Changes On The Drive #72

August 1, 2017

Another hot day — what we have come to expect!

Things at the south end seem settled at this time, with virtually no changes. Two of the three new storefronts at 2283-2289 Commercial are vacant (2 months), but the new convenience store seems busy enough.

At 2080, now that the framing is completed, it is possible to discern 4 storefronts in a two-storey building. Of course, the storefronts needn’t be used only as stand-alones; there are plenty of possible configurations. We’ll soon find out, I am sure.

The Bon Bon Laundry at 2058 is still operating, and the “for lease” sign is still there.

At 1858, the former Waves Coffee Shop now has a “Leased” sign. It’s been vacant for 5 months but maybe not for much longer.

At 1740, Babylon Tea has still not opened but seems barely days away now. This has been vacant for 10 months.

Thankfully, the ExBubbleTea shop at 1706 Commercial has finally opened.

In last month’s Changes I noted that the Candy Aisle had a “for lease” sign in the window. Today I see the sign has disappeared and the store is still open. Changed their minds, perhaps?

I understand that MOSAIC has now moved out of its offices upstairs in the Liquor Store building. That will be quite a space to fill.

I have now visited the Boa Down restaurant at 1408 Commercial.  My review is here.   I also spent some time at Turks at 1276, which I reported here.  I also went to the first day at the new Joe’s Grill.

There is, finally, some heavy work going on at Charlatan; I saw them jack-hammering the floor before the windows were carefully papered over. It has been sitting there with no activity for some months, so it is good to see some action.

Ar 1111 Commercial, the tat shop that used to be called Adorned is now calling itself Arcane Body Arts. The style of the art work on the name banner is very different from what was there before, and so I am guessing this was a change in management.

Previously, it looked like this:

Unfortunately, there has been no change in behaviour at Choices since I wrote about the Barrenness of Choices.

Vacant storefronts on Commercial as of the end of July 2017 include 2283 (2 months), 2285 (2 months), 1858 (5 months), 1801 (7 months), 1740 (10 months), 1735 (3 months), the former Strawberry bakery in Il Mercato (31 months), the Libra Room at 1606 (12 months), the Roma at 1500 (9 months), the Charlatan at 1447 (6 months), 13o3 (10 months), 1108 (39 months), and 902 (27 months).

I wrote  more about vacancies here.

 

This edition of the Changes on the Drive completes six full years of monthly reviews. I look forward to doing them each month and I hope to carry on with them for a long while for the historical record. Included below is my third annual survey of businesses on the Drive.

The definitions for the survey are: (a) all storefronts between south side Venables and north side E. 7th Avenue; (b) ground floor retail space only; (c) fronting Commercial Drive only; (d) exclude government and similar offices (5 storefronts).

Previous Changes on the Drive editions.


The Oldest House In Grandview

July 22, 2017

This afternoon, along with many of my friends, I went to the Grandview Heritage Group’s plaque unveiling at 1350 Graveley Street.  There was rain in the air, but thankfully it held off,

It was a delight to spend time with heritage lovers, and the Calogero family were generous in their hospitality, their expresso, and their wonderful biscotti.  And it was an especial delight to recognise and celebrate the oldest survivng house in our neighbourhood.


Car Free Day!

July 9, 2017

Today was Car Free Day on the Drive, and I spent all afternoon crewing the Grandview Heritage Group’s booth. Thank goodness it was a bit cooler today, and with a very pleasant breeze throughout.

It it always encouraging to see how many people are interested in our local history and heritage, and it makes the work involved thoroughly worthwhile.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by and chatted!


Reminder: Car Free Day

July 7, 2017

Sunday is Car Free Day on Commercial Drive. It runs from noon until about 7:00pm and the streets will be filled with booths and food and tens of thousands of people. It is my favourite festival on the Drive, feeling somehow a whole lot less corporate than Italian Day has become.

I will be helping to crew the Grandview Heritage Group booth which will be outside Bosa Foods at the corner of Parker.  We will have a lot of interesting material to display, including mystery objects from the past, maps showing the development of Grandview in the early days, images of period interiors, and access to the Grandview Database to look up the history, perhaps, of your house.

Come on by for a chat. I look forward to seeing many of you at some point during the day.


Changes On The Drive #71

July 1, 2017

I did the walk yesterday morning, thinking to avoid the Canada Day crowds. Probably a good idea, but boy was it hot!

Starting as always at the southern end of the Drive, the 2200-block is really active. I notice that the endmost new storefront, 2287 Commercial, on the west side has already been occupied by a new convenience store called Express News. The other two storefronts — 2285 and 2283 — are available but not yet filled.

I am pleased to report that Sweet Greek at 2227 Commercial (see review here) seems to be doing well. They now have a full range of tables, and are offering a $6 breakfast.  Friendly people and well worth a visit.

Further down on that block, the single-storey building that has housed Universal Tech at 2211 since 1990 is now for sale. Universal is still open but it seems doubtful the building will survive much longer.

Across the street at 2270, Cabrito has a new menu that was featured this week at Scout magazine.  My own review from last March can be found here.

Also in that block, a two-bedroom apartment was for sale in the Marquee for $699,000.  It appears to have already been sold, but for those of us who haven’t been in the complex yet, the realtor offered some images.

In the 2100-block, the old two-lot Russell place is now framed up as a two-storey (or, I guess, a lofted single storey) with, perhaps, three or four storefronts on Commercial.

At 2058, the building is still for lease, but the laundry keeps operating.

Still vacant are the former Waves coffee shop at 1850 (4 months), the old Wonderbucks store at 1801 (5 months), and the storefront at 1735 Commercial (2 months).

The storefront at 1740 is also still closed (after 9 months) but it will very soon reopen as the Babylon Tea Company. They have done a nice job with new tiling on the front.

In a similar position is the old cupcake store at 1706 Commercial. the Van Classic bubble tea shop seems to be about ready to open but for now the storefront is still closed (7 months).

Dolce Amore at 1588 has reopened after their brief reno with a gelato mafia theme. I am reliably informed by the everloving that their new flavours are interesting and most of them work really well. Down the block at 1544, however, the Candy Aisle store seems to have failed, with a “For Lease” sign in the window.

Most depressing are the continued closures and vacancies at the old Strawberry Bakery site in Il Mercato (30 months), the Libra Room at 1606 (11 months), Roma at 1500 (8 months),  Charlatan at 1447 (5 months), 1303 (9 months), 1108 (38 months), and 902 Commercial (26 months).

To end on a more pleasant note, the storefront at 952 (vacant for 10 months) is still closed but there are strong indications (via a sign and work on the interior) that a new branch of Joe’s Grill is about to open.

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I am often asked by readers whether the number of vacancies on the Drive has increased recently. The following is a graph of vacancies over the previous two years. Ground floor retail storefronts on Commercial Drive are counted. Major building projects (REACH, the former Russell space on 2100-block, for example) are excluded.

Of more concern, perhaps, than the overall number of vacancies are the length of time certain storefront remain vacant. The following graph (which will become a monthly staple) shows the ageing of vacancies in July 2017:

 

Previous Changes on The Drive editions.


Changes On the Drive #70

June 1, 2017

It was a really wet walk today!  It was so wet, even the pigeons were cowering under the pediment of the Odlin Block.

 

Starting down south as usual, I notice that the renovation of the old Food Shop on the corner of Commercial and Grandview highway has actually created three units rather than the two I had expected. They are numbered as 2283-2285-2287 Commercial, and a new door has been created for 2287.

The laundry at 2058 Commercial is still operating and still has a large For Lease sign.

In the 1800-block, the former Waves Coffee store at 1850 is still vacant (after 3 months), as is Wonderbucks at 1801 (4 months). One block north, 1735 Commercial is vacant, along with 1740 (8 months), 1706 Commercial (6 months) and 1706 E. 1st. I note that the “Bubble Tea coming soon” signs at 1706 Commercial are no longer there.

North of 1st, the former Strawberry Bakery site inside Il Mercato is still vacant after 29 months. Across the street, there seems no sign of encouragement at the Libra Room which has been closed now for 10 months, the ancient “Coming Soon” signs notwithstanding.  The same could be said for the Roma at 1500, closed now for 7 months. Perhaps they too are having insurance issues which is what we understand (from a comment to the last Changes post) is holding up renovations at Charlatan at 1447 Commercial. Their closure has now lasted 4 months.

The storefronts at 1303 (8 months), 1108 (37 months), 952 (9 months), and 902 (25 months) are still vacant.

On the bright side, the Tandoori Palace at 1439 has reopened after renos, and La Dolce Amore gelato emporium is closed for a few days while they complete a renovation. As reported last month, they will have a whole raft of new flavours and combinations for the re-opening.  Also now open is Bao Down at 1408. It seems to be a beer and tacos joint, though I couldn’t see a menu to confirm. Their interior walls are brightly painted throughout with Steam Whistle pilsener ads.

Choices now has opaque glass on all Drive-facing windows, blanking the view inside. Their store is nearly half a block long and this makes that whole section look unattractive and rather bleak. They need to put plants and or produce outside to create some street appeal.

Last month I mentioned that the REACH building was moving alongm but I forgot to include an image. Here it is today.

 

At 1011, upstairs from Penelope’s is now DAMA on the Drive, a shop and play space for the international game of Kendama.  Know what that is? Neither did I.  Here they will tell you all about it.  Good luck to them!

Further to my post last month about the lack of public clocks, I note that Carepoint Clinic has a clock in their waiting room visible from the street, and there is another on the north wall of Heather’s Salon at 2239 Commercial.

 

Previous editions of Changes on the Drive.


The De-Beautification of Vancouver Continues

May 19, 2017

Vision Vancouver’s plan to turn Vancouver into a homogenous zone of endlessly similar beige neighbourhoods of townhouses, duplexes and soaring tower clusters continues apace.

Two of the loveliest buildings that make Grandview so special are about to be lost to us.

Image: Google Streetview

The pair of cottages at 2040 and 2054 Pandora are for sale, as a pair, at $5,600,000.  There is a “potential to build up to 11 units … excellent development opportunity.” That seems to encourage demolition and the imposition of some bland modern revenue development.

Why can’t we incentivize the current owner or a purchaser to moving the houses forward on the lot, thus maintaining a heritage streetscape at that point. The incentive presumably would be the right to infill buildings behind the old houses which themselves could be renovated and made strata. A form of HRA, I guess, not unlike Jeffs Residences and the presently-being-constructed Brookhouse on Parker.

Anyway, it will be a great shame to see these houses disappear.