Members of the community didn't feel content to wait for the city-ordered statement of heritage significance for the Waldorf Hotel to materialize, so they've researched, compiled and submitted their own 72-page report to city hall.
"I just had this feeling there had to be something that I could do," said Jen Cook, who worked at the Nuba restaurant at the Waldorf until last summer and helped organize the rally in support of the Waldorf at city hall Jan. 15. "We just decided that this is a way that we could show wider community support outside of the question of it being just a bar for hipster kids, that there was cultural significance to the building even before it became what it is."
Cook, her friend and urban planner Holly Foxcroft and two researchers compiled a report with community input that highlights the architecture, dcor, variety of programming, celebrated supporters and acts and includes photos of the hotel from 1948 to present.
Cook wants Vancouverites to recognize how the variety of spaces within the hotel at 1489 East Hastings St., which includes smaller and larger rooms, a kitchen and hair salon, aided a cross-pollination of people and ideas to make it "irreplaceable."
"Some warehouse out in some industrial area isn't going to have the same amenities that hotel does," she said.
"If you look at the long list of events, it really did try to cater to a lot of different types of people and because of the variety of spaces they could do that," she added. "I would also encourage them to look at the history of the building itself and how far it's come and how the renovations in 2010 really did bring back its original feel and that there isn't anything like it in Vancouver. And that alone makes it worth saving."
Cook said the report was submitted to senior city heritage planner Marco D'Agostini.
"They're very receptive and surprised. Marco said that he couldn't remember any other time this had happened, that the community had come together and pulled together something like this."
City communications released a statement to the Courier from Brian Jackson, the city's general manager of planning and development, that echoed D'Agostini's reported remarks.
Leaseholder Waldorf Productions vacated the hotel last month because the property is being sold to developer Solterra Group and the production company couldn't afford the offered week-to-week lease.
City council voted unanimously Jan. 15 to slap a 120-day protection order on the Waldorf Hotel to prevent any demolition while its heritage value is being assessed.
The city expects to finalize the consultant who will develop the statement of significance by the end of the week. Completing this assessment is expected to take six weeks.
Council directed staff is to discuss the feasibility of building retention with the owner and purchaser and to report back to council before May 15.
Cook wants the Waldorf Hotel preserved with Waldorf Productions running it, but she would settle for the building to remain intact.
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