East Hastings and Vernon Drive
Possibilities for development at irregularly-shaped Flatiron sites like the one at East Hastings and Vernon. Credit: City of Vancouver

The City of Vancouver is preparing urban design guidelines to guide development along East Hastings Street in the Downtown Eastside.

A Downtown Eastside local area plan was approved several years ago, determining building heights along major corridors in the neighbourhood.

The guidelines for urban design will influence how new buildings along East Hastings and in the Kiwassa neighbourhood — west of the rail tracks — will look.

Guidelines will address building shape, architectural features, heritage compatibility and the development of triangular flatiron sites, such as the parcel at East Hastings and Vernon Drive.

Area map
Map showing the Hastings Centre, Hastings East and Kiwassa areas, which will all be impacted by the plan. Credit: City of Vancouver

The most significant change to the area will be the development of a new mixed-use neighbourhood west of East Hastings Street and Clark Drive.

The area will include new residential uses, social housing, and locally-serving retail and services.

Building heights will increase from west to east along Hastings, with the tallest structures of up to 150′ (15 storeys) around Vernon Drive and East Hastings.

East Hastings Hawks to Clark
Rendering of potential development along East Hastings Street, from Hawks to Clark Drive. Credit: City of Vancouver
East Hastings Street and Hawks Avenue
East Hastings Street and Hawks Avenue, looking east. Credit: City of Vancouver
Hastings and Main
East Hastings and Main, looking west towards downtown Vancouver. Note the infill on Main Street. Credit: City of Vancouver

Any rezonings will need to include 20 to 30 per cent social housing, and will need to reinforce the heritage character with narrow building frontages, varying heights and appropriate materials.

The city wants the architecture to be “contemporary, yet well-blended with the heritage character.” Mimicking of heritage styles, as well as fa├žade-only retention, will be discouraged.

Hastings Kiwassa material pallette
The city is proposing materials and building characteristics that complement the neighbourhood’s industrial character. Credit: City of Vancouver

Improvements to streets and sidewalks are also proposed, including:

  • new public art, parklets and plazas
  • new public open space at the triangular flatiron sites at East Hastings and Vernon Dr.
  • an observation deck and rest areas on the Hastings Viaduct over the railroad, with views to the mountains
  • more opportunities for patios and benches along Hastings Street
  • more street trees, including a double-row if possible
  • wider sidewalks, particularly at transit stops

Several developers have already purchased property in the area, including Onni (Brave Bull/Yolks site at Hastings and Clark); Solterra (Waldorf Hotel); and Wall Financial (Strathcona Village 280-unit condominium development, nearly complete and sold out).

Chip Wilson’s family’s company, Low Tide Properties, also owns several buildings in the 800-block East Hastings.

The company purchased 10 lots between 828-868 East Hastings for $7.25 million in 2012, and spent $10.7 million on properties between 855-895 East Hastings in 2013. One of the buildings purchased is currently home to Strathcona Beer Company.