Signs of change are everywhere in Gastown and the Downtown East Side these days – most notably the Woodward’s tower, rising above it all. But the scaffolding has just dropped away from another development nearby, revealing what will undoubtedly be one of the heritage gems of the neighbourhood – the Flack Block.
This restoration and discreet addition at the corner of Cambie and Hastings, across from Victory Square, is another of Robert Fung’s projects by the Salient Group. One of the first to see the potential of a languishing Gastown, he is currently transforming the Alhambra Block and Mews at Maple Tree Square. But the Flack may be the project with the greatest architectural merit, though it had been badly treated over the years.
Designed by Vancouver architect William Blackmore, it was built during the Klondike boom in 1898 for about $100,000 – a substantial amount back then – and reflected the commercial optimism of the time. The design is Richardsonian Romanesque, with a remarkable entrance worthy of a heritage award all on its own:
Acton Ostry are the architects. Says Mark Ostry:
The project was incredibly challenging, from convincing the City Surveyor and Engineering Department to permit us to reuse and restore the areaways under the sidewalk, to restoring stone work, to adding a new floor on the roof. As you know, the ground floor and public realm were butchered over the years to the point of losing all of its original character and meaning on the street. When Money Mart vacates, we’ll be able to complete the project and restore the integrity to the urban enclosure and backdrop to Victory Square.
Robert Fung also notes that Joel Solomon’s groups, Tides and Renewal, will be the office tenants. Altogether, a very nice package.