In what might be called a case of too little, too late, Vancouver City Council has designated the Waldorf Hotel a city heritage site. The privately-owned Waldorf on East Hastings has been a popular destination for over 60 years as both a small hotel as well as a music and drinking venue.
This designation comes after a public outcry earlier this year over the announcement of the Waldorf’s closure after it was sold to developers. The “Save the Waldorf” petition that quickly sprung up has since received approximately 19,000 online signatures.
The Waldorf’s developer owners, Solterra, have indicated the heritage designation will not be a problem for their development plans. At the same time, although the designation is great, the Waldorf’s former operators have stated that it does not tackle the main issue head-on of why the city is rapidly losing its cultural spaces. City Council has not addressed the issue of high rents nor have they acknowledged the provincial government’s expensive (and draconian) liquor licenses.
With the Waldorf building specifically, the recent historical designation won’t necessarily protect the interior and its structure from being gutted or even demolished. It will simply make it harder for developers.
Will the Waldorf once again become a popular destination or will the recently purchased Fox Cinema, a pornographic theatre on Main Street, become the new and better Waldorf? Only time will tell.