Construction has reached completion on a new mixed-use building in one of the most troubled city blocks in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) neighbourhood.
Residents have begun to move into the Olivia Skye building at 41 East Hastings, which has 198 mixed-income homes including 120 units of social housing and 78 units of low-end-of market rental housing. The site was previously the home of the United We Can bottle depot, which relocated to a City-owned site in the False Creek Flats in 2014.
While social housing projects are common in the area, the project’s incorporation of rental homes makes the building a unique development in the Downtown Eastside.
According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the market rental rates are some of the lowest in the downtown Vancouver peninsula, especially for a new building.
Young professionals can save hundreds of dollars on their monthly rent, if they are willing to live in the Downtown Eastside.
For instance, some of the building’s studio units and one-bedroom units are priced at $1,250 and $1,561, respectively, and with these rates, these units are about $300 to $600 cheaper than similar units in Gastown, Coal Harbour, and the West End.
The maximum average rents has been set at $1,242 for a studio unit and $1,561 for a one-bedroom unit.
There has been no shortage of demand for these lower-cost market rental homes, which are located within the upper levels of the 13-storey building. These units carry modern contemporary designs and have views of downtown, False Creek, and the mountains.
There is one big stipulation for these market rental homes: these units are only available to renters whose annual income does not exceed $80,000.
“Essentially, what the building is trying to do is service both the need for affordable rental units in the DTES (targeting young professionals who work in Chinatown and Gastown – or even the service industry) and the need for supportive housing for women who are homeless or at risk of being homeless,” said CHMC in an email to Daily Hive.
“Mixed income rental buildings like this are conducive to helping the DTES reach its potential as a diverse and vibrant community.”
As for the 120 units of social housing, the focus of these units is on women. The building has 52 shelter-rate units for women or couples where a women signs the lease and 20 units for shelter aid for elderly renters who are women are 60 years or older. The remaining 40 social housing units are general-purpose housing income limits stock.
The building is managed by Atira Women’s Resource Society, which built the project in partnership with the City of Vancouver, BC Housing, CMHC, and Streetohome. The residents within the social housing units are provided with support service staff, which are partially funded by the revenue generated from the rents for the other units.
There is also ground-level commercial space and a total of 16 underground parking spaces.
A major public art component on the front facade with 14 glass panels, featuring women figures around a ‘medicine wheel’, is designed by local artist Judy Chartrand.