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Monday, February 26, 2024

Another new condo building proposed for Vancouver’s quickly-changing Chinatown

A development proposal for a small lot next to The Keefer Bar in Chinatown has surfaced.

The City of Vancouver has received a development permit application for a 50′ wide lot at 129 Keefer Street. The rectangular lot is located in between The Keefer Bar building, and a condo proposal at 105 Keefer Street by the Beedie Group. That proposal has faced challenges from community advocates and has been redesigned four times. The city is still accepting comments on the rezoning application.

The property at 129 Keefer Street was recently listed for sale by Form, as part of a package deal with 137 Keefer. In that original sales package, two nine-storey buildings were proposed, one each at 129 and 137 Keefer. 

The sales package says “the removal of the Georgia Viaducts, the construction of the new St. Pauls Hospital, and the completion of the Concord lands will further enhance the neighbourhood.”
The latest application says James Schouw and Associates has applied to build a 10-storey mixed-use building at 129 Keefer with commercial space on the ground and second floor, and 33 residential units on floors 3 through 10.
The building height will be approximately 88 feet, and there will be three levels of underground parking.
129 Keefer Street
Rendering showing how the two new buildings would slot around the existing “The Keefer” building. At this time, only 129 Keefer Street has applied to the city for a development permit.
129 and 137 Keefer Street
Screenshot from a sales package from Form, showing the properties at 129 and 137 Keefer Street.
129 and 137 Keefer Street
Architectural drawing of two new buildings at 129 and 137 Keefer Street in Vancouver’s Chinatown.
If the name James Schouw sounds familiar, the developer has been in the news recently. The Province newspaper reported February 16, 2017 that the B.C. Securities Commission found that Schouw had committed fraud in connection with the Artemisia project on Hornby Street.
Artemisia condos
Artemisia was later completed by Boffo.

That project was later taken over by Boffo Developments Ltd. Schouw is also known for developing the Grace and Iliad luxury condo developments. 

Chinatown is facing intense development pressure after it was rezoned by the city in 2011. The Chinatown Historic Area Height Review allows for taller buildings up to 90 feet, with the potential to rezone up to 120 feet.
137 Keefer Street
Rendering of possible development at 137 Keefer Street, which is not yet before the city.

The Keefer Block, 188 Keefer, BlueSky Chinatown, and Framework are all new condo developments that have been completed since increased building heights were allowed. 

Many community advocates say the new developments have displaced traditional small businesses frequented by low-income Chinatown seniors.
On Main Street, the popular Brickhouse bar and Jimi Hendrix Shrine is facing demolition for a 15-storey condo development by Bonnis Development Corporation.

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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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