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Friday, March 1, 2024

Iconic Gabriola House mansion to be converted into rental apartments

One of Vancouver’s oldest buildings, the Gabriola Mansion on Davie Street, will soon be transformed into rental apartments and a new, four-unit townhouse building.

The iconic heritage building was built between 1900 to 1901 by B.T. Rogers, the founder of the B.C. Sugar Refinery, which still stands on Powell Street in Strathcona.

The mansion was a family residence up until 1924, when it was converted into apartments. In the late 1970s, it was converted yet again – this time, into Hy’s Restaurant. The restaurant changed to Macaroni Grill in 1994 and operated for over a decade before closing. The property has been vacant since.

In 2015, it was sold to Nevin Sangha of Carrera Management Corporation for $6.72 million. The mansion is one of only a few remaining in the West End, where the streets used to be lined with similar large homes, although the Gabriola Mansion was by far the most elaborate.

Carrera Management Corporation and architects Akenman Marchand plan to covert the mansion into 17 market rental units, made up of a mix of studios, one bedroom units and two bedroom units.

On the southeast corner of the property overlooking the garden, a new townhouse building will be constructed, containing four three-bedroom townhomes.

Gabriola House Mansion apartments
The new townhouse building to be constructed on the property, overlooking the garden. Credit: Ankenman Marchand

The architects plan to preserve and restore heritage features of the mansion through the conversion, including:

  • Preserve the landscaping, site elements, and entrances that front Davie and Nicola street (with the exception of the southwest driveway entrance that will be converted to a private outdoor space)
  • Preserve all of the mansion’s existing and reinstated exterior character-defining elements, such as the decorative parapets on all flat roofs that match the balustrades at the main entry porch, consistent double hung window dormer patterns, and all stain glass windows
  • Preserve new additions that correspond to the original heritage design, such as the new window openings along the basement and north side, the new northwest addition, and the new dormer roof in the attic.
  • Preserve all significant interior heritage features, in particular, areas open to the public, such as the main entry hall assembly elements, the existing stone fireplace, the grand staircase, and the amenity billiards room

Architects Akenman Marchand add: “This is one of the very few remaining significant landmark heritage buildings located in the West End. This proposal will ensure the building and grounds are restored to their original splendour and optimize the buildings use. The proposed improvements and preserved interior character-defining elements will become property for perpetuity.”

Historic illustration of the mansion from Heritage Vancouver.

Interestingly, the website ghostsofvancouver.com alleges several spooky incidents have occurred on the property over the years, including levitating cutlery in the restaurant and the ghost of a young man.

Whatever the story, it will be pretty cool for future tenants to say, “I live at the mansion.”

Public comments on the rezoning application are open until July 30, 2017 and can be submitted online here.

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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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  1. I understand in today’s housing market that this needed to happen, having said that…..it makes me sad. I went there when it was Hy’s and when it was the Macaroni Grill and no I’m not 100. It’s one of the few landmarks left in Van. Too bad.

    • I agree, I would like to see it used as a restaurant, cultural centre or museum. Something where everyone can at least get to go inside and experience it. There is a massive need for rental apartments, no doubt, but I wonder how affordable they will be.

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