Changes On the Drive #74

October 1, 2017

Today was a gorgeous morning, bright and cool; just perfect for my first real exercise in a month.

The building at 2211 has had a For Sale sign showing for three months now, though Universal Technologies is still chugging along.

The construction work on the eastside of the 2000-block seems close to completion. Four separate storefronts can now be clearly discerned, along with a second storey running the full length.

At 2058, the “For Lease” sign has gone, and the Bon Bon Laundry is still operating.

The renovation of 1928 Commercial has been completed in record time. It is now open as Ollie Quinn, optometrist. They also advertize itself as a “community workspace” though I don’t really know what that means at this point.

 

The former Waves coffee shop at 1858 has had a new white paint job on the exterior. However, the windows are still papered over and so what this is going to become is still a mystery to me. An equal mystery is why the Babylon Tea Shop at 1740 is till “Opening Soon” when it appears to have been ready for two months. Odd that.

I have seen a lot of work going on in both the former Roma Restaurant, and the Libra Room, though both are still closed at this point.  [Update:  I am advised that Libra Room is actually open]. However, after an 8 month closure, the Charlatan at 1447 had its soft re-opening yesterday and seemed ready and eager for business this morning as I strolled by.

The Havana Restaurant/Theatre/Art Gallery complex at 1224 Commercial with its ever-popular patio is in the process of being sold to a Vancouver company that owns Belgard Kitchen, Postmark Brewing, and Vancouver Urban Winery. It is not expected that many changes will be made once the ownership agreement is completed in November.

The new REACH Medical and Dental construction at 1117 is almost complete. There is some hope that it will re-open by the end of October.

The next ten days will see the final demise of Bosa Grocery on Commercial Drive. Their rebuilt store on Victoria officially opens next Friday. They have already started allowing the inventory on the Drive to be depleted and the manager expects it to be empty perhaps three or four days after the new place opens. He mentioned that the biggest problem they had with being on the Drive was parking availability. He has no idea what might go into the space although he did mention that a group of physiotherapists had shown some interest. He was concerned for the future of Joe’s Grill next door as they will lose the foot traffic that Bosa has attracted.

Finally, there is an unconfirmed rumour that Robin’s Pharmacy at 908 Commercial is either sold or looking for a buyer.

 

Closures and vacancies on Commercial this month include: 2283 (4 months), 2285 (4 months), 1858 (7 months), 1801 (9 months), 1740 (12 months), 1735 (5 months), the former Strawberry Bakery in Il Mercato (33 months), 1606 (14 months), 1500 (11 months), 1303 (12 months), 1268 (2 months), 1108 (41 months), and 902 (29 months).

Previous Changes On the Drive editions.

Advertisements

Changes On The Drive #73

September 1, 2017

I had a medical appointment at 7 this morning so, when that was done, and after a lazy breakfast, I was able to complete my walk on the Drive in the coolness of the early morning. It was very pleasant and all finished by 9.

The building at 2211 Commercial is still for sale, and that at 2058 is still for lease, though Universal Technologies and the Bon Bon Laundry respectively are still operating.

Kokopelli Hair at 2048-2052 Commercial is celebrating its twentieth anniversary on the Drive. Well done to them!

The Precious and Few consignment store at 1928 seems to have bit the dust. There were workman inside today apparently beginning a full renovation.

Olivieri’s, the First Ravioli Store, at 1900 Commercial has been sold and is now Easy Shop.

I notice that the old “First Ravioli” signs are still on the windows, so there is some continuity, and it looks to be the same inside as I recall. I believe I saw the lady who used to run this working in Bosa last week. Meanwhile, the old Waves coffee shop at 11858 is still vacant, and both the “For Lease” and “Leased” signs have disappeared.

I learn from a correspondent that the Mediterranean Food store at 1842 Commercial has changed hands. Jack Elmasu, the owner for more than 40 years, is staying on for a while to train the new owners in the business. My correspondent was also gracious enough to forward me this interesting article about the store and Jack Elmasu from 2011.

The Babylon Tea Shop at 1740 is still not open. It has appeared to be ready for more than a month, but “Opening Soon” is still the situation.

Mezcaleria at 1622 has new menus, it is reported.

The Libra Room is still very much closed and shuttered. However, I noticed this month (perhaps I missed them before), signs on the windows saying “Now hiring for all positions”. Is that a hopeful sign?

City Bistro at 1268 has closed already. The “opening soon” sign was up longer than the restaurant itself.

I never got to eat there. I tried to go with a Hungarian friend a few weeks ago but they were unexpectedly closed on a Thursday night.

Finally, it seems that this is the last month for Bosa on the Drive. They are planning to move back to their newly rebuilt premises on Victoria at the end of the month. It will be a real shame to lose them off the Drive.

Closures and vacancies on Commercial this month include: 2283 (3 months), 2285 (3 months), 1928 (1 month), 1801 (8 months), 1740 (11 months), 1735 (4 months), the former Strawberry Bakery in Il Mercato Mall (32 months), 1606 (13 months), 1500 (10 months), 1447 (7 months), 1303 (11 months), 1268 (1 month), 1108 (40 months), and 902 (28 months).

Previous Changes on The Drive editions.


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.

**************************

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.