, according to the city's Neighbourhood Commercial Centre plan.

© Vancouver Courier 2008

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