This is a followup to my May 28 post regarding the possible placement of stations for the Broadway SkyTrain tunnel and, like the increased buying and selling of real estate along the proposed tunnel route, it’s little more than pure speculation.
To recap what we know. A November 2015 article on the Georgia Straight website explains that the City of Vancouver wants one station at Cambie Street and for this purpose has chosen the Crossroads building at 525 West Broadway (kitty-corner from the City Hall Canada Line Station on the southeast corner of West Broadway and Cambie Street).
Indeed, the city appears to have chosen this location eight or nine years ago, when the Crossroads building was on the drawing boards. It’s been said, by a self-confessed former employee of the below-ground Whole Foods location at Crossroads, that the store boasts a gargantuan, underground concrete storage room, which staff refer to as the “Subway Room”.
The same article informs us that the city originally made arrangements with Bosa Properties, the company redeveloping the former strip mall at 988 West Broadway, to locate a similar subway station space underneath the new 10-storey office/retail tower planned for the site. However, three months later, another report, in February of 2016, quoted a Bosa executive as saying that those plans had been cancelled.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that there won’t be a “Broadway Line” station at West Broadway and Oak Street.
In January of 2014, the single-storey Bank of Nova Scotia building on the southwest corner of the intersection, at 1004 West Broadway, sold for an undisclosed amount. The online VanMap shows that it’s the City of Vancouver that now owns the 1920-built property, which is currently assessed at $5.8 nillion. (see the May 28 post for instructions on using VanMap to see city-owned properties.)
The Georgia Straight article further lists a third location identified by the city as a site for a future Broadway subway station–the Pinnacle Living (on Broadway) condo, located at 2080 West Broadway.
This condo was finished in 2012 but already in early 2010 it was a discussion point among savvy followers of the Vancouver development scene, on the Skyscraper.com forum, that the plans included a possible SkyTrain station:
“Pinnacle’s “Broadway” development at Maple/Broadway has a provision for a skytrain/rapid transit station on the western part of the site (next to the CPR tracks). The remaining land between the tracks at Arbutus could become any number of things.”
Until real journalism put the brakes on my groundless musings about the exact location of the Arbutus Street terminus for the proposed Broadway SkyTrain extension, I was looking at the relative merits of the four corner properties at the intersection of West Broadway Avenue and Arbutus Street.
Most existing SkyTrain stations are located on corners and are large freestanding structures. So I naturally assumed that planners would likewise want to end the Broadway subway tunnel with a bang-up above ground station on a corner of West Broadway and Arbutus.
Right off the bat I knew that the Shell gas station at 2103 West Broadway, on the northwest corner, was out of the question. Aside from the fact that, at $22,884,700, it had the highest property assessment of the four corners, gas stations take years to decommission, what with soil remediation and all.
Continuing counter-clockwise, the southwest corner, at 2112 W Broadway, had the second-highest assessment, at $17,455,700. Fletchers Fabricare, on the southeast corner at 2096 W Broadway, had the lowest assessment, at $9,327,100 but was something of an institution having been at the location for decades.
That left the building at 2097 West Broadway, on the northeast corner, which was assessed for a modest $9,334,400. What’s more,while the building was occupied by mobile providers Rogers and Fido, it was actually owned by the City of Vancouver. And the unimproved lots directly behind the building. on Arbutus were also owned by the city.
So I figured that was that. The northeast corner was a shoo-in for the location of a station at the Arbutus end of the Broadway tunnel. It was nearly the least expensive and certainly the least encumbered.
Of course, I figured all wrong. Read more…
Friday, May 27, I photographed another instance of a Google Maps Street View car roaming the streets of Vancouver. This time it was just before 1 p.m. and the distinctively-marked little Subaru Impreza was stopped in a westbound lane of West Broadway Avenue at the intersection with South Granville Street.
Yesterday, the same car passed me, heading west on West Broadway. There was a very light mist of rain in the air and whether for that reason or not, a close-fitting cover had been placed over the mast-mounted panoramic camera. Read more…
Chatting Tuesday. May 24, with a condo owner who lives in the 3200 block of Heather Street, I leaned a few things.
I learned that the old apartment building up for sale at 711 West 17th Avenue, that I wrote about in March, may have been sold. I learned that the 17 rather singular two-storey duplexes in the 900 block between 18th and 19th Avenue definitely have been sold (for over 40 million dollars) and I learned that when money talks, it can sound awfully mean-spirited.
This condo owner I spoke to was a bona fide voice of real estate development and he didn’t give a fig about old buildings like those duplexes. He described them as looking like “welfare houses” and frankly hoped that they’d be torn down and redeveloped.
It’s true that they do look a little social housing. Unlike the surrounding residential buildings, which—whether multi-unit or single family—all have the fencing or hedging that says private property, these duplexes, built between 1954 and 1955, are dead plain and have no fenced-in yards.
Instead they’re arranged, side-by-side, on open lots, in two parallel rows, with nine duplexes facing 18th Avenue and eight facing 19th Avenue. Between and behind them, like a public housing estate, they share one giant backyard.
This grass-covered area is essentially a huge boulevard between two single-lane roads. This means that cars and service vehicles can easily get through the middle of the block but drivers can’t just speed straight through from the previous block’s ally. This makes the big playground between the duplexes that much safer for children. Read more…
What happened was this. At exactly 10 a.m., Monday, May 23, I was watching a young brown squirrel climb—apparently for the heck of it—all the way to the top of a wooden utility pole. This, by the way, was in a lane on the east side of Heather Street, just south of 16th Avenue. Read more…
Crews employed by Telus are currently sweeping through the back alleys of Vancouver—their five year mission—to boldly string up reams of fibre optic cable, to carry the next generation of high-speed Internet and TV into the next generation of rental and condominium highrises.
Look up in almost any Fairview neighbourhood alley and you’ll see the black-sheathed fibre optic cable that Telus crews have attached along the line of B.C. Hydro wooden utility poles, just below the power lines.
And if you look down at the pavement, under the newly-installed cable, you may find curious and potentially useful remnants of the installation process, in the form of small, highly-engineered pieces of shiny black plastic, embedded with bits of metal and minutely embossed with the legend “T&B”.
If you are at all inclined to repair things then I recommend that you pick up any of them that you find. Read more…