The housing stock in the Dunbar area of Vancouver has undergone significant change in the past five years. Originally a working class neighbourhood with many quite modest homes surrounded by lovely gardens, it is now a neighbourhood that 99% of the people working in Vancouver cannot afford because the replacement homes are built to the maximum footprint and cost millions. Greenspace has been reduced. Included on this website are photos of many (not all) of the disappeared houses.
View Teardowns in the Dunbar area of Vancouver, BC in a larger map

Demolitions West of the Dunbar Community Centre

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Dunbar Not in Bloom

I first noticed this house many years ago because the front garden was part of the "Dunbar in Bloom" tour during Salmonberry Days. At that time, there were not many walled front gardens. This one was full of Cranes-bill geraniums waving in the breeze. I was struck by the beauty of the small garden. The mailbox sitting on the fence was a permanent contribution to "Dunbar in Bloom." Let's hope the owners took it with them. The house, with those large French doors which you can see in the background beyond the mailbox, was built in 1925 and demolished in November 2015. These photos were taken in March 2011 when it was sold.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Giants Marching In

An article entitled "Giants Marching In" in the Seattle Times of November 27, 2015 states that between 2012 and 2014, over 1,500 small houses were demolished to make way for larger ones in King County. Although this situation sounds similar to ours in Vancouver, there are differences, the number of the demolitions being one.

From the article:
I talked about this with Ballard-based real-estate agent Greg Stamolis, who works with spec builders both in acquiring properties for teardown and later selling the new home when it’s completed.
I asked Stamolis to profile the typical buyer, but other than having good incomes, he says it’s a little hard to generalize. Many are recent arrivals who’ve moved to the area for work, but it’s also common for buyers to already live in the neighborhood, only in a smaller property that they feel no longer meets their needs. Rather than undergo a complete remodel of their present house, they decide to purchase a larger new one.

Stamolis, who is a Seattle native and a Ballard resident, acknowledges these new houses are not always welcome additions to the block: “It can be hard for people who live in these older neighborhoods to see this kind of rapid change. When you have a 1920s neat, older bungalow, and then it’s torn down for a 3,000-square-foot house, it’s always an adjustment for the neighborhood. It kind of breaks the character of the neighborhood, which I understand. And it’s a disruption, because construction takes six months.”
But once the dust settles, he says, it doesn’t take long for things to go back to normal.
“After people meet the new neighbor, they are more comfortable. Very quickly, they become part of the neighborhood.”

The entire article is available here. The photos show that, in general, the state of the older small home being demolished in Seattle is in huge contrast to that of the well-kept and renovated house in Vancouver that is trashed.
Like Vancouver, Seattle is a city that attracts people who want to live there. Also like Vancouver, there are not enough "starter" houses. However, there are a few, at prices that would astound Vancouver residents. Here is an example of a "starter" in the Rainer Valley section of Seattle; the photos are taken six months apart. The run-down house had an extreme renovation, a significant part of it a do-it-yourself project by the intrepid owners.

And they made raised beds for vegetables!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

A bit of Dunbar History

On Saturday, November 28, the Dunbar Branch of the Vancouver Public Library celebrated its 65th anniversary. As part of the celebration, John Atkin led a 1 1/2 hour tour of a few blocks near the library. The first stop was on 29th Avenue just west of the library where there are two good examples of 1920's houses on the north side.

     These houses are well built with overhangs to catch the rain and  three coats of stucco. John said that in the 1920's a typical family living here would employ a staff person. The south side of the street was developed in the late 1930's. 
     Dunbar's most prominent building was built in 1910-11 as the Convent of the Sacred Heart, now St. George's Junior School. John praised the school for its careful restoration of the main stone building and of the brick power house. Dunbar's wide streets, wide boulevards, sidewalks, street trees, and set-backs are thanks to regulations adapted from 1922 bylaws of the municipality of Point Grey. These bylaws were intended to promote the value of the community, quality, and livability. 
     John then took us to see some lovely homes on West 26th Avenue, a two-block area between Dunbar Street and Chaldecott Park. I was inspired to do more investigation of that area. Unlike other blocks in the Dunbar area, the 3800 block of West 26th Avenue west of Dunbar has been a stable neighbourhood in recent years. On the north side the houses are generally large, and new ones would not be allowed to be much larger, so there is little incentive to demolish. One house was built in 1989 and another in 1997 but the rest were built between 1927 to 1930. Here are some examples of the lovely original houses that fortunately remain to be admired in their context:

The above photo shows a peak of the one new demolition, 3803 West 26th, that I have not mentioned yet. The original house was built in 1930 and perhaps an enlarged second storey was added. The house was large as you can see on these photos from 2012 when it was sold. (It was sold again in 2014.) The new construction may be for a larger house.

     On the south side of the 3800 block of West 26th Avenue, many of the houses were built in 1925 and one each in 1927 and 1928. There is only one replacement house, built in 1996. Many of the houses have been enlarged, so there is stability there as well.
     The 3600 and 3700 block have more variability, with two homes being readied for demolition and four Vancouver Specials, but a lot of those solid 1920's houses remain, many of which are renovated. Many blocks in the Dunbar area (and elsewhere) are a hodgepodge of Vancouver Specials, 1980's boxes, 21st century modern, empty imitation craftsman, or homes being prepared for demolition, with only a sprinkling of original houses. The number of originals (and renovated originals) on West 26th is something to treasure.

West 26th Avenue is a quiet street with majestic trees. However, Stongs is coming...