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Growing Pains in Railtown

The Nascent Neighbourhood

Railtown 1The Vancouver Observer, an online independent newspaper, in an October 2013 article describes Railtown as “A taste of Brooklyn in Vancouver” and as “Vancouver’s final frontier.” The article defines this small area as within Alexander Street on the south and the railyards on the Burrard Inlet waterfront on the north between Columbia Street and Heatley Avenue. A May 2014 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) online article defines the area as somewhat larger extending from the waterfront as far south as Hastings Street between Main Street and Hawkes Avenue, a slight shift eastward, but both articles include a core area from Alexander Street north between Main Street and Heatley Avenue, and both express concern over gentrification.

The Gentrification Controversy

In a sidebar, “A brief history of gentrification in Vancouver,” The Observer defines gentrification as “people being pushed out of their neighbourhood by people with more money,” noting that the gentrification boom follows a long period of deterioration in which property values fell to very low levels. During this period, nobody paid property taxes, the city seized land for delinquent taxes, then sold it for bottom-level prices to buyers eager to profit from the 1966 Strata Titles Act, which for the first time made mere apartments real estate. Before that law there were no condos, just single-owner or cooperative properties. Condominium construction and conversion accelerated gentrification of neighbourhoods and displacement of their residents unable to buy into the change.

Railtown 3The Observer concludes that the city should explore “more creative modes” of property ownership by cooperative, shared ownership of whole buildings, cohousing, and laneway housing, small structures typically built in the rear of pre-existing. The CBC laments the facts that rapid growth in Railtown may be good news for business but that 13,000 Downtown East Side low-income residents living on pensions or welfare benefits face the threat of eviction.

New Attractions

Once a rough industrial district of dives and brothels, Railtown today is home to the avant-garde Railtown Design District, six affiliated businesses aiming to make the neighborhood a centre of architectural advancement. In addition to the Design District, Railtown has seen several new businesses and cafes arrive as old warehouse and factory buildings convert to new uses. The Vancouver Urban Winery has an historic building in which it manufactures, packages, imports, and distributes wine for multiple brands and hold functions and parties around wine themes. So popular has this new venture proven to be with patrons that it started in 2012 with two employees and now has thirty.

Information Links:

http://strathconabia.com/
http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/dtes-local-area-plan.aspx

Downtown Eastside Development Plan

Railtown, Gastown, and the rest of the Downtown Eastside may see major changes from the city council approval in March 2014 after two days of public hearings of a plan to guide future development. The mayor says the plan reflects “aspirations for safer and more stable Railtown 2housing, protections for low-income residents, stronger support for mental health and addictions, and a more vibrant local economy.”

The plan is ambitious in its aims to accommodate developers who have driven up land values by purchasing, redeveloping, or speculating on neighbourhood properties and to protect low-income residents increasingly struggling to afford rent and food as neighbourhood costs increase. Plan critics say provisions for new or replacement “social housing”* units, upgrades to single-room occupancies, and rent-subsidized units may help some area residents but will leave others in squalor or on the streets. Whether the plan does enough for all 6,300 residents on social assistance and 6,000 others on low incomes is uncertain, but in a no-condos zone along Hastings Street new structures must be at least 60 percent social housing, and one third of those new units must rent at shelter rates. The plan protects heritage buildings and designates Railtown as a potential location for office use.

* The British/Canadian term “social housing” is synonymous with “public housing” in the USA.

New Railtown Live MLS Listings

Railtown, Vancouver, Trendy

1-5/5
  • 624 289 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Hastings Condo for sale (Vancouver East) : MLS® # R2205601

    Main Photo: 624 289 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Hastings Condo for sale (Vancouver East)  : MLS® # R2205601
    $1,899,000
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2205601
    Bedrooms:
    2
    Bathrooms:
    2
    Floor Area:
    1,449 sq. ft.
    Waterfront luxury northwest corner penthouse loft to die for. A rare Vancouver waterfront corner location with 16ft wrap around windows and one of the city’s best patios for entertaining. Two lofts engineered into a single architecturally designed space. Masterfully designed and crafted with a huge Sub-Zero/Wolfe chef’s kitchen, custom walnut cabinetry, Italian tiles, and loads of smart custom luxury fixtures and finishes. This loft is a dream! Parking for 30 bikes - or 3 cars. More details
    RE/MAX Crest Realty Westside
  • 55 GORE Avenue in Vancouver: Hastings Condo for sale in "The Edge" (Vancouver East) : MLS® # R2204296

    Main Photo: 55 GORE Avenue in Vancouver: Hastings Condo for sale in "The Edge" (Vancouver East)  : MLS® # R2204296
    $1,298,800
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2204296
    Bedrooms:
    1
    Bathrooms:
    2
    Floor Area:
    1,797 sq. ft.
    Welcome to The Edge Harbourfront Lofts. 55 Gore Ave is a huge 1,797 sqft double height ground floor live/work loft space with access from Groe Ave with double doors opening into the inner courtyard area. This loft has 20.5 foot ceilings, polished concrete floors, a 75 foot concrete feature wall and a large 26' x 17' workspace. This very unique space offers a mezzanine with a master bedroom and ensuite. There are two parking stalls outside your courtyard door. The Edge has a 7,000 sq. ft. amenity building which has wood, metal and ceramic shops, a kiln room, music rehearsal space, darkroom, exercise room and a large multi-purpose room. Pets are okay with 2 dogs or 2 cats or one of each and rentals are allowed. More details
    Engel & Volkers Vancouver
  • 304 626 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Hastings Townhouse for sale (Vancouver East) : MLS® # R2212228

    Main Photo: 304 626 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Hastings Townhouse for sale (Vancouver East)  : MLS® # R2212228
    • Cruise Ship View
    • Main Floor
    • Kitchen
    • Mock up
    • Built-in Bookshelves
    • Main Floor2
    • Master Ensuite
    • 2nd Bedroom/Office
    • Family Bath
    • Water and Mountain View
    • Roof Top Garden
    • Roof Top Living
    • Bike Repair Station
    • Communal Courtyard
    • Front of Development
    • Roof Top Living
    • Modo Car Share onsite
    • Neighbourhood
    • Reverse Floor Plan
    $899,000
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2212228
    Bedrooms:
    2
    Bathrooms:
    3
    Floor Area:
    1,108 sq. ft.
    WOW! Extremely rare 2 bed + 2.5 bath + flex Penthouse loft with an amazing 458 sf rooftop deck fitted with water, electrical and natural gas, all this & gorgeous Water&Mountain Views in historic Railtown! Unique social and environmentally progressive building. Excellent finishing, HW floors throughout, 9'6 ceilings, bright, 1108 sf spacious home. Gourmet kitchen w/ solid quartz counters, gas range and ample storage space. The spa-like bathrooms fitted with custom vanity and storage, rain shower system and beautifully tiled shower/bath and floors. Front load In suite Laundry. Rapidly developing neighbourhood with boutique restaurants, micro breweries and shops. Extra large Storage and parking stall with electric charge option. Modo car share on site! By Appointment More details
    RE/MAX Central
  • 609 289 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Hastings Condo for sale in "EDGE HARBOURFRONT LOFTS" (Vancouver East) : MLS® # R2212018

    Main Photo: 609 289 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Hastings Condo for sale in "EDGE HARBOURFRONT LOFTS" (Vancouver East)  : MLS® # R2212018
    • City View
    • Kitchen and Living
    • Living
    • Living
    • Dining
    • Dining
    • Kitchen and Entrance
    • Kitchen
    • Bedroom
    • Bedroom
    • From Above
    • Main Floor Powder Room
    • Terrace
    • Terrace
    • Side Terrace
    • 6th Floor Common Area
    • Amenity Building
    • The Edge
    $799,900
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2212018
    Bedrooms:
    1
    Bathrooms:
    2
    Floor Area:
    842 sq. ft.
    The Edge, 842 sq. ft. South facing double height corner loft with a large terrace. Concrete floors and windows on two sides. Gas fireplace and range. Powder room on the main and an en suite bathroom up in the loft. Pet friendly with 2 pets allowed, rentals are also allowed. Secured underground parking. The Edge has a resident caretaker and a fabulous 7,000 sq. amenity building with woodworking and metal shops, kiln room and ceramics lad, music rehearsal rooms and darkroom along with an exercise room and general purpose area. Great central location close to the downtown business district, restaurants and entertainment. Tenanted property, showings Mon. to Fri. 10-4 pm and Sundays 2-4 pm. by appointment only 24 hours notice. More details
    Dexter Associates Realty
  • 209 626 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Hastings Condo for sale in "626 Alexander" (Vancouver East) : MLS® # R2195648

    Main Photo: 209 626 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Hastings Condo for sale in "626 Alexander" (Vancouver East)  : MLS® # R2195648
    $549,900
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2195648
    Bedrooms:
    1
    Bathrooms:
    1
    Floor Area:
    565 sq. ft.
    STUNNING 1 bed + 1 bath + flex loft in historic Railtown! Inside you will find beautiful hardwood floors, 9'6 ceilings and front to back windows allowing for a bright and spacious 565sf of open living space where no detail has been spared. Gourmet kitchen features solid quarts counters, integrated appliances, Fulgor Milano gas range/oven, large island for dining and entertaining and an abundance of storage space! The spa-like bathroom is fitted with custom vanity and storage, rain-shower system and gorgeously tiled shower and floors. Rapidly developing area with lots of boutique restaurants, breweries and shops! One storage locker included. More details
    Sutton Select Property Mgmt
1-5/5
Listing information last updated on October 19, 2017
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