Notorious SROs could be renovated and/or redeveloped, say city officials
After years of tussles with the owners of the Balmoral and Regent Hotels on the Downtown Eastside, the city has voted to approve expropriation of the properties, and pay the owners one dollar ($1) per building, in addition to $1,000 for the Regent Hotel pub lease.
The one dollar valuation for each of two hotels is the result of consultant reports commissioned by the city to determine the cost of renovating the two hotels and create social housing that meets today’s standards.
The city said in a statement “this extraordinary measure is being taken to bring the buildings into public ownership and create new low-income housing.”
The Balmoral Hotel was determined to be unsafe to occupy and was evacuated in June 2017, with more than 150 tenants rehoused through a partnership between the provincial government and the city. Subsequently, the Regent was also determined to be unsafe to occupy and was vacated and closed effective June 29, 2018. The properties have been vacant ever since.
In 2017, VICE News went inside the Regent and Balmoral hotels, exposing appalling conditions inside the properties — calling it “Vancouver’s most notorious housing block.”
City staff are in “active discussions with the provincial government” as well as federal partners, with options including renovation and/or redevelopment of the two properties. The Regent is located next to a newer condominium building called Sequel 138.
The city says attempts were made to purchase two hotels, based on assessed land value; however, they were unsuccessful.
City council also approved $350,000 for each building for security systems, additional hardware and on-site and mobile security patrols to ensure the buildings are secure against re-entry.
Council report (PDF, Nov. 6, 2019)