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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

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  • 281 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Hastings Condo for sale in "The Edge" (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2287274

    Main Photo: 281 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Hastings Condo for sale in "The Edge" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2287274
    $2,099,000
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2287274
    Bedrooms:
    1
    Bathrooms:
    2
    Floor Area:
    2,764 sq. ft.
    One of Vancouver’s largest live/work properties in Railtown, home to some of Vancouver’s leading entrepreneurs & top rated restaurants. 2764 sq.ft. loft with ultimate potential.Large concrete loft style main floor suite with direct street access. Featuring: a secure gate out front, concrete floors, exposed concrete throughout, 1 bed, 2 baths, photo-studio space(s), large industrial kitchen, design/office area,plenty of storage, views to water, 3 parking stalls including one right out back.Over height ceilings, upto 11’ high. Included are:$65k worth of arch. plans by GW Architects. Invest in an area @ earliest stages of growth at only $759/sq.ft. Concrete solid building located just East of Gastown, that has expansive metal/wood shop, photo lab,gym. More details
    Listed by RE/MAX Crest Realty
  • 220 289 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Hastings Condo for sale in "The Edge" (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2296420

    Main Photo: 220 289 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Hastings Condo for sale in "The Edge" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2296420
    $1,099,000
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2296420
    Bedrooms:
    1
    Bathrooms:
    2
    Floor Area:
    1,025 sq. ft.
    Welcome to the Edge, one of Vancouver's most coveted buildings. Seated at the ‘edge’ of Gastown and Railtown, this artist live/work loft is just steps from the city’s trendiest spots - Ask for Luigi, Local Gastown, Diamond, L'Abattoir, Chinatown, hidden jewel Crab Park, and many more. The building’s legendary amenities include wood and metal shops, a ceramics room, recording studios, and a gym. This loft’s soaring 18.6' ceilings frame an expansive patio and northern views that stretch from downtown to the Port of Vancouver. The unit has been updated to include a contemporary kitchen, discreet office, S/S appliances, polished concrete floors, and a walk-through closet. The perfect industrial canvas for your downtown loft dreams! More details
    Listed by Engel & Volkers Vancouver
  • 299 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Hastings Condo for sale in "The Edge" (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2291709

    Main Photo: 299 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Hastings Condo for sale in "The Edge" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2291709
    $995,000
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2291709
    Bathrooms:
    1
    Floor Area:
    989 sq. ft.
    Spacious ground level live/work studio with with direct street access and retail exposure. This unique and highly versatile space is equally ideal for a living space as it is a business, and allows the flexibility to switch back and forth. Large open concept floorplan with corner windows for lots of light. Updated kitchen featuring stainless steel appliances. The Edge is a desirable building with incredible amenities including bike room, fitness centre, wood and metal work shops, pottery studio, music and photography rooms, and more. Located in thriving Railtown, only minutes from some of Vancouver's best restaurants, shopping, waterfront and more! Comes with two very secure underground parking stalls. Rentals allowed as well as 2 dogs or 2 cats. Call for a viewing! More details
    Listed by RE/MAX Crest Realty
  • 801 168 POWELL Street in Vancouver: Downtown VW Condo for sale in "SMART" (Vancouver West) : MLS®# R2296728

    Main Photo: 801 168 POWELL Street in Vancouver: Downtown VW Condo for sale in "SMART" (Vancouver West)  : MLS®# R2296728
    $899,900
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2296728
    Bedrooms:
    2
    Bathrooms:
    1
    Floor Area:
    988 sq. ft.
    Chic Gastown Entertainer’s Condo: Almost 1,000 sqft of newly renovated space in this bright corner suite on the sub-PH floor. 6-piece Fisher & Paykel and Bosch kitchen with huge island, Quartz waterfall countertops, ambient custom dining area, all with designer lighting and finishes. Smoothed ceilings and engineered hardwood throughout. Feature fireplace with high-efficiency fire insert. The bathroom features chevron tile design and upscale black fixtures and lighting. This 2009-built, concrete building is two blocks from the heart of Gastown and steps to shopping, restaurants, bars and coffee shops. One parking and a storage locker are included. More details
    Listed by Oakwyn Realty Downtown Ltd.
  • 412 289 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Hastings Condo for sale in "THE EDGE" (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2289102

    Main Photo: 412 289 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Hastings Condo for sale in "THE EDGE" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2289102
    $878,800
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2289102
    Bedrooms:
    2
    Bathrooms:
    2
    Floor Area:
    954 sq. ft.
    THE EDGE-Railtown’s sought-after & unique concrete mid-rise with a very trendy location steps to downtown & the best restaurants & shopping. This 954 sqft, 2 bed, 2 full bath, double height loft is very cool with soaring 15’ floor-to-ceiling windows, big south facing balcony w/ peaceful views of trees & blue sky, brick feature walls & fireplace surround, HW floors, & sleek kitchen w/ gas stove. Versatile bedroom on the main with double glass sliding doors & loft bed. Upstairs has the large master bedroom with den, built-ins & nice ensuite. The Edge has an excellent reputation & a fabulous 7,000 sqft amenity building (woodworking & metal shops, kiln & ceramics rooms, music rehearsal rooms, darkroom plus exercise room). Rentals & pets ok. 1 secure parking. More details
    Listed by RE/MAX Real Estate Services
  • 205 28 POWELL Street in Vancouver: Downtown VE Condo for sale in "POWELL LANE" (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2295769

    Main Photo: 205 28 POWELL Street in Vancouver: Downtown VE Condo for sale in "POWELL LANE" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2295769
    • Exterior Front
    • Kitchen
    • Dining Room
    • Dining Room
    • Master Bedroom
    • Master Bedroom
    • Master Bedroom
    • Bedroom
    • Bedroom
    • Dining Room
    • Living Room
    • Bathroom
    • Bathroom
    • Kitchen
    • Living Room
    • Living Room
    • Living Room
    • Living Room
    • Entrance Hall
    $875,000
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2295769
    Bedrooms:
    2
    Bathrooms:
    1
    Floor Area:
    1,030 sq. ft.
    Gastown Living at it's finest! Come and check out over 1,000 square feet of fully renovated open-concept beauty. Tons of space to enjoy! All brand new stainless steel appliances, washer & dryer and everything else 🙂 Centrally located, just steps to all of your favourite restaurants, shops and night spots! The building also boasts a rooftop deck with city, mountain and water view! Easy to show, Open Saturday 3-4:30PM. More details
    Listed by RE/MAX Select Properties
  • 608 168 POWELL Street in Vancouver: Downtown VE Condo for sale in "SMART" (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2298041

    Main Photo: 608 168 POWELL Street in Vancouver: Downtown VE Condo for sale in "SMART" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2298041
    $564,999
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2298041
    Bedrooms:
    1
    Bathrooms:
    1
    Floor Area:
    643 sq. ft.
    643 sq ft 1 bedroom spacious and modern boutique style building by Concord Pacific in Gastown. Built in 2009 this modern home has European style kitchen with stainless steel appliances and ample counter space. The home boasts spacious rooms and lots of light in the bedroom, as designed by the frosted glass separator. . This is a dream location for anyone taking public transit with bus and train being within walking distance, plus, SMART is also conveniently located close to shopping, restaurants, downtown & hip neighborhoods - Chinatown and Gastown! This home is an opportunity you don't want to miss. The building has gym, shared workshop, meeting room. Tenanted for 1,475 per month, perfect for investors. More details
    Listed by LeHomes Realty First
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Listing information last updated on August 20, 2018 at 03:18 AM (UTC)
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