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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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  • 1011 289 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Strathcona Condo for sale in "The Edge" (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2830506

    1011 289 ALEXANDER Street Strathcona Vancouver V6A 4H6
    Main Photo: 1011 289 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Strathcona Condo for sale in "The Edge" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2830506
    $1,988,000
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2830506
    Bedrooms:
    1
    Bathrooms:
    2
    Floor Area:
    1,128 sq. ft.
    A MILLION DOLLAR VIEW! Enjoy it from your "GASTOWN" CORNER PENTHOUSE & your PRIVATE 612 SF ROOF DECK! Exceptional LIVE/WORK concrete building, "THE EDGE". Bright & airy spaces featuring 15 "ceilings & OPEN CONCEPT DESIGN. Cozy GAS FIREPLACE. Unwind in your generous PRIMARY BEDROOM & SPA-LIKE ENSUITE. The Kitchen with GAS STOVE & STAINLESS STEELE APPLIANCES welcome your cooking plans. Enormous open area (see floorplan) awaits your requirements. ARTIST'S STUDIO, perhaps, or your HOME BUSINESS or family needs. Rarely available amenities for creativity: MUSIC ROOM, POTTERY STUDIO WITH KILN, WOODWORK SHOP, DARK ROOM & MORE! And a GYM plus BIKE ROOM. GOOD STORAGE & 2 SECURE PARKING NEXT TO ELEVATOR. Call to view or for Open House Info. VIEW BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. PETS & RENTALS OK. More details
    Listed by Homelife Benchmark Titus Realty
  • 1006 289 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Strathcona Condo for sale (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2843249

    1006 289 ALEXANDER Street Strathcona Vancouver V6A 4H6
    Main Photo: 1006 289 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Strathcona Condo for sale (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2843249
    $1,050,000
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2843249
    Bedrooms:
    1
    Bathrooms:
    2
    Floor Area:
    1,057 sq. ft.
    Welcome to the Edge Building, an exceptional multipurpose loft building nestled on the edge of downtown. This stunning 1-bed, 2-bath loft has undergone a meticulous renovation in 2022 with sleek & modern finishes tied into the building's industrial design features. Upon entering, you'll note the 15-foot ceilings, which combined with the large windows & open layout, bathe the space in natural light. The enclosed bedroom on the upper level provides a serene space with a spa-like ensuite. Immerse yourself in panoramic views of the city skyline & ocean from your private balcony. Residents of the Edge Building have access to multiple amenities, including a gym, music room, metal/wood shop, & pottery studio. Plenty of in-unit storage & an underground parking stall. More details
    Listed by RE/MAX Select Properties
  • 312 626 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Strathcona Condo for sale in "626 ALEXANDER" (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2849352

    312 626 ALEXANDER Street Strathcona Vancouver V6A 1C9
    Main Photo: 312 626 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Strathcona Condo for sale in "626 ALEXANDER" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2849352
    $949,900
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2849352
    Bedrooms:
    2
    Bathrooms:
    3
    Floor Area:
    1,124 sq. ft.
    THE CITY'S BEST KEPT SECRET.. Highlights of a rare elevated TOWNHOME style offering: ROOFTOP. Entertain or greenthumb from dream 370ft privately hedged terrace w/water+natural gas+electrical, a true extension of living! City+Mtn views, sunrise-sunset. SPACE. Bright & airy elevated 2-storey w/9'6ft lofted ceilings. TOP CORNER home = 1 shared wall. Gorgeous 2 Bed+Flex nursery/office, 3 bath, generous storage! DESIGN. Clean lines+quality built. Custom kitchen inc/European cabinetry & integrated appliances, quartz. Premium eng hardwood. Designer lighting. Spa ensuite w/walk-in shower+floating vanity & more. AMENITIES. Oversized parking w/EV charge access, locker, bike room. Boutique 25 home community. LOCAL. Bike friendly route steps to Belgard Kitchen, breweries, short walk to Gastown! More details
    Listed by Keller Williams Elite Realty
  • 253 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Strathcona Condo for sale in "THE EDGE" (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2853675

    253 ALEXANDER Street Strathcona Vancouver V6A 1C2
    Main Photo: 253 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Strathcona Condo for sale in "THE EDGE" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2853675
    $595,000
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2853675
    Bathrooms:
    1
    Floor Area:
    645 sq. ft.
    Street-level live/work studio at The Edge. Railtown, near Vancouver's waterfront, is one of the most culturally and economically diverse neighbourhoods overflowing with history. This space has many options; live in and run your business, rent out or live where you do your craft with the amazing amenities this community offers. The common area includes a gym, multi-purpose room, metal shop, woodworking shop, pottery studio with kiln, photography lab & music room. Some of Vancouver’s best restaurants and cafés are steps away, including Railtown Café, JJ Bean, Ask For Luigi, Belgard Kitchen, and St Lawrence. Wander through Gastown's furniture and design shops, and enjoy easy access to the business district, and other historical landmarks. Easy to show. More details
    Listed by Stilhavn Real Estate Services
  • 210 626 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Strathcona Condo for sale (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2757633

    210 626 ALEXANDER Street Strathcona Vancouver V6A 1C9
    Main Photo: 210 626 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Strathcona Condo for sale (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2757633
    $515,000
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2757633
    Bedrooms:
    1
    Bathrooms:
    1
    Floor Area:
    570 sq. ft.
    A newer and funkier ongoing development in Vancouver - RAILTOWN - Complete with great boutique eating experiences, top end micro breweries, artsy shops all close by. Easy access to transit, bike rentals, to commute to work or use the many bike paths throughout the city. This one bed, one bath condo was built by Epix Developments and features a great open layout with 9' ceilings and engineered hardwood throughout. Your gourmet kitchen comes complete w top end European appliances including a gas range to go w large quartz countertop island with under bar seating. Lots of cupboard space, w dishwasher, microwave, fridge/freezer, washer/dryer in unit. Downstairs you have a storage locker and a separate bike room. Outside your door is an outdoor private courtyard complete w BBQ on your 2nd floor More details
    Listed by eXp Realty
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Data was last updated March 1, 2024 at 11:10 PM (UTC)
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