Changes On The Drive #96

August 1, 2019

It was just a perfect summer’s day stroll down the Drive yesterday with the heat of the bright sunshine complemented by a good fresh breeze.  It was a midweek lunch hour, and the Drive wasn’t so busy as to be uncomfortable. Notwithstanding the lazy weather, there have been a number of changes on the street this month, but we end up, once again, at our lowest vacancy number for several years..

The Sweet Greek restaurant at 2277 Commercial is still closed after the change of management noted last month. It looked desolate through the windows yesterday so I am reluctantly calling this one vacant.

 

Cafe Deux Soleils at 2096 Commercial gets a nice call out as one of the best and cheapest brunches in town. It was during a poetry slam in the last millenium when I was last there. No idea why it took so long, but I went yesterday for brunch and it was great.

 

There is good news on the Falcone front.  The restaurant at 1812 may already be open, it certainly looked ready as I walked by yesterday. the 1810 storefront was completely covered up, so it was impossible to tell if that is equally ready to re-emerge.  Good news anyway.

La Grotta at 1791 Commercial is celebrating 40 years of service on the Drive,

The Babylon Tea Company at 1740 Commercial was closed as I walked by. it was closed the last time i looked, too, and there is an accumulation of mail on the doorstep.  Maybe just closed for holidays so I am reluctant to call it vacant yet.

The anticipated Bar Corso at 1544 Commercial is still not yet open.

One of the last surviving stores of its type, Black Dog Video at 1470 Commercial gets a CBC story.

The space next door to Renzo’s, 1303 Commercial, seems to be being taken over by the Green Party, in anticipation of the fall election, I guess.

Whatever extra space was previously available at the REACH Clinic, 1045 Commercial, is now to be occupied by a new Provincial Health Care hub. “The facilities are intended to take stress off of hospital ERs while providing patients with same-day access to doctors and nurses.”

 

Story on the Eastside Food Co-op at 1034 Commercial has turned its fortune on it head. Last year, there were fears it would have to close; now, it is reporting great results and even talking about a possible expansion. Great news for a great organization.

The Absinthe Bistro, which used to be at 1260 Commercial, has now moved and opened at 952 Commercial.

 

Vacancies on the Drive this month:  2277 Commercial (1 month vacant), 2223 (5 months), 1840 (6 months), 1810 (17 months), 1735 (10 months), 1544 (2 months), 1260 (1 month).

The future of retail?  See the massive anticipated growth in “autonomous check out” in retail stores:  https://t.co/vy9y61svba

 

 

Previous Changes On The Drive editions.

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More about Work

July 22, 2019

I have today published a geographic analysis of the 1911 Census for Grandview, along with a map showing the distribution of population change in the district between 1911 and 1921.

For those interested in our local history, please visit the Grandview Heritage website.


Changes On The Drive #95

July 1, 2019

Boy it was hot walking the Drive yesterday. Thank goodness I remembered my hat!

Not a lot of changes this month.  However, we remain at only 8 vacancies on the Drive. Two of those vacancies are former cannabis dispensaries which, I assume, are still struggling with the licensing process, two others are the linked Falcone storefronts which may or may not be being renovated (it is hard to tell), and a further two are scheduled to reopen imminently.

The Sweet Greek, a place I have praised before, has a sign saying that new management has taken over.  Fingers crossed that it doesn’t lose its charm.

 

The new-to-us Grounds for Coffee, which opened last month at 2088 Commercial, gets a long and glowing review in the Vancouver Sun.  However, they have had to give up their idea of not accepting cash.

 

As suggested last month, My Sister’s Closet has now formally taken over the 1828 Commercial storefront.

 

The BBQ Chicken place at 1678 Commercial seems to be getting a makeover. It was looking pretty run down.

 

The southernmost storefront of the Kalena group, 1544 Commercial, which most recently failed as a fancy candy store, is soon to be a bar, the Corso.  I’m not sure when it will open.

 

Sopra Sotto at 1510 Commercial has opened a branch in Burnaby.

The owners of the recently opened Harbour Oyster Bar at 1408 Commercial are revealed to be Ari Demosten and Alex Kytiazis, previously known from their controversial and now-closed Escobar Restaurant on Fraser.

Finally, 952 Commercial (which used to be Joe’s Grill) is still closed but will soon reopen as the new location for Absinthe Bistro, currently at 1260 Commercial.

 

Vacancies on the Drive this month:  2223 Commercial (4 months vacant), 1840 (5 months), 1812 (16 months), 1810 (16 months), 1735 (9 months), 1544 (1 month), 1303 (2 months), 952 (9 months).

Previous Changes on The Drive editions.


Saying Goodbye to Lord Nelson School House

June 16, 2019


Changes On The Drive #94

June 1, 2019

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.


The Effect of A Bad Planning Process on Our Neighburhood

May 17, 2019

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 …”


The Grandview Database

May 15, 2019

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.