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Yale Hotel, 1300 Granville St

Yale Hotel owner strikes heritage deal with city

Tentative agreement includes bonus density and the retention of low-income housing

Glen Korstrom
Business in Vancouver
January 22-28, 2008

Will Lin’s dream to replace Vancouver’s aging Cecil Hotel with a 25-storey residential tower while upgrading the adjacent historic Yale Hotel is inching closer to reality.

The Rize Alliance Properties owner, who bought the Yale Hotel for approximately $10 million in mid-2006 and the Cecil Hotel for “millions” of dollars soon afterward, has reached a tentative agreement with City of Vancouver planners for his 20,000-square-foot Granville Street site at the north end of the Granville Bridge.

“The deal now is that we have a report to council as a major project coming down the pike, and it’s going to be seeking council approval soon,” said Lin. “There’s a heritage revitalization agreement involved where we would upgrade and retain the Yale Hotel and the commercial space, the Yale pub. It will be designated a heritage building when completed.”

Lin’s tentative agreement with city staff requires that he retain and upgrade 44 subsidized housing rooms at the Yale that have single-room occupancy (SRO) zoning. Lin will give those rooms to the city when his proposed project is complete. In exchange, he expects the city to allow him to build a 165,000-square-foot tower. Current density rules provide for a maximum 100,000-square-foot tower.

Lin presented his case to a City of Vancouver urban design panel on December 19, and that panel urged Lin to redesign his tower to be a taller and more slender 255 to 260 feet tall instead of its originally proposed 225-foot height.

Lin must get city approval to change the site’s zoning from “downtown district” to “comprehensive development.” He fears delays from the city’s backlogged rezoning department could scuttle the project.

see Cecil Hotel



Vancouver blues club closes for $1.5M makeover
CBC News Nov 19, 2011
A Vancouver music institution is closing temporarily for a major renovation that resulted from a unique development deal.
The 130-year-old Yale Hotel closes on Sunday night for a $1.5-million makeover that’s scheduled to last for 18 months.
The heritage building at the corner of Granville and Drake was built by Canadian Pacific Railway to house its single male workers. It became a beer parlour and then a blues club in 1985, hosting local and international acts.
Instead of selling the aging club, owner Waide Luciak and the developer next door, Rize Property Alliance, struck a deal known as a density exchange.
The developer bought the Yale and is paying for safety upgrades, seismic upgrading, soundproofing and other necessary work. There are plans for more windows facing the street, new floors and carpets and a new stage.
When the renovations are complete, Rize will sell the club back to Luciak for the original price. In exchange, the developer gets to build its neighbouring condo development 10 stories higher.
"So it's a win-win where the people of Vancouver win. We get to keep the old beautiful building forever, update it. And then the music will stay in that we can then afford to stay,” said Luciak.
Musician Tim Vaughn is pleased the Yale will get a new lease on life: "It is the best blues bar in the country, bar none."

Image source: City of Vancouver archives - Circa 1944

VPL#39863. Granville street during the construction of the Granville Street Bridge, 1954.
Note the old Yale neon sign.


Description of Historic Place
The Yale Hotel is a three-storey Second Empire-style building, located at the corner of Granville and Drake Streets. The building is located at the north foot of the Granville Street Bridge at the entrance of the Granville street commercial district, and is distinguished by its bellcast mansard roof, gabled dormer windows, and round arched windows.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Yale Hotel lies in its historical, associative, and architectural significance.

The Yale Hotel is significant as one of the oldest surviving buildings in Vancouver and for its association with the development of Yaletown. Construction of the building began in 1888 and was completed in 1889. Constructed as the Colonial Hotel, it was among a very small number of structures to be built on Granville Street during Vancouver's formative years. Yaletown was the working class neighbourhood populated by workers who moved to Vancouver in the 1880s to service and build the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). The Colonial Hotel provided low-priced accommodation for CPR workers and became known as the centre of the notorious Yaletown nightlife. The hotel was also built in association with the construction of the first Granville Street Bridge in 1889, and served travellers between Vancouver and Richmond.

The associative value of the Yale Hotel lies in its construction by its original owner, real estate developer James Wellington Horne (1853-1923), who owned more land in the downtown area than any single other person, second only to the CPR. By 1890, only four years after his arrival in Vancouver, Horne had built major brick blocks on most of Vancouver's principal streets. Horne held public office in 1888-90 as a city alderman, and from 1890 to 1894 held a seat in the provincial legislature.

The Yale Hotel is additionally valued for its handsome Second Empire architecture, designed by Noble Stonestreet Hoffar (1843-1907). One of Vancouver’s first architects, Hoffar made a considerable contribution to the evolution of the city between 1886 and the mid 1890s with his design and construction of many of the city's largest and most substantial structures. The Yale Hotel is a simplified example of Second Empire architecture, which typifies the increasingly elaborate and monumental appearance of architecture towards the end of the nineteenth century. In Eastern Canada and the United States, the mansard roof was closely associated with hotel accommodation; as Hoffar was American-born, he would have been familiar with the popular styles in Eastern Canada and the United States. The hotel is also associated with architect W.T. Whiteway (1856-1940), who was commissioned to design the addition to the east in 1909. Whiteway arrived in Vancouver at the time of the Great Fire and worked in Vancouver from 1886-1887, then followed other building booms in the United States and Canada before returning to Vancouver, where he became one of the leading local architects.

Source: City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program

Character-Defining Elements
Key elements that define the Yale Hotel’s Second Empire architectural design include its:

- construction to the front and side property lines with no setback
- form, scale and massing, as expressed by its three-storey height, cubic shape, and four-storey, irregular plan of the rear addition
- Second Empire style detailing, including its mansard roof with a series of gabled dormers
- masonry construction of the original hotel, with a rubblestone foundation and polychromatic red brick cladding with yellow brick detailing (quoining, arched window crowns and patterned brickwork around the entire building at the cornice)
- masonry construction of the rear addition, with a scored concrete foundation and rough-dressed sandstone window sills
- regular and symmetrical fenestration of the original section, with round-headed windows and projecting window hoods
- regular and asymmetrical fenestration of the rear addition, including some original 1-over-1 double hung wooden sash windows and first storey side elevation windows with transoms, and transoms over the rear fire escape doors

info from the Yale's website, www.yalehotel.ca

The Yale Hotel began in the mid 1880's as a CPR bunkhouse where workers relaxed after clearing land for the new community of Vancouver. On June 13, 1886 an unusually strong blast of wind set fire raging through the city. In less than 45 minutes 1,000 wooden structures were destroyed. The Yale, separated by bush from the main area of Vancouver, was one of the few that survived.

Soon after that dramatic event, the Yale became a popular gathering place for the community. The building was refurbished and by 1889 was renamed the Colonial Hotel. It served miners, loggers, fishermen and CPR workers who trudged up an Indian trail in the woods from False Creek. There was a stable below the street level for the occasional carriage trade.

By night, the hotel became a haunt for the workers and their friends. Yaletown had a reputation for wild nightlife, and the activity at the Colonial was supposedly the wildest. The hotel was named the Yale again in 1911.

Meanwhile, deep in the southern United States, the black culture gave birth to the blues. Rhythm and blues is perceived in many ways. Sometimes glamorous, sometimes heart-wrenching, the blues wound its way through the history of America and emerged as a Canadian tradition at the Yale.

Today, after more than two decades of this tradition, the Yale is the focal point for rhythm and blues in Western Canada. The icons of traditional blues, as well as new talent, come by to play and jam. Pop stars and screen personalities frequent the Yale to hear their R&B idols. As well, the Yale recently built its own precision engineered recording studio. In the basement, where stable boys used to groom the horses, the Yale today records live performances to promote up-and-coming local blues players and to raise funds for charities.

Hundreds of legendary blues performers have graced the stage at the Yale. Here is a small sample, selected by staff as their top twenty all-time favourites:
John Lee Hooker, Clarence 'Gatemouth' Brown, Shemekia, Jeff Healey, Jim Byrnes, Buddy Miles, Long John Baldry, John Hammond, Pinetop Perkins, Gatemouth Brown, Powder Blues, Canned Heat, Maria Muldour, James Cotton, Eddy Clearwater, Koko Taylor, Charlie Musselwhite, Honeyboy Edwards, Chambers Brothers, Downchild Blues Band

Some other names of note who have played or jammed at the Yale:
John Candy, Supertramp, Jimmy Page, Tommy Chong, Colin James, Big Brother and the Holding Company, George Thorogood, Lee Aaron, Jim Belushi, John Savage, The Tea Party, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Brian Adams, Burton Cummings, Buckwheat Zydeco, Savoy Brown

And then there's the stars who come by to hang out and listen:
Otis Rush, Amanda Marshall, Sheryl Crow, U2, Glen Fry (Eagles), Steve Winwood, Paul Schaffer (Letterman), Patrick Swayze, Rebecca De Mornay, Leonard Skynard Band

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All photos copyright © Christian Dahlberg except where stated otherwise. All rights reserved.
Vancouver panorama photo © Vancouver Lookout. www.vancouverlookout.com