The east side of the 800-block of Granville Street in downtown Vancouver could see a massive transformation if a developer’s new proposal moves ahead.
Bonnis Properties plans to preserve the city’s past, including some historic landmarks, while taking it into the 21st century.
“Our concern was how can we do something to really take Granville Street to another level? How can we increase jobs and economy space?” Kerry Bonnis said.
The block is home to the Commodore Ballroom, Commodore Lanes and the Orpheum Theatre.
The proposed development includes a new office tower, restaurants and retail spaces and would form a kind of bridge over those three iconic buildings while keeping them intact and enhancing their functionality.
“As opposed to being a tower, which stands very tall, what we’ve done is we’ve taken that tower and we’ve placed it across the entire block,” said Ryan Bragg with the architecture firm Perkins & Will.
“It starts at a lower height at the south end of the street and then rises to the north to what is really the start of the central business district.”
The tower would slope from 17 stories near Robson Street down to nine stories above The Orpheum, providing nearly 400,000 square feet of office space — enough room for more than 2,500 workers. There would be expanded cultural space as well.
“Really, what we see the project doing is creating a renaissance within Granville Street,” Bragg said.
“Granville Street has suffered over the years, and really needs a catalyst for redevelopment and a catalyst to take us out of the pandemic.”
It’s projected the development could increase attendance by 23 per cent with upwards of 73,000 attendees per year at The Orpheum.
As for the Commodore, attendance could go up by more than 40 per cent, or another 75,000 attendees per year.
“We’re going to really establish this part of town as the cultural hub, which is really an intense and massive benefit to us Vancouverites,” Bonnis said.
“It’s wise for us to take the city in that direction versus how it has been lately, which is dangerous.”
Said Charles Gauthier, president and CEO of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association: “I think it’s a win-win all around and a great gift to the city if it does proceed in terms of helping the arts and cultural centres.”
The developer has been acquiring properties on the block since the early 2000s, but it could still be some time before shovels are in the ground.
A formal application will be submitted to the city in the coming months. The hope is to secure approval sometime in 2021.