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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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  • 614 289 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Strathcona Condo for sale in "The Edge" (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2623264

    614 289 ALEXANDER Street Strathcona Vancouver V6A 4H6
    Main Photo: 614 289 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Strathcona Condo for sale in "The Edge" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2623264
    • Photo 1: 614 289 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Strathcona Condo for sale in "The Edge" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2623264
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    • Photo 38: 614 289 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Strathcona Condo for sale in "The Edge" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2623264
    • Photo 39: 614 289 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Strathcona Condo for sale in "The Edge" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2623264
    • Photo 40: 614 289 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Strathcona Condo for sale in "The Edge" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2623264
    $998,000
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2623264
    Bedrooms:
    1
    Bathrooms:
    2
    Floor Area:
    1,082 sq. ft.
    Welcome to The Edge Lofts, a 165-unit, 11 storey Artist Live/Work bldg constructed of reinforced concrete & completed in 1999. This is one of the most sought after & desirable buildings located between Gastown & Railtown. SE corner suite is filled w/ natural light & windows on 2 sides. This city home has a rarely available oversized plan, feat. 1 bed+den (perfect home office space), 2 baths & 1082 sq ft double height loft feat. extensive custom built-ins, polished concrete floors, updated baths & kitchen provides a warm & inviting space w/ modern touches. Convenient powder on main & 4 ensuite up in large loft w/ addt'l built-in storage & views looking out the 16’ ceiling windows. Cozy gas fireplace, large-covered balcony w/ East views all the way to Bby Mtn makes this a cozy place to shack up for the Winter. Key feat. of the Edge is one-of-a kind 7000 sq ft amenities space w/ woodworking studio, metal shop, gym, band room, pottery & more. Inv. property, pied-a-terre or office or combo! OPENS: Oct 17 12-2p More details
    Listed by RE/MAX Select Properties
  • 414 289 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Strathcona Condo for sale in "The Edge" (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2619293

    414 289 ALEXANDER Street Strathcona Vancouver V6A 1C2
    Main Photo: 414 289 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Strathcona Condo for sale in "The Edge" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2619293
    • Photo 1: 414 289 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Strathcona Condo for sale in "The Edge" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2619293
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    • Photo 27: 414 289 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Strathcona Condo for sale in "The Edge" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2619293
    $839,900
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2619293
    Bedrooms:
    1
    Bathrooms:
    2
    Floor Area:
    889 sq. ft.
    Oversized 1 bedroom, 1.5 bath loft with 16 ft ceilings and plenty of natural light at ""The Edge"" Work from home? This open concept plan offers enough space for multiple workspace variations. Need a break? Explore your creative side with over 7000 sf amenities offering wood and metal shop, pottery and recording studio, printing press and dark room and fitness centre. Fresh air? Step onto your south/west facing balcony that allows BBQ. Enjoy hosting? Eat in kitchen allows for larger dining area or island, guests will surely enjoy the polished concrete floors, soaring windows and industrial modern loft style. Ample storage, natural gas fireplace/stove and much more. 1 parking. You wont find better value at the Edge or in Railtown! More details
    Listed by Engel & Volkers Vancouver
  • 201 626 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Strathcona Condo for sale in "626 Alexander" (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2607527

    201 626 ALEXANDER Street Strathcona Vancouver V6A 1C9
    Main Photo: 201 626 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Strathcona Condo for sale in "626 Alexander" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2607527
    • Photo 1: 201 626 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Strathcona Condo for sale in "626 Alexander" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2607527
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    • Photo 8: 201 626 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Strathcona Condo for sale in "626 Alexander" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2607527
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    • Photo 27: 201 626 ALEXANDER Street in Vancouver: Strathcona Condo for sale in "626 Alexander" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2607527
    $499,000
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2607527
    Bedrooms:
    1
    Bathrooms:
    1
    Floor Area:
    565 sq. ft.
    PRICE IMPROVEMENT! Great opportunity to purchase a clean, freshly painted 1 bed and flex END UNIT with PATIO at 626 Alexander St in the historic Railtown District! This boutique building has a lovely common interior courtyard with BBQ and dining table, storage lockers, and is situated on the bike route! Unit #201 features beautiful engineered hardwood floors, a gourmet kitchen with high-end European appliances, quartz countertops, gas range, and plenty of storage! The high-end bathroom boasts a walk-in shower, floating under lit vanity, and top of the line faucets. Close to hip eateries, brew pubs and coffee shops! Steps to Aritzia, Herschel and the Design District! Quick possession possible! Permit parking out front! Pets and Rentals allowed (3 night min). *virtually staged More details
    Listed by Engel & Volkers Vancouver
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Data was last updated October 16, 2021 at 04:40 AM (UTC)
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