From the Globe and Mail:
FRANCES BULA AND MARSHA LEDERMAN
The closing of Vancouver’s Waldorf Hotel – which went from working-class hangout to a key city arts hub two years ago – spawned an online memorial Wednesday over the city’s inability to preserve interesting cultural spaces in the face of rampant condo development.
Dismayed responses from City Hall, major city artists and random patrons swirled on the Internet after the hotel’s young operators announced they would have to close their doors Jan. 20 because the hotel has been sold to the Solterra Group of Companies, a boutique condo developer.
Mayor Gregor Robertson, who issued a statement but did not give any interviews, said: “The Waldorf closing is a big loss to Vancouver’s growing creative community … [The] city is exploring ways to support the Waldorf continuing as one of Vancouver’s most unique and vibrant cultural spaces.”
The 1947 hotel is not on the city’s heritage register, but the land is zoned industrial, which gives the city considerable bargaining power with any developer who comes in wanting a rezoning to build condos.
The modernist-style hotel, with a restored Tiki lounge, two nightclubs and a restaurant, had generated an eclectic mix of activities since it opened in October of 2010, operating almost like a giant arts community centre.
There were concerts by local performers such as Grimes, Black Mountain and the Japandroids, other shows by leading arts figures such as Douglas Coupland and photographer Rodney Graham, a gallery, food-truck festivals, arts-group gatherings and more.
The hotel operators’ news release commented bitterly on the fact they had helped create the conditions for developer interest.
“The irony that the Waldorf was taken over by a condo developer in the very area we helped reinvigorate is obvious to anyone,” entertainment director Thomas Anselmi said in the release. The other hotel operators are Ernesto Gomez, Daniel Sazio and Scott Cohen.
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