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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Latest Brickhouse proposal pays tribute to Hogan’s Alley

A revised proposal to redevelop the former Brickhouse bar and adjacent lot at Main and Union heads to a public hearing next month, with plans to commemorate Hogan’s Alley.

Bonnis Properties has been working to get the site redeveloped for years, and the project heads to public hearing on February 9, 2021. It’s now known as Main & Union, and the height has been reduced, from 16 to 11 storeys. The architect remains the same, Studio One Architecture.

There will be 19 social housing units on levels two and three, and 75 strata condominiums on levels four to 11. There will be four levels of underground parking with 67 parking space and 195 bicycle spaces.

Rendering of Main & Union building
Rendering of Main & Union building. Credit: Studio One Architecture

In addition, the social housing indoor and outdoor amenity spaces have been expanded, although the project still has a so-called “poor door” — a separate entrance and lobby for social housing residents from the strata residents.

Over 30 per cent of the strata units will be two bedrooms or larger.

Built like a Brickhouse

Most Vancouverites know the project site as the location of the Brickhouse, an iconic bar on Main Street. The building was built at the turn of the century, and renovated in the mid-1960s. It has served as a popular watering hole for decades. Although it will be demolished, the developer plans to save elements of the façade and incorporate them into the design of the new ground floor retail units, which will feature large overhead doors.

Brickhouse Main Street demolished
Elements of the façade of the Brickhouse bar will be incorporated into the new design. Credit: Studio One Architecture

Tribute to Hogan’s Alley and Vancouver’s Black community

The development site was part of Hogan’s Alley, a popular neighbourhood for Black Canadians at the turn of the century, many of whom worked as porters at the nearby Great Northern Railway Station at Terminal and Main.

At its height in the 1940s, the black population in Strathcona was approximately 800 people, according to Heritage Vancouver.

In the 1960s, much of the neighbourhood was demolished to make way for the Georgia Street viaduct project, which was meant to be the first phase of a freeway network connecting Highway 1 to downtown Vancouver. The project was never fully completed due to massive community protests led by Chinatown and Strathcona residents, but the viaduct still stands today.

Part of the development site, now a parking lot, was once home to Vie’s Chicken and Steak House, as explained in this video from Black Strathcona.

It’s well known that the grandmother of musician Jimi Hendrix — Nora Hendrix — worked at Vie’s Chicken and Steak House for many years.

207 Union Street Jimi Hendrix shrine
The Jimi Hendrix shrine existing on the site. Credit: Studio One Architecture

Given the site’s rich history, a small building on the eastern edge served as an unofficial Jimi Hendrix Shrine for decades.

It will be demolished to make way for the development, but elements of its façade will be incorporated into a retail unit on the corner of Union Street and the laneway.

The developer has struck a “right of first refusal” agreement with the Hogan’s Alley Society, with the intention of this retail unit supporting Black-owned businesses. The team is also working with the descendants of Vie Moore to commemorate the area’s history and activate the laneway.

Hogan's Alley retail space
Rendering of Hogan’s Alley retail space. Credit: Studio One Architecture

To learn more about the development, visit mainandunion.ca 


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Peter Meiszner
Peter Meiszner
Peter Meiszner is an experienced journalist and media relations professional, based in Vancouver. As founder of urbanYVR.com, he has been reporting on urban development across the Lower Mainland since 2016, and has also served as vice-chair of the Gastown Historic Area Planning Committee. In October 2022, he was elected to Vancouver city council and is no longer actively reporting for urbanYVR.

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