The title of this article may sound like the start of a joke. But there’s no punch line, just a sad story. In September 08, CCAP counted 486 privately owned empty housing units in the Downtown Eastside. Where is that vacant room tax when we need it? These rooms could easily be opened up with “some lipstick”, a slap of paint and a little maintenance to house some of the 659 homeless people counted by SPARC in 2008.
Our count doesn’t include those in government-owned hotels as most are ready to open soon except maybe the Pender and Phoenix Hotels (48 rooms) that are sitting there collecting dust.
We focused on privately owned buildings. We cannot claim 100% accuracy. The count is our best guess based on attempts to contact the owners and managers, and, failing that, talk in the neighbourhood.
We found 36 empty units in apartments including Ada’s old building at 334 Carrall, the other at 633 Gore. Both are for sale, one may be in receivership. The other is a condemned building across from Woodwards. We didn’t count it because we don’t know the # of rooms.
We believe there are 15 privately owned hotels with 450 empty rooms. One hotel is slowly emptying out – the Argyle Hotel (near Woodwards). Four hotels may be opening soon, but may be higher than welfare shelter rate. Four hotels are for sale. Owners may want to empty their buildings as a condition of sale.
Here’s the list of hotels. If a hotel is missing on this list, let us know:
- 1. 228 E Pender – 20 rooms closed in 2003 – renovation and may open soon
- 2. American Hotel – 37 rooms closed – no renovations – collecting dust
- 3. Argyle Hotel – 41 rooms closed – 2 tenants remain according to tenants
- 4. Backpacker Hotel – 44 rooms closed
- 5. Burns Block – 28 rooms closed – to be renovated into upscale rentals
- 6. Canadian North Star – 28 rooms closed – next to the Backpackers
- 7. Colonial Hotel – 15 empty rooms – are renovating that may open soon $405-$495/month
- 8. Dominion Hotel – 67 empty rooms – for sale
- 9. Evergreen Hotel - 27 rooms – above BC Collateral
- 10. Hampton Rooms – 16 units closed because of fire – owned by the Ludicio family like the Brandiz Hotel
- 11. Jay Rooms – 12 rooms empty – definitely renting as offices
- 12. No 5 Orange – 15 rooms empty – may be used for “other business”
- 13. Pacific Hotel - 30 rooms closed – tenants have eviction notices
- 14. Palace Hotel – 26 rooms empty – may be open soon possibly to methadone only clients
- 15. Piccadilly Hotel – 44 rooms empty – no renovations – its just sitting there collecting dust
More Hotel “Intelligence”
Star Beach Haven’s (on Alexander) for sale sign is gone and we don’t know if there are still tenants inside. Evictions were underway last spring. We believe the City just bought the empty Phoenix Apts which is on Powell. The Chelsea Inn is full of tenants but is up for sale like the Palace. Chelsea and Palace (58 rooms) are across the street from the empty Concord Pacific condo site on Hastings. 2 buildings are for sale on 1100 block E. Hastings.