Townhouses Planned for the York Theatre Site

December 6, 2007
News from the arts world
Georgia Straight
By Jessica Werb

Townhouses planned for York site The new owners of the York Theatre on Commercial Drive plan to replace the theatre with eco-friendly townhouses.

Paul Phillips, president of EDG Homes Inc., which purchased the property last October as Vintage Development Corp. with business partners Small Favours Pictures Limited and 0805122 BC Limited, told the Straight he is not interested in preserving the theatre.

“Our interest is to develop an environmentally sensitive, LEED-certified townhome development there—a cutting-edge property in line with the EcoDensity of [Vancouver mayor] Mr. Sullivan’s dreams,” he said by phone. “It will be townhomes with attached garages, with roof gardens and low-toxicity materials.”

Phillips said he and his partners will submit their plans to the city within the next week or two, and expect development to begin in May or June this year.

Members of Vancouver’s arts community, led by Tom Durrie, the former general manager of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, have been campaigning to save the York Theatre since last fall. They now hope to find a way to purchase the property from the developers. “The idea is to buy time,” Durrie said.

Roger Chilton, chair of the Downtown Vancouver Association’s arts and culture committee and part of the campaign to save the theatre, told the Straight he’s confident someone will step forward with the necessary funds.

“Whoever ties up the capital wouldn’t lose money,” Chilton said, “but they’d make a huge contribution to the community holding their capital in this investment, which they could always resell.”

Phillips is not completely averse to the idea of selling his recently acquired property. “We’re businessmen and the property’s always for sale, I guess, at the right price,” he said.