Woodward's Redevelopment: Looking Forward, Looking Back

The "Woodward's" redevelopment keeps impressing me, despite reservations I have as to its impact on the area. Usually, as developments of this scale near completion, the goals set out and aspirations laid down at the outset slowly fall off the table and become forgotten. That planned park gets a lower landscaping budget. The aspired-to number of non-market housing units become 'financially unfeasible'. Everything I hear of the Woodward's redevelopment reinforces my initial support for the project, even as it towers over the DTES.

While I believe it is simply too big, and that the introduction of hundreds of affluent residents (and a student culture) will absolutely change the area in many ways, I can't help but be impressed.

A few weeks ago, Frances Bula toured the site, and commented on the top floor:

Unlike almost every other building in town, the top floor hasn’t been reserved for penthouses. Instead, it’s going to be a gym on one side and a roof garden on the other for everyone in the building to use. I predict it will be one of the most sought-after party spots in years to come.

Now, the Globe and Mail has run a story on the huge photograph (9m x 15m) that will hang in the atrium.

The image is a re-creation of the 1971 Gastown riot, showing Vancouver police rounding up protesters at the intersection of Abbott and Cordova. It's good to see that at least one developer is interested in brave public art that actually has something to say, especially about the neighbourhood in which they are erecting their buildings.

I think this development would serve as an excellent source of inspiration for developments elsewhere in the city... just not further development in the DTES.