Changes On the Drive #64

When I left the house this morning, I was sure there was snow in the air, and it really felt like December. However, after a great breakfast at Skylight, and a decent walk down the Drive, it had improved to a regular fall day. Very pleasant.

Starting as usual at the south end of my range, Kingdom Beauty Supplies is operating at 2277 Commercial, but still with a very large “For Lease” sign in the window.  2245 is still vacant (26 months), as is 2240 (16 months), but the latter storefront continues to sport a “Leased” sign.

Today is the one year anniversary party for Cabrito at 2270 Commercial. They will be having a party later today.

What used to be Dr. Chan’s dental office at 2085 is now Dr. Dhir’s East Van Dental. The place looks as if it has been cleaned up and refurbished.



Across the street at 2064, the Rub-a-Dub Convenience Store seems to have bitten the dust, the store windows papered over.



At 1850 Commercial, the Blue Copper Capital Corporation’s pay-day loan office is now open.

Across the street, the building that houses the Salonika Restaurant seems to be having some serious work done on its roof. Not sure of the details.



The former Solaris tanning salon at 1740 Commercial is still vacant (2 months). Over the road, Catz Hair Salon at 1735 has announced they will be moving to somewhere else on the Drive in February next year.



Another move is apparently underway at Cassia Cupcakery. They have closed their shop at 1706 Commercial, and the notice on the door says they will eventually be moving to 1706 E. 1st.



The Libra Room at 1608 Commercial is still closed after 4 months. The closure is now “until further notice” according their website. It used to say “until end of October.”

One of the joys of the Drive at this time of year is the smell of the fresh Christmas trees at Home Hardware. Both my eyes and my nose noticed with pleasure they were back this morning.

The Roma on the corner of Grant is closed, papered over. They had a major issue with sewage backup according to a chap I spoke to their a week or so ago. It ruined their floor and much else. The contractor didn’t think the re-opening would be soon.

1412 Commercial is still vacant or at least the Pagoda is papered over (4 months), and 1303 is still vacant (2 months). So too is 1370 now that Bikes on the Drive have moved to East Hastings (1 month).



1303 (2 months), 1280 (8 months), and 1104 Commercial (31 months), along with 1704 Charles (5 months) are all still vacant.  With regard to the old Urban Empire store at 1104 Commercial, I am advised that somebody wanted to rent it but the agent has not returned calls for two months. Wonder what’s going on there?

The Heritage designation for the old Florida building at 1102 has been approved. That means the apartment development in the back lot should begin soon.

Choices seems finally to have been moving quickly to get their expansion into 1035 underway. I saw shopfitters putting in new racks and equipment this morning.  The Choices banner now shows across the entire space. 1035 has been vacant for 19 months.

Across the Drive, there is better news. At 1044, Rabbit and Empee have decided to accept a new lease and are staying, which is very welcome.

Finally, at the northern end, Nonna’s at 952 is still closed (3 months) and 902 is still vacant (19 months).


Previous Changes on The Drive editions


6 Responses to Changes On the Drive #64

  1. pennystreet546 says:

    Bikes on the Drive will be reopening in the big ground floor space in the Boheme building across from the Waldorf… I wonder if they’ll change their name?

    • Drive flaneur says:

      Same name, longer store but only about 10 metres wide.
      Rest of the Le Boheme retail space still empty.
      There are calling 1592 East Hastings is being given, on their website, as a “temporary locaiton”.

      I haven’t been by yet to see what is up.

  2. pennystreet546 says:

    The Cupcakery is moving right around the corner to 1st Avenue, to that storefront that was a really sweet baby clothes store for a while. Because they will no longer be ON the Drive, I hope they don’t suffer too much. It’s hard on businesses to be around the corner. For example, that variety store where Little Nest used to be. Off the beaten track.

  3. HJS says:

    Robin at the pharmacy indicated he’s trying to buy the lease out since he couldn’t attract any doctors to work in the medical clinic that was part of the planned expansion/move of the space.

  4. Drive flaneur says:

    Over long, but some might miss the Sun article
    Wonderbucks, a Commercial Drive institution, closing due to high rent | Vancouver Sun

    Skyrocketing rent forces closure of Commercial Drive institution.
    by Cheryl Chan

    Published on: December 2, 2016 | Last Updated: December 2, 2016 3:42 PM PST
    [ PHOTO Wonderbucks has been a much-loved fixture on The Drive since it opened 18 years ago, but with rent for the space doubling from what it was five years ago, owner Bernie Moschenross said he can no longer make a go of it. Rafe Arnott / PNG ]]

    A Commercial Drive institution will be shuttering its doors early next year, the latest casualty of Vancouver’s rising retail rents.

    Wonderbucks has been a much-loved fixture on the Drive since it opened 18 years ago, but with the landlord asking for $25,000 in monthly rent — about double what he was paying in his last lease — owner Bernie Moschenross said he can no longer afford to keep going.

    “The combination of increased rent and property taxes is unbearable,” said the 62-year-old. “The increase is simply too much for us to handle.” 

    The property is now advertised for lease at $40 per square foot a year, plus $11.85 per sq. ft. in property taxes, excluding GST. That translates to about $27,270 a month for the 6,435-sq.-ft., one-storey building. Moschenross said he heard there was already interest from a large national retailer.

    With his other store on West Broadway shut three years ago after the landlord increased rent by almost 88 per cent, Moschenross said small, independent businesses like his are being pushed out of the city. 

    “The Drive is the last cool, hip area that’s somewhat affordable, but it’s (expensive) really across Vancouver. It’s the cost of living here and property values.”

    The two stores, which sell affordable and eclectic housewares and decor, had been successful enterprises that supported his family for almost two decades, said Moschenross. His three kids and his grandchildren have all worked at the stores. But now he doubts he can even sell the business. 

    Steadily increasing rents are a challenge for independent retailers, said Russell Long of Lee & Associates, a commercial real estate services firm.

    “I get a lot of calls from mom-and-pop-type of retailers, and it’s tough for them,” said Long, who specializes in Main and Fraser streets. “It’s hard to find anything under $4,000 (a month) for retail in Vancouver.”

    A recent Lee & Associates Metro Vancouver Retail Market report pegged rates on Commercial Drive from Venables to 13th Avenue at $30-$45 per sq. ft. In 2010, rents as low as $20 per sq. ft. could be found in the area. 

    It’s a challenge to survive in any retail district in Vancouver, said Nick Pogor, executive director of the Commercial Drive Business Society, especially for local, independent businesses, which have historically made up the majority of businesses on the Drive. 

    He’s noticed more empty store fronts and for-lease signs on the Drive than ever before — a sign of a neighbourhood in transition, he said, due largely to the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan. The plan, approved earlier this summer, calls for added density and an almost 30-per-cent population increase, but it’s the anticipation of that density that’s already pushing land values and property taxes up.

    “Any increase incurred by the property owner are typically passed down to the leaseholder to some degree,” noted Pogor. “That plays a role in the viability of businesses.” 

    Pogor said many businesses on The Drive are also worried about proposed parking-meter fee hikes and a proposed bike lane that could curb access to storefronts and eateries. He said there has also been an increase in crime and security issues in the neighbourhood. 

    In Moschenross’s case, it boiled down to numbers. The landlord, a local family, was advised they could get a substantial amount more in rent than the current rate. Moschenross doesn’t begrudge them the hike.

    “It’s a reality for the family to do the best they can for themselves,” he said. “Even though they’ve owned it for a long time, they want to have the property achieve its full potential.” 

    As he gears up for what would be the store’s final holiday season, Moschenross offered a word of advice to fellow retailer-renters: “If they have a good long-term lease, they’ll be fine,” he said. “But if their lease is coming up, be prepared for a shock.” 

    50 Comments by 19:30 12/3/2016

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: