Speculation Fever: By Ivan Drury
Gentrification in the Downtown Eastside is fueled by real estate speculation, investment, development and the promise of the already super-rich buying-low and selling-high. These speculators are driving out the low-income community as part of doing business. Here’s a small sample of some key properties in the DTES:
The 9-storey rental-apartment proposal at 245 E. Georgia is part of the gentrification of Chinatown since City Hall raised possible building heights to 9-storeys, or 12-15 with a permit. A 9-storey condo is being built two-doors down at 217 E. Georgia. There’s no news yet on the destiny of the recently bought building right next door.
633 & 611 Main St
The first rezoning proposals approved under the new zoning laws in Chinatown-south: the shops at the corner of Main and Georgia will soon be a 16-storey condo tower with no social housing and the discount store and vacant casino at Main and Keefer will be a 17-storey tower with only 11-units of welfare rate social housing.
537 E. Cordova
The second-ever condo project proposed for the DTES Oppenheimer District was approved by City Hall in March at this site on the block between Oppenheimer Park and UGM. This 4-storey Boffo Properties condo building (with 5 units of social housing) is already causing property price increases and sparking real estate speculation in the heart of the low-income community.
These self-contained apartments may be the first victims of the Boffo condos one-block away. The real estate agent posting for this building claims that city planners will support the conversion of these apartments out of reach for current low-income tenants, claiming, “679 East Cordova is well-positioned to capitalize on the flurry of investment activity in East Vancouver.”
Owned and run by Atira for the last couple years, the Heatley Block was sold last month to a developer. Under non-profit management the Heatley Block rented at welfare-shelter rate but a new private owner will likely raise the rents for higher-income tenants.
150 E. Cordova
Exactly at the border of the DTES Oppenheimer District 150 E. Cordova is the site of another 9-storey condo tower proposal. Because it is in the Gastown zoning district this condo project does not have to include any social housing.