New office building with heritage preservation for downtown Vancouver

Jul 12 2022, 11:30 pm

A two-storey building located mid-block on Seymour Street between Robson and Smithe streets is being eyed for formal heritage designation as part of its incorporation into a modest infill office development.

Local developer Bene Group and design firm Arno Matis Architecture have submitted a development permit application for 852 Seymour Street, just across from the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Vancouver.

The project retains and restores the existing 1926-built structure, which was originally built as the Great War Veterans’ Association Hall for Canada’s largest veteran organization, before becoming Playpen Central, a former LGBTQ nightlife establishment. The building is deemed to be an excellent example of refined Classical interwar architecture.

852 seymour street vancouver site

Site of 852 Seymour Street, Vancouver. (Arno Matis Architecture/Bene Group)

852 Seymour Street Vancouver Great War Veterans Association Hall Playpen

Site of 852 Seymour Street, Vancouver. (Arno Matis Architecture/Bene Group)

852 seymour street vancouver heritage

Site of 852 Seymour Street, Vancouver. (Google Maps)

To achieve the redevelopment, an adjacent 1924-built, one-storey commercial building and the surface vehicle parking fronting the laneway will be demolished for part of the new structure.

The resulting new seven-storey building effectively provides a four-storey vertical expansion over the heritage building. The contemporary design addition provides contrast with the retained heritage component.

852 Seymour Street Vancouver Great War Veterans Association Hall Playpen

Artistic rendering of 852 Seymour Street, Vancouver. (Arno Matis Architecture/Bene Group)

852 Seymour Street Vancouver Great War Veterans Association Hall Playpen

Artistic rendering of 852 Seymour Street, Vancouver. (Arno Matis Architecture/Bene Group)

There will be 31,500 sq ft of office space and 3,500 sq ft of ground-level retail space for a total floor area of over 41,200 sq ft. The office space can hold up to about 150 employees.

Workers will have access to various landscaped amenity spaces on patios, including a large rooftop patio on the lower rooftop of the three-storey podium.

852 Seymour Street Vancouver Great War Veterans Association Hall Playpen

Artistic rendering of 852 Seymour Street, Vancouver. (Arno Matis Architecture/Bene Group)

852 Seymour Street Vancouver Great War Veterans Association Hall Playpen

Artistic rendering of 852 Seymour Street, Vancouver. (Arno Matis Architecture/Bene Group)

852 Seymour Street Vancouver Great War Veterans Association Hall Playpen

Artistic rendering of 852 Seymour Street, Vancouver. (Arno Matis Architecture/Bene Group)

852 Seymour Street Vancouver Great War Veterans Association Hall Playpen

Artistic rendering of 852 Seymour Street, Vancouver. (Arno Matis Architecture/Bene Group)

Even with the development site’s narrow street frontage of just 62.5 ft, the project proponents will still provide some vehicle parking, accomplished by using a car elevator to access four underground levels. A total of 31 vehicle parking stalls and 18 secured bike parking spaces will be provided.

A much larger redevelopment is eyed for the major mid-block surface parking lot fronting both Seymour and Richards streets, located immediately adjacent to the Great War Veterans’ Association Hall. A different developer and ownership group are looking to build a mixed-use development with hotel uses, but they have yet to submit a formal application.

852 Seymour Street Vancouver Great War Veterans Association Hall Playpen

Artistic rendering of 852 Seymour Street, Vancouver. (Arno Matis Architecture/Bene Group)

852 Seymour Street Vancouver Great War Veterans Association Hall Playpen

Artistic rendering of 852 Seymour Street, Vancouver. (Arno Matis Architecture/Bene Group)

852 Seymour Street Vancouver Great War Veterans Association Hall Playpen

Artistic rendering of 852 Seymour Street, Vancouver. (Arno Matis Architecture/Bene Group)

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