of Vancouver buys Drake Hotel for $3.2 million as social-housing
Friday, June 22, 2007
strippers have been hustled offstage, the last glass
of draught has been drawn and the 24 tiny hotel rooms
that sat empty for several years are being renovated
for some of Vancouver's lowest-income residents.
City of Vancouver announced yesterday it has bought
the Drake Hotel -- the longtime Powell Street bar known
best for its exotic entertainers -- for $3.2 million.
housing planner Jill Davidson said an undetermined but
modest amount will be spent renovating the rooms, which
could be available for those on social housing by year's
will be solicited from parties interested in redeveloping
the hotel's pub area.
Sam Sullivan said the purchase is part of his Civil
City initiative, aimed in part at providing hard-to-house
citizens with supportive rentals. The initiative's goal
is a reduction of homelessness by at least 50 per cent
Housing Minister Rich Coleman, who was present for the
announcement, said B.C. will eventually partner with
the city in providing the programs that residents need
-- and, possibly, in eventual redevelopment of the site.
agreed that a chief attraction of the property was its
massive parking lot -- big enough, they noted, for another
building or to allow the Drake to eventually be razed
and replaced with something larger that might include
market housing to subsidize low-income units.
used the occasion to plug the province's recent purchase
of 10 downtown hotels for low-income renters -- although
he conceded the purchase did more to protect existing
housing than create new beds.
purchases provided a "backstop" while further housing
units are built, Coleman said.
Raymond Louie, generally a sharp critic of the mayor's,
called the Drake purchase "a good, positive investment
about making sure that our citizens' taxes are spent
wisely," he said. "This was a good deal."
Louie also said the purchase represented only a first
step toward replacing the 800 housing units that the
watchdog Impact of the Olympics on Community Coalition
says have disappeared from the Downtown Eastside since