What a glorious day yesterday to take a walk on the Drive. Hot sunshine, smiles on people’s faces, packed patios; hard to beat.
The most important change this month is the fall in the number of vacant or closed storefronts. There are just 7, the lowest number since September 2014. And because we have actually added quite a number of storefronts since that earlier date, this is the lowest percentage of closed stores for an even longer time.
The easiest of the changes on the Drive to see this month are the four crosswalks freshly painted with the colours of the Italian flag. These are the payoff that Fortis (working with the BIA) has offered in exchange for the disruption they caused last year as they upgraded their facilities along First Avenue. In the meanwhile, ten or more local businesses are suing the gas company for loss of revenue during last year’s work. This is the one at 4th Avenue.
Loku Japanese restaurant has now opened at the 2280 storefront in the Marquee.
The double storefronts at 2088 Commercial have been vacant for 16 months, so it is good to see them now open as Grounds For Coffee‘s new location. Apparently famous in Point Grey for their handmade cinnamon buns, this latest in our most recent upsurge of coffee/baked goods establishments, is aiming to make them their marketing difference.
Right next door, at 2080. the Elephant Garden Creamery makes it to Daily Hive’s Must Try Ice Cream list. (Personally, I am amazed and somewhat affronted that they did not include Dolce Amore on their list!)
At 1961 Commercial, the old Coastal Food Market, operating there since 1969, seems to have morphed into ShopRite2:
It was good to see workmen inside 1810 and 1812 but they are, still, closed after 15 months. However, the space at 1706 wasn’t left idle for long; it is now the home of Dive In Desserts. I have a feeling they will do a lot better than the previous tenants.
The previously vacant storefront at 1409 Commercial has been taken over by a Cell Doctor company:
Memphis Blues at 1342 Commercial gets a good mention in Hive’s best nacho spots list.
The Canucks Auction store that has briefly been at 1303 Commercial has moved to 1726 Commercial, an upstairs office, leaving this space vacant once again.
The storefront part of the REACH Clinic at 1151 Commercial is now occupied, on a temporary basis, by the Multicultural Family Centre.
Back in Changes #89 in January this year, I mentioned the confusion over the name of the operation at 1110 Commercial. Finally, we have a Grand Opening of the Pizza Castle & Indian Curry house.
Vacancies on the Drive this month: 2223 Commercial (3 months vacant), 1840 (4 months), 1812 (15 months), 1810 (15 months), 1735 (8 months), 1303 (1 month), 952 (8 months).
Previous editions of Changes On the Drive.
Last night was the May monthly meeting of the Grandview Heritage Group. As usual it was two hours of lively informed comment and discussion on a wide variety of topics. These included upcoming heritage tours and programs, an excellent presentation from a group looking to put together a history of Clark Park, and an exquisite piece of historical detective work by Neville revealing the history of 1906 Grant Street.
We also looked at the plague of demolitions that are this summer’s blight on Grandview. In particular we looked in depth at a single block on Venables where five older houses are being (or have already been) demolished this month. In most cases, stately and adaptable Edwardian buildings are being replaced with cookie-cutter back-and-front duplexes. There are serious issues both with why this is occurring and the effect they will have on the long term social fabric of the neighbourhood.
The houses being demolished generally started life as single family properties. But they were large and spacious and their interior structure allowed them to be configured to suit multiple uses. The single family house often developed into a multi-generational home, then perhaps into a rooming house or complex of individual suites, and many saw further use as a renovated SFH with a basement suite helping the mortgage. Families and neighbour community were encouraged by this kind of architecture.
The replacement duplexes, with their lack of basements and attics and their fixed regular patterns discouraging or inhibiting family growth, are designed for the modern two-person tech couple isolated within their own cells and digital networks. Families and community groups are being replaced by “household units.” This is a fundamental and unwelcome change in the social fabric for a family-friendly residential neighbourhood such as Grandview.
As part of the overall debate, we kicked around ideas about why this happening. A generally accepted view is that the planning and development process has been so damaged in Vancouver (we have all heard of relatively trivial projects taking years to complete through the bureaucracy and with tens of thousands in fees attached) that developers are deciding against innovation and are sticking to templated duplex designs they can get through the process with a minimum of fuss and delay. There still seems to be a market for these at around $1.4 million per half-duplex and a slightly lower profit margin is preferred to the risks of serious delay with any other kind of development proposals.
Should we really be changing the nature of our communities just to suit a failure of competence in the planning process?
Update: see also: “And …”
I have not been writing here as much I would like, but I really have not been idle. My recent (and continuing) heavy bout of researching for a new book has allowed me to collect a great deal of information that is of value to the Grandview Database project of the Grandview Heritage Group.
A new edition of the Database was published today.
If you have an interest in a Grandview address, or in a Commercial Drive business, say, take a look at the Database, search for the address you want, and see what historical data we have on it so far.
Today is the 8th anniversary of the founding of the Grandview Heritage Group (GHG).
The GHG website has become the go-to place for anyone interested in the 100+year history of our wonderful neighbourhood, and the group has made enormous strides in its mission: to identify, preserve, and celebrate our local heritage. The monthly meetings are always interesting, and it has been exciting to watch new people come into the group and keep it lively.
Well done everyone concerned and we look forward to more exciting work as we move into the future.
I did the walk yesterday in beautiful bright sunshine. For a mid-week mid-morning, the Drive was pleasantly lively. There were few changes in the storefronts this month.
JamJar Restaurant has moved into the space at 2290 Commercial. I believe it is officially opening today. The new tenants at JamJar’s previous address, 2280, have not yet moved in.
My Sister’s Closet is due to open today at 1830 Commercial, having moved from 1151 Commercial.
It is wonderful indeed to see the old Crystal Dairy/Wonderbucks space at 1801 Commercial filled with activity again after a closure of more than 2 years. Blaine McNamee and his Rufus Guitar and Drums got a good write-up at the CBC.
Sake Mako at 1414 Commercial has a new awning, I believe.
Meanwhile next door, at 1408, the new Harbour Oyster Bar, seems to be having a soft opening, even though I am sure I read it was not opening until next week. Either way, I welcome them to the the Drive and wish them good fortune.
The Daily Hive has a fine feature on Rosemary Rocksalt bagels at 1350 Commercial.
The space at 1151 in the REACH building is now vacant; My Sister’s Closet has moved to 1830 Commercial. I wonder if REACH will rent it out again or whether it will become part of the clinic?
As I mentioned at the beginning, there were few changes this month.
Vacancies on the Drive this month: 2223 Commercial (2 months vacant), 2086 (16 months), 2088 (16 months), 1840 (3 months), 1812 (14 months), 1810 (14 months), 1735 (7 months), 1706 (3 months), 1409 (8 months), 952 (7 months).
Previous Changes on The Drive editions.
I took advantage of Saturday’s gorgeous spring weather to do the walk. The Drive was busy, noisy, revelling in the sleeveless warmth, every patio seat filled.
It is all change in the Marquee storefronts. Relish Burgers at 2990 Commercial has closed. The lease has been picked up by Fadi Eid, owner of the Jamjar restaurant currently at 2280 Commercial. Jamjar will close at 2280 on April 30th and reopen at 2290 the following day. Later in May, 2280 will become the new location for Sushi Loku which is currently located on East Broadway.
Across the street, after 5 months sitting vacant, 2235 Commercial is now Vape Street …
… while 2223 Commercial is closed “for renovations until further notice.”
The Saloniki Restaurant, long resident at 1815 Commercial has morphed into the Park Drive.
There is work being done at the Falcone storefronts at 1810 and 1812 Commercial. They look far from ready to re-open, but it is good to see some activity there after more than a full year’s closure..
Fortunato Bruzzese’s glorious La Grotta del Formaggio at 1791 Commercial has been selected as the place to get the Best Sandwich in Metro Vancouver by the Vancouver Sun.
Meanwhile, Pulp Fiction bookstore has completed its move from 1830 Commercial to 1744 Commercial, a much bigger space.
At 1622, La Mezcaleria is the only Commercial Drive joint in Scout’s list of Best Brunches in the City. I happen to think there are some decent brunches available all up and down the Drive, but this one is pretty good.
The former Bao Down at 1408 Commercial is still not open, but they have a new awning that announces the imminent arrival of Harbour Oyster Bar.
The new Livia Bakery & Cafe at 1395 Commercial continues to attract good press. It was packed from end to end when I walked by on Saturday.
The northern four blocks of Commercial to Venables were unchanged this month.
Vacancies on the Drive this month: 2290 Commercial (1 month vacant), 2086 (vacant 15 months), 2088 (15 months), 1840 (2 months), 1830 (1 month), 1812 (13 months), 1810 (13 months), 1801 (27 months), 1735 (6 months), 1706 (2 months), 1409 (7 months), 1408 (12 months), 952 (6 months).
Previous Changes on the Drive editions.