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Woodward’s Department Store

Woodward's Department StoreVancouver, British Columbia

Empty for several years and regarded as the key to revitalizing Vancouver’s troubled Eastside, the City purchased the Woodward’s Department Store (1903-1908) from the provincial government in 2003 and immediately sought submissions for its redevelopment. Although a designated heritage building, the Request for Proposals did not contain specific requirements for its retention, stating only that proposals should “[take] advantage of heritage opportunities” while providing a minimum of 100 social housing units. By mid-2004, three finalists had been chosen.

From a heritage perspective, the Concert/Holborn proposal, which was publicly endorsed by Heritage Vancouver, most respected the historic fabric and character of the building and was most sensitive to the integrity of the low-to-mid rise neighbourhood. After public consultation, however, the City adopted the Westbank Projects proposal, which calls for minimal retention of the architectural features, the “deconstruction” of the historic Hastings Street frontage and the addition of a point tower that will dominate the streetscape and eclipse Woodward’s symbolic “W” as the new de facto landmark.

The City is not expected to finalize its deal with Westbank until the summer, which gives the public more time to influence the final redevelopment design of this historically significant landmark.