New bold design for Empire Granville 7 theatres redevelopment in downtown Vancouver

Jul 12 2018, 9:30 am

This is a design you would expect from Asian cities like Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Singapore, and it could not be more fitting for downtown Vancouver’s Granville Entertainment District.

An updated artistic rendering of the Empire Granville 7 theatres redevelopment at 855 Granville Street shows bold alterations to the project’s middle ‘contemporary’ section.

It shows a white-panelled cornice that begins from the roof of the building, and then it winds down along the middle facade. This is further highlighted by a red ribbon running on the centre of the cornice’s entire path to the ground, and this feature appears to be integrated with LED and/or neon lighting for an enhanced nighttime appearance.

The middle building with glass curtain walls will be the only fully purpose-built exterior of the redevelopment.


Previous 2016 redevelopment design:

Artistic rendering of the future of Empire Granville 7. (Image by: Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership)

Updated 2018 redevelopment design:

855 Granville Street Empire Granville 7

Updated 2018 design of the Empire Granville 7 theatres redevelopment at 855 Granville Street in downtown Vancouver. (Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership / CBRE)

The project, designed by local architectural firm Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership, is to be achieved by gutting the seven auditoriums to accommodate new floor levels within the three-building complex. Only the heritage facades of the two end buildings – the 1893-built Palms Hotel and the 1938-built Paradise Theatre – will be retained.

“The renovation taking place on 855 Granville Street will further consolidate and modernize the three buildings with a brilliant new articulated glazed look while respecting the existing heritage building facades,” reads marketing materials by commercial real estate broker CBRE.

The retail spaces within the redevelopment are currently on the leasing market. According to the broker, there is over 44,400 sq. ft. of retail space within the lower floors – 11,467 sq. ft. in the basement (plus 1,100 sq. ft. mezzanine), 14,388 sq. ft. in the ground floor, and 17,586 sq. ft. on the second floor.

The remaining upper levels, including an additional level over the existing buildings, will accommodate about 30,000 sq. ft. of retail space.

For years, there has been much speculation over the possible tenants of the retail space, which is ideal for a flagship location for Indigo or UNIQLO.

However, earlier this year, Indigo announced it will open its flagship replacement bookstore for the downtown market by taking over Forever 21’s 29,000-sq-ft store space on Robson Street.

UNIQLO Founder and CEO Tadashi Yanai also previously told Daily Hive in October 2017 he is keen on opening a major store in downtown Vancouver. But so far, the Japanese retailer has opened three stores in suburban mall locations since last fall, and a fourth location will soon open at Coquitlam Centre.

The space and location of the Empire Granville 7 redevelopment would be highly ideal for UNIQLO, as the company’s flagship stores are typically approximately 30,000 sq. ft. and located in highly centralized shopping areas.

Coincidentally, the choice of colour scheme and the enhanced modernistic look depicted in the new architectural rendering also fits the exterior look of a UNIQLO store. It begs the question of whether the retail space within this redevelopment was considered by UNIQLO, but passed over.


Artistic rendering of the flagship UNIQLO store at CF Toronto Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto. This store opened in 2016. (UNIQLO)

Since Empire Granville 7 theatres shuttered its doors in November 2012, the building has sat vacant with its entrances and windows behind a chain link fence – giving off a seedy and dirty appearance.

The theatre’s closure has had a significant negative impact on the area given that it occupies over one-third of a city block.

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