Friday 29 March 2013

Boomer Migration

The Boomer generation is the wealthiest generation in Canadian history. And while some are holding on to their large two-story homes in the suburbs a faction of the Boomer brigade are now fording a different route, away from the bridges and tunnels and back into the city.

The Boomers are downsizing, buying single level homes and reinventing themselves in the urban landscape. They are spreading their fortunes between their family, travel and entertainment. Suburban life has little to offer culturally, so the grey-hairs are now taking another look at the urban sprawl.

Main Street, often viewed as the Mecca of cool in Vancouver, is seeing a new demographic moving into the surrounding midrises. Seniors who want to reignite their passions, lower their carbon footprint and be closer to the action are buying homes in and around the Broadway and Main intersection. Mixing with the trendsetters and young professionals, Boomers now have the time, money and desire to enjoy the city life offered to those in the pulse.

Art is a major pull. With the number of galleries along and around Main, Boomers can indulge their interest in the visual arts. They are starting collections, taking classes at Emily Carr and paying closer attention to the public art scene. We're talking about YOU, Main St. Poodle.

They are also becoming more involved with how they would like their communities to be decorated. Seniors are taking leading roles in community centres and on powerful boards around that city that are shaping the contemporary urban aesthetic.

The entertainment industry is also seeing a revival. The Bard tents are one of the most popular summer draws for Boomers, but live music venues are seeing an increase as well. Seniors are taking a renewed interest in the musical outputs of local musicians. They may not be hitting the downtown club scene, but they are taking in smaller shows like those offered on the Main Street strip.

And have you spent anytime in the coffee shops lately. Every second table has a Boomer enjoying a cup of the dark stuff. With limited time constraints, Boomers have gravitated to the tablet market, bringing their web browsing to the caf├ęs.

After a lifetime of cooking for themselves, seniors are also expanding their culinary palates. The Main Street restaurant scene is one of the most diverse in the city. Eateries like Burgoo offer a wide selection of menu options for the dine-out enthusiast.

Then there is the issue of the car. Living around Main Street offers residents the chance to free themselves of the burden of owning an automobile. Walking is the main form of transportation. Add an excellent, ever-expanding public transport system to the mix and the need for a vehicle becomes obsolete.

The bike is the new mode for Boomers looking to stay healthy. With the increase in bike lanes, Boomers can feel safe when they ride to and from their social meetings. And growing up under the tutelage of David Susuki, Boomers are keenly aware of the environmental benefits of choosing a two-wheeled transporter over a four-wheel.

Evan Living offers the perfect modern hideaway for this generation. With security features, art inspired living spaces, bike storage and the proximity to the urban pulse; Evan is the next destination for seniors looking to reignite their urban aspirations

Thursday 21 March 2013

Main Street's Fox Theatre Trades XXX Rating For Culture Curators

It takes a bit of dirt to make a genuine article.

A few months back, we posted a blog on the struggles of the Waldorf Production team of Tom Anselmi, Ernesto Gomez and Danny Fazio. After spending years transforming the Waldorf Hotel into a cultural hub of live acts, gallery expositions and a working studio space, the trio saw their passion project shut down, due to problems with the lease. The news was a hard blow to the local arts community and the Vancouver cultural scene.

The Waldorf developers received a massive outpouring of support from Vancouverites and a number of petitions were brought forward in the hopes of delaying plans for a redevelopment project. Unfortunately, these landed on deaf ears and the Hastings tiki bar and hotel was closed.

Since the decision was finalized, the development team has been searching for an alternative venue for resurrecting their cultural endeavors.

Enter the Fox Theatre on Main Street.

For those of you who may not have heard of this venue, the Fox Theatre is a cinema that deals exclusively with adult content. It has been active since the early 80s, showing hard and softcore 35mm pornography films.

The neighbourhood around the theatre has gone through a number of changes in the last thirty years and the sleazier clientele that once frequented the Mt. Pleasant area have long since moved on. But the Fox Theatre has remained, blending in with the trendy boutiques, coffee shops and art galleries that now line Main Street. Unfortunately, for the Fox owners, the Internet has made XXX moviehouses completely unnecessary and one of the last remaining pornography cinemas is now throwing in the…towel.

A bidding war erupted over the development rights, with two major players competing for the chance to reopen the theatre; on one side the Waldorf team, on the other, a group of developers from the reawakened Rickshaw Theatre. Instead of upping the price on the lease, the two teams have decided to take on the project as a partnership.

The Rickshaw team, under the leadership of David Duprey, bring to the table the experience of transforming an aging theatre into a highly successful live music setting. The Rickshaw was once exclusively a Kung-Fu theatre, but now host’s acts like the Japandroids, Handsome Furs and Beach House. Duprey and his team created an open floor by removing the first fifteen rows of seats. They also secured a liquor license and made a forgotten theatre cool again.

If the two sides plan to pull off a similar feat at the Fox Theatre, someone is going to have to do some serious scrubbing. Duprey has already gone on record about the uncomfortable cleanup task. "There's been some stuff going on there ...I'm thinking napalm might be the solution." But jokes aside, the theatre will need a good sanitization, from the front of house to the back hallways.

 Another hurdle will be the liquor license. It took the Rickshaw 15 months to secure a license. The licensing will also determine the nature of the venue itself; be it event based, or recorded music, similar to the clubs on Granville. The events option could include comedy, dance and music performances. 

For the Waldorf team, the Fox venue offers a much more accessible location for cultural performances. As noted in previous posts, Main Street is the new artistic hub for Vancouver, so it is only fitting that the Waldorf team gravitate towards the Main and Broadway area. They will also experience an increase in walk-up traffic; the Fox is central to Vancouver's live venue frequenting demographic.

Again, depending on the licenses, the Waldorf crew could once again be hosting multimedia crossover events by the late fall of this year. Here's hoping the tiki team is able to use their creative connections for cultural good.

The Fox will officially stop showing adult content on August 1st, at which time the lease will pass to the Wal/Rick team.

We look forward to welcoming them to the ever-expanding artistic community in and around South Main

Wednesday 20 March 2013

Back To 1985

Ah, to remember 1985. It is impossible to look back on the mid eighties without a twinge of nostalgia for some, or ironic amusement for others.

1985 gave us Marty McFly and his time-travelling Delorean.

Going back to 1985, we had New Coke, neon clothes, and Wayne Gretzky smashing every NHL record.

1985 gave us the chart-topping Careless Whispers (without which we wouldn't have the Sexy Sax Man today).

1985 was the year Bryan Adams broke. And new wave. It was a time when Hudson Bay mannikins sported colourful mohawks, officially announcing the end of the punk rock movement.

In Vancouver, on March 21st, 1985, almost 18 years ago today, Rick Hansen set out on his quest to circumnavigate the world by wheelchair. 26 months later he would return, his mission a success.

The current Cambie Bridge was opened. The Skytrain too. An Expo was looming, and the city was excited.

But what is really so special about 1985?

According to the Bank of Canada's Inflation Calculator, prices have doubled since June, 1985.

In 1985.5, one dollar had the buying power of exactly two dollars today.

Going back to 1985 makes for an easy benchmark of comparison.

If you could join Marty McFly in his Delorean, you could make some easy money reselling O'Henry bars for a 75 cent profit, doubling their value.

Or better yet, you could buy an ounce of gold for $426, and that would be worth $1650 today, almost four times its value.

However, there would be no better investment than Vancouver real estate.

In 1985, the average price of a condo was roughly $150,000. A detached home, a mere $170,000 or so. Today the same home would cost well over $1 million.

If you could go back in time, to 1985, you would stand to grow your investment 6 to 7 times over, buying the right property. There are few stocks out there that can give you that kind of return. And weathering, and even thriving after, the economic collapse in 2008, Vancouver real estate has proved itself to be a sure winner.

Doing the math, even if the cost of living has doubled in Vancouver, a piece of real estate has brought in profits three to four times that. That's pure profit.

Time goes by faster the older you get. There are many Vancouverites who can probably remember their first trip on the Expo Line like it was yesterday. It will be the same for you one day. While the cost of living continues on its march, your hair will grey and your family will grow and your salary will reflect your experience. Every year, you will wish you bought in sooner.

Interest rates are at an all-time low. Evan has homes for under $300,000. With Marty McFly as our guide, they could very well be worth six times that, in another short 18 years.

Monday 11 March 2013

Character vs. Modern Luxury

A Kitsilano character home will always contain a certain amount of architectural charm. A retro tower will have the 50s colour scheme you wish your furniture could reflect. A West End condo will have a hard wood floor with the worn look of an ice surface after a family skate. These are all sought after traits in the Vancouver housing market, for those looking to buy a pre-loved home. But should vintage aesthetics be placed higher than the merits of modern design?

Typically, the artist's villa is a home where nostalgia inspires contemporary output. Faded kitchen tiles and cracked molding frames shape a space conducive to creating works of art that reflect twentieth century ideals and tastes.

But what about practicality? Archaic construction practices make owning a character residence more of a pain than an inspiration.

In the West End, older suites traditionally contain low ceilings. The lower the ceiling, the less natural light is allowed to enter the room. There are beautiful older apartments downtown, but most are heavily dependent on artificial lighting. 

Any home built more than fifty years ago is also bound to have plumbing issues. From broken pipes to low water pressure, modern plumbing demands are taxing on older water systems. Floods in units above can ruin homes below. Pipes that leak or burst between walls can cost thousands to replace and create months of turmoil for owners looking to continue their daily living routines.

The plumbing advances in modern homes, drastically limits the chance of leaks. Water systems are now able to supply even pressure levels to an entire complex.

Older homes often include appliances that fit the time period of their construction. With rounded features, painted steel and ancient electrical wiring, these antiques can be more of a danger than an asset in the kitchen.

Single pane windows, common in many older suites, are another drawback. Thin windows increase heat loss and decrease protection from exterior noise pollution. The frames might shout nostalgia, but their functionality is limited.

Then there's the parking issue. Many character homes are reliant on street parking, which can be a major problem in places like Kits and the West End.
Evan Living provides controlled underground parking with secured entry gate, ample lighting and a closed circuit camera security system. You will always find parking in a safe environment. 

Evan’s thick concrete walls ensure you will never be disturbed by the noise of a neighbour. The high ceilings are standard and perfect for light entry. The plumbing is state-of-the-art, the appliances stainless steel and the windows are glazed and operable. The other standard amenities are too long to list in this blog, but feel free to review them on this handy PDF.

Still craving a certain nostalgic touch? Head to Vancouver Architectural Antiques Ltd., at 2403 Main Street; literally, a five minute walk from Evan. Let your lamp inspire you, while living in a space designed for modern luxury.

Monday 4 March 2013

A Saturday Afternoon With The Kids

Parents living at Evan are going to love the neighbourhood.

Here are a few of the places that are great to take kids on a weekend (or any day) outing - walking south.

At Mount Pleasant Community Centre every day between 10:15 and 12:15 (except Sunday) they have a playroom for tots and toddlers. It's a colourful adventure land of cars, springboards, trikes, and slides. For birthday parties, they even bust out the bouncy castles and balloons.

Once you're in there sign up for a monthly gym pass in the new facilities (they also have dance and yoga classes you can do with the little guys) and get yourself a library card. In the back section there's an extensive selection of books for all ages, comic books, and a reading/play area where you can enjoy some quiet time reading to your kids on a rainy day. Chances are if you start reading Batman to your guys you'll draw quite a crowd of other interested kids by the time Gotham's saved.

If you need fuel, there is no shortage of excellent coffee shops in the area. 

It's a little tough to get a stroller in Rx Comics, with their extensive collection of books and comics, but leave it on the sidewalk (it's Mount Pleasant, it will be safe) and let the little ones peruse the lower shelf where are the children's comics are kept. Get them started on the easy-to-read and none-too-violent Avengers and My Little Pony.

For slightly older guys, check out Pulp Fiction just up the street. There's a great selection of new and used books and interesting graphic novels. It's perfect for when they're ready to trade in Tony Stark for the Walking Dead.

Dude Chilling Park (as Google likes to call it) is your next easy stop. It's the closest big park to Evan, and yes it does have a dude chilling. You can get access to the Mount Pleasant school facilities here too, so that's twice the swings and slides to play on. To sign the official campaign to have Guelph Park renamed by its much hipper title, click here.

Kingsgate Mall, one block away, is a good place to stock up on supplies and have some halfling fun.

Buy Low's there for some of the best priced meat and fish in the city (and a rare place to get delicious steelhead trout - better than salmon) as well as fresh wild sockeye - Safeway is all frozen.

The BC Liquor Store in the mall has some excellent well-priced wines from around the would and a sizeable scotch selection. It's the second largest liquor store in BC, so if you can't find it there, go to Cambie, just fifteen minutes away, for the biggest. 
Lely's Books is a toy store in Kingsgate that is well stocked for children on rainy days. There is a fully setup train set that the kids can play with for hours. 

Speckled throughout the mall are also coin operated rides that kids love, such as racecars, trains and elephants. The dollar store has one if the few places in Vancouver you can still get helium balloons (sorry scientists!!) and Santa makes his East Van appearance here in December. The whole place is a playground for kids.

Just up the street is another huge park. RobsonPark has swings and slides, lots of places for pooch to play, fountains and splash pools in the summertime, and tennis courts to run free in with hockey sticks and balls.

Across the street is a consignment kids accessory store: Wee Ones Reruns. It's a great place to get a new or previously loved stroller, or high chairs, toys, clothes, and what have you.

For more practical shopping, up Main Street are several more children’s consignment clothing stores for excellent value on sharp outfits. Finally, be sure to stop off at the Granville Island Toy Company before you make your trip back home to Evan.

Whether you're a weekend dad, a Big Brother, or even a grandparent, the area around Evan has plenty of places to enjoy with kids on a Saturday afternoon.

This is just a sample of what you can do walking up the hill (south). Next week we'll talk about all the fun things you'll find heading down north towards the mountains.