In yet another hit to Vancouver’s cultural and arts scene, the Waldorf Hotel has been sold to a condo developer and will close for good on January 20.
The hotel re-opened after a substantial renovation on October 31, 2010 and quickly became a cultural hub in East Vancouver. The Waldorf is home to a restaurant, a historic Tiki bar dating back to the 1940s, two nightclubs, a recording studio and an art gallery.
According to management, the first year was “financially difficult,” but the Waldorf was well on its way to becoming an “economically viable and profitable business.”
Management were informed earlier this month that the complex had been sold to the Solterra Group, a condo developer currently developing a high-rise in Chinatown called “Keefer Block.”
Thursday afternoon, Solterra issued a press release through their public relations company.
“It will be a while before we take possession of the property, and right now the Puharich family is still responsible for the ongoing operations of the hotel. We have an open mind about the future of this site and we are studying all the options. I can say that at this point we certainly have no intention of demolishing the Waldorf Hotel. We want to work with the City to explore possible ways to retain and improve the hotel," said Gerry Nichele, CEO of Solterra Group.
According to a press release from the Waldorf, the new owners were unwilling to sit down and negotiate a long-term lease. Waldorf management was offered a short-term, week-to-week lease until September 2013 when the property must be vacant.
60 people are out of work and “the business is destroyed,” according to Waldorf partner Thomas Anselmi. He says a week-to-week lease would create too much uncertainty when booking artists and entertainers.
“The Waldorf closing is a big loss to our growing creative community, they built a great culture hub,” tweeted Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.
"It’s my hope that they’ll be able to re-launch and return in some form in the near future. Supporting Vancouver’s dynamic arts and culture sector is a top priority of our City Council, and the City is exploring ways to support the Waldorf continuing as one of Vancouver’s most unique and vibrant cultural spaces," said the Mayor in a press release following the tweet.
"The site at 1489 East Hastings St. is currently zoned for mixed-use commercial purposes, not residential development. Any change in zoning would require extensive neighbourhood consultation and approval by city council," he added.
Heritage Vancouver says the re-development is a threat to one of the oldest surviving Tiki bars in North America.
The area around East Hastings and Clark is seeing a flurry of condo development activity. The Brave Bull House of Steaks was recently sold to a developer. Millennium Development is also building a low-rise condo development called Boheme across the street from the Waldorf. The former Canadian Tire has been demolished and a new Nofrills grocery store will be open later this year.
Within an hour of the announcement Wednesday, “Waldorf” and #Savethewaldorf were trending on twitter. Solterra Group's Facebook page is also being bombarded with negative comments from people upset about the closure of the hotel. The developer also removed address of their Delta head office from the page.
Read it on Global News: Global BC | Updated: New owner of the Waldorf Hotel responds to public furor over closure