West End landmark's days are numbered

West End landmark's days are numbered


The southern view from Cloud 9, a revolving restaurant at the top of the Empire Landmark Hotel in the West End. LES BAZSO /VANCOUVER SUN


If you want to be on Cloud 9, you only have until Sept. 30.

That is the last day for the revolving restaurant on the 42nd floor of the Empire Landmark Hotel, which is slated to come down for a new condo development.

Initially, the plan for the block-long site at 1400 Robson was for two towers, one 28 stories, the other 30. The design by Musson Cattel Mackey architects was for a mixed-use project with 223 market condos, 57 social housing units and two floors of offices and retail at ground level.

But the plan has been revised, and it’s bigger.

The towers will now be 31 and 32 storeys, and there will be 237 market condos, 63 social housing units, with retail and office on the bottom three floors. The height of the buildings will be 299.5 feet, which is about 25 per cent lower than the existing structure.

A development application goes to the city’s permit board on June 12 at 3 p.m.

The Empire Landmark hotel in 1975, when it was the Sheraton Landmark. DENI EAGLAND / PNG

The 357-room hotel at 1400 Robson was built in 1973 as a Sheraton, and has been the Empire Landmark since 1997. The tall, slender tower is in the middle of the site, while the new towers would be at either end.

The Empire Landmark is an example of the brutalist style of architecture popular in the early 1970s, with its exposed cement exterior. The buildings that would replace it will be light, airy glass towers.

The site is owned by 1488 Robson Holdings Ltd., whose directors have the same address as the Hong Kong-based Asia Standard Hotel Group.

Property records showed it sold in April, 2016 for $46.5 million. It has had Hong Kong-based owners since 1997.

The downtown peninsula is in the midst of a real estate frenzy, as developers try to snap up sites for new luxury towers. The old Chevron station at 1698 West Georgia, for example, recently sold for $72 million.

The redevelopments have come in the wake of the city’s new West End community plan, which raised the heights up to 550 feet in certain areas.

“It’s the new gold rush,” said heritage expert Don Luxton. “There’s increasing pressure on the West End, because Downtown South is very close to built out.”

Luxton lives in Anchor Point, a large complex at Burrard and Pacific that includes three residential towers and 477 units. Technically, it is outside the West End (which is across the street), but developers have been circling the site for a couple of years.

Several real estate brokers have made submissions to Anchor Point’s strata councils to represent them in negotiations with developers, including Eugen Klein of Royal Lepage.

“Two acres hasn’t gone to market in the downtown core in Vancouver in a very long time,” said Klein.

Klein said it is hard to say how much the site is worth because there are a lot of factors involved, such as whether the city would want social or rental housing in a redevelopment.

“I would be guessing, (but) today, $600 a buildable (square foot) is in the range of what’s going on,” he said.

A fourth building at Anchor Point is commercial, and sold for $47.5 million in 2011.


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