Solterra President Gerry Nichele (centre) with VP Mike Bosa (right)

EDITOR’S NOTE | On Jan 20th 2013, the Waldorf Hotel will close its doors to the public. For the last two years, developers have been quietly buying up property along the Hastings Corridor while building support from city councillors. The result has been a dramatic escalation in property values, followed by evictions and rent increases. While evictions are typically poorly covered by mainstream media, the eviction of the Waldorf has been making big headlines. This cultural space, however, has a backstory that links it to other evictions and to the broader neighborhood of which it is a part.

Vision Vancouver and the revitalization of East Hastings

For the past two years the real-estate industry has been aggressively acquiring property in the area east of Clark Drive on the Hastings Corridor. This forward march of developers into the east end, actively encouraged and brokered by Vision Vancouver, has brought dramatic increases in the value of property in the area surrounding the Waldorf. The price of the Waldorf property has increased $1 million in the past year alone. The blocks surrounding the Waldorf site are being consolidated by the Solterra Group, a large property development corporation, with the Waldorf site being the last piece of the puzzle. Solterra, who purchased a table at Vision’s recent fundraiser, is run by Vice-President Mike Bosa of the Bosa family of developers, also reliable Vision funders.

Across the street from the Waldorf is 1500 East Hastings. This past year, the entire block was purchased for $5.5 million by Sharam and Peter Malek of Millenium Development, who were bailed out by the City during the Olympic Village social housing betrayal.

Further along the Hastings corridor, the situation is the same. Late last year, despite opposition from low-income residents, local artisans, and sex workers, a massive project dubbed “Woodwards East” by DTES residents was approved. It sits only a few blocks away from the Waldorf site at 955 East Hastings. When 955 East was rezoned from industrial to residential, Downtown Eastside residents and COPE held a press conference predicting wide-sweeping changes to the area after the approval of a rezoning.

History of Solterra on the Eastside

The Waldorf redevelopment is not Solterra’s first project in the neighbourhood. On May 7th, 2011, Solterra was granted a development application for a 10-storey condo development at 189 Keefer Street, Chinatown. A year previous, Vision had approved an upzoning policy for the area, as part of the city’s new gentrification plan for Chinatown, increasing the value of 189 Keefer from $1 million to $2.9 million overnight.

There was much at stake at the upzoning hearing: on one side stood the working-class community opposed to the project, while on the other side Vision’s gentrification plan for Chinatown, and of course Solterra’s desire to maximize profits, all hanging in the balance. To remove uncertainty Solterra threw caution to the wind, proceeding to infiltrate one of the most important civic institutions on matters of urban policy: the City of Vancouver’s Development Permit Board. On the day the 189 Keefer project was passed, the architectural advisor sitting on the Development Permit Board was Foad Rafii, a paid employee on this Solterra project.

During the hearing, the conflict of interest was raised by DTES residents. The Mainlander reported: “Rafii spoke on behalf of the applicant, and did not publicly disclose his conflict of interest. When a member of the public voiced his concerns, the Board Chair Vicki Potter and Foad Rafii remained silent, refusing to address the public’s claim.” The development was approved by Vision Vancouver, despite the conflict of interest.

Solterra is also involved in the notorious Wonder and Palace single-room occupancy hotels in the Downtown Eastside. Mainlander readers will recall that under the previous owner, George Wosley, building conditions were so bad that the city leveled 100s of bylaw infractions and tenants took the owner to court. The owner was forced into receivership in June 2012, at which point Solterra purchased the hotels at rock-bottom prices (the firm which acted as the receiver, Campbell Saunder, had its office on the same floor of the same building as Solterra’s downtown corporate headquarters at 925 West Georgia). According to one tenant, pressure on the low-income residents of the Wonder and Palace hotels has only been increasing in recent months.

Creative class alliance

One month after the re-zoning of Solterra’s 189 Keefer property, on June 10th 2011, Vision held its pre-election nomination meeting at the Waldorf Hotel. The event was a natural link between an emergent cultural institution and a second-term contender conscious of their roots in the young, creative class of Vancouver. The link was fruitful: a few months later, in the lead-up to the election, Vision hired local promoters Sean Devlin and Cameron Reed to organize a “time-raiser” at the Waldorf to build ground-support for the Vision campaign. Meanwhile the director of the Cheaper Show, Graeme Berglund, was singing the praises of Vision Vancouver from his home base at the Waldorf. By locating the new Waldorf as a space for creative class engagement, Vision increased both its cultural ‘cred’ and millennial generation support.

In late October 2011 the Globe and Mail published an article celebrating the revitalized hotel’s one year anniversary, calling it “Vancouver’s cultural oasis in the middle of nowhere.” In one sentence, the article both erased already-existing cultural spaces a short walk away from the Waldorf (Cedar Root Gallery, The Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society, LES Gallery, The Purple Thistle Centre for Arts & Activism, The Dogwood Center for Socialist Education, to name a few), while contributing to a key aspect of gentrification discourse: the notion that nothing of value exists here anyhow.

Today, with news of the sale to Solterra, the ‘nowhere’ narrative continues as supporters begin a petition that decries the onslaught of condo-development, since it means losing the Waldorf. The petition celebrates the establishment of this “cultural oasis in the middle of nowhere” while also quoting Vancouver’s mainstream poor-bashing magazine, Scout. Low-income people are of course the “nobody” in the middle of this DTES “nowhere,” and the petition seems to suggest that the battle plan for a rescued Waldorf is to strike a new deal with Vision and city hall, rather than forge new alliances with the same people (renters) being evicted by the same developer (Solterra) in the same neighborhood (DTES).

Indeed, the celebrated cultural institution is finding itself in the shoes of last May’s Chinatown residents. The difference might be that unlike the low-income residents at the Asia Hotel, Waldorf supporters are still counting on their ties to Vision Vancouver with their petition appealing to Gregor Robertson and Vision for help.

What next?

In addition to being a successful space on its own terms, the Waldorf was explicitly viewed as an institution capable of drawing a more affluent demographic to the east of the Downtown Eastside, home to some of Vancouver’s lowest income housing and artist space. The Waldorf frames its role lucidly: “The irony that the Waldorf was taken over by a condo developer in the very area we helped reinvigorate is obvious to anyone.” What remains to be dispelled is the notion that the Waldorf was a lonely pioneer. Gentrification is always a shared class effort, as we are reminded by Peter Wall’s statement to the Globe and Mail last January: “We have the Waldorf, Bob [Rennie] has bought that little building; I think it’s ripe for change.”

Peter Wall’s “we” is a particular we, specific to the developer monopoly in the context of gentrification. The eviction of the Waldorf forces artists and cultural workers to consider the ways in which they are used by forces larger than themselves. It is not a matter of blaming artists for gentrification, but rather taking stock of the ways in which we can choose how to deal with the cards we are dealt. Some have advocated passive submission, since “we can’t throw ourselves in the way of the economic locomotive and just hate developers.” But is that approach justified at a time when many cultural spaces are continually lost, and irreversibly so?

On the other side of the equation, some of the people defeated in the Chinatown hearing last May later joined Vision in hopes that “if you can’t beat them, join them.” The Waldorf proves that even if you join the development establishment, you still get beat. For this reason, the eviction might be a moment of opening — an ideal turning point for coming to the simple yet difficult realization that gentrification does not discriminate between artists, cultural workers and low-income renters.

In response to the eviction, local artists are calling for a one-off solution to save the Waldorf. It is possible that Vision will make an exception for the threatened Waldorf as an attempt to recuperate its ‘creative class’ discourse, but to address the root causes of gentrification another approach is needed. Renters and artists affected by displacement can recognize their shared position and organize together from there — and what better moment than now? The end to displacement ultimately rests on these future ties.

53 Responses to The story behind The Waldorf’s displacement from the Hastings Corridor

  1. brent argue says:

    Solterra Management is choosing not to do nothing at the moment. Please get your facts straight, and stop writing , and defending ” poor people” like me that live in the east side. I’m doing fine really.

    • Nathan Crompton says:

      From the Waldorf’s press release: “East Vancouver’s cultural institution the Waldorf Hotel has been sold to real estate development company forcing imminent closure…In early January 2013, the complex was sold to the Solterra Group of Companies, a condominium developer…Solterra were unwilling to sit down and discuss negotiating long-term lease possibilities.”

      • Ryan T. says:

        There is no need for Solterra to discuss leasing because for many months the previous owner did same and wound up giving breaks and taking losses from the Waldorf managers. Nothing has changed. There is only one possibility; have a sound business/operating plan and execute it. The Waldorfers blew it.

        How can we put this so hipsters can comprehend? You have an ex who treated you like shit, relinquished commitments (after several forgivenesses), and cost you reputation and significant money. You gonna take them back for more? You would? Oh.

  2. Keith Higgins says:

    To be entirely fair, the “nowhere” reference on the petition page is a quotation from a G&M article, not a direct statement from the proponents. My feeling from participating in parallel discussions is that many signers actually see the bigger picture; others are coming to the issue entirely unaware of the connection between loss of affordability, displacement of low-paid workers (a category which includes most artists) and the unemployed, and decimation of “creative space”. We owe it to them to widen the frame. And as far as “creative class” Vision apologists are concerned, maybe the shock will bring them to their senses, although that’s a faint hope.

  3. Blahblah says:

    I have worked in the area and I don’t have a problem saying it’s the “middle of nowhere” because it is… not just because of poor people but because there is little action going on besides the Waldorf. I say Shaugnessy is the middle of nowhere yet it’s not poor… again there is just nothing to do there. I’d say Coal Harbour is pretty isolated and boring but since it’s close enough to other areas of interest it’s not the middle of nowhere

  4. Tara Mahoney says:

    Thanks for the insightful contribution to the discussion. Although some claims are a bit heavy handed in my opinion, I see your point with the “nowhere” quote and have removed it from the petition text. Stay critical.

  5. Thomas Anselmi says:

    Well written and insightful story. But we didn’t create or facilitate any of these petitions. The public did. As far as the “middle of nowhere” thing, we didn’t pen that either but come experience running a business in that stretch. There isn’t much residential density, poor, rich or otherwise.The Native Friendship Center is a community destination, just as we are.

  6. Cameron Reed says:

    While I understand your anti-Vision stance, being founded and edited by COPE’s executive director Sean Antrim, I feel like naming me specifically, and connecting my work with Vision as a cause for Waldorf Entertainment’s situation, is entirely unfair.

    I’d hope that the decade of work to promote and enrich Vancouver’s cultural sector (via Music Waste, the Victory Square Block Party, Only Magazine) and the many events I’ve organized at the Waldorf would supersede a single “time-raiser.” I’m certain it’s more than any of the writers of this article have ever done.

    So go fuck yourselves and don’t drag me into your self-righteous bullshit. You’re no better than the NPA-mouthpiece You don’t actually give a shit about any of this, you just want to make Vision look bad. And I don’t really care either way, just don’t bring my name into it.

    • Tristan Markle says:

      At the very least, mentioning that Vision sought to, and did, organize a fundraiser with the Waldorf was certainly necessary for this article. Indeed the fundraiser was not a cause of the Waldorf’s precarious tenancy! Nor is it a reflection on anyone’s character, or take away from the other good work that is done. It reflects a political strategy to mobilize a certain demographic to (often unknowingly) support a corporate state.

      I understand not wanting to be named, and certainly I disapprove of ad hominem personal attacks. Mentioning that you organized the fundraiser is a non-controversial statement — it is not of course appropriate to draw conclusions about your personality/character/motives. Coincidentally, your comments demonstrate the futility of ad hominem attacks, as they assume things about people you don’t know (I don’t know you!), for example that I “don’t actually give a shit about any of this” (which is of course false… although interestingly you say in the next sentence that you yourself “don’t really care anyway” …but I don’t believe that you don’t care).

      You further say that your organizing is “more than any of the writers of this article have ever done” (this is not a competition, but that said I’d advise against being “certain” about this assumption, too). You say that this is “self-righteous bullshit,” but explaining the political economy of redevelopment, and calling on artists and low-income residents – which includes all of us, including you and I – to organize together does not hinge on the self-righteousness of the writers.

      • Cameron Reed says:

        Cool. Great points.

        Just note that WE approached Vision about organizing the “time-raiser” because WE wanted to bring them closer to the creative community. It was our strategy. Your whole argument hinges on the some kind of nefarious backroom strategy by Vision to deceive a community into supporting “a corporate state.” That didn’t happen. It’s simply not true, and it’s offensive that you’d assume as much. It’s offensive to assume that I, and my colleagues, would have been used by Vision rather than genuinely supporting them and their campaign through our own agency. It’s offensive to assume that to support Vision, could only happen if you were “unknowingly” (to use your language) duped into it.

        I love Marxism as much as the next person, but this kind of “self-righteous” rhetoric is part of the reason why hard-left politics often fail: You think that if someone supports a party or policy you don’t, it’s got to be false consciousness.

        And what I don’t care about is your political manoeuvring, and you better believe I don’t.

        • Maria Wallstam says:

          Tristan wrote that people can be duped, but not always by any means! I certainly have been duped before. I don’t know if anyone really said anything about backroom deals (although it certainly looks like people are in meetings with Vision at present). Hopefully the meeting goes well and Vision grants an exception for the Waldorf

  7. Hi Mainlander, I’m curious about your thoughts on whether Solterra may actually keep the Waldorf open but run it itself, or with its own hired production company?Do you think Vision Vancouver may actually step in to assist facilitating this as evidence of its commitment to support arts and culture, and keep the Waldorf open. How do we respond to this? Is keeping the Waldorf open enough, or is the issue here about cultural autonomy? Do we also need to demand the City initiate controls on development, and new strategies for artists, cultural workers, small business owners, and renters to own and operate their own spaces? Is it not enough to ask for the Waldorf to be kept open and ‘saved’?

  8. Matt says:

    It is important to note that one of the main reaons the City of Vancouver encourages development, and the corresponding increases in property value, is that it increases that property tax that the City is able to collect, which it spends on the services we Vancouverites demand. In order to paint the full picture, I recommend that the author address the rate of or amount of increase of spending by the City on services for residents.

    • Maria Wallstam says:

      If they need money for public services, why does vancouver have the lowest corporate taxes in the world?

    • Clive Betton-Simmons says:

      Careful, the City ~responds~ to redevelopment (everything has been previously developed in some form) as buildings become obsolete and for the increasing demands for land use; residential commercial, institutional, public spaces, etc. They do not encourage it for taxable gain. Read up. More assessable property just means the annual tax load is spread out more widely.

      This year’s City budget is about $1.2 billion, and 60% of the revenue comes from property taxes, all of that (about $700million), gets eaten up by 6600 staffers in wages, benefits, pensions and perks. The vast majority of that goes to CUPE members.

  9. Malloreigh says:

    I feel that calling the Waldorf part of the DTES is going a bit far. The downtown east side is an incredibly dense residential community while the Waldorf is centred among industrially zoned buildings that share only their dilapidated condition with those in the DTES. I agree that there are huge issues with the “nowhere” narrative in this city’s gentrification but it’s not the same thing. There is residential around the Waldorf that will be affected by changes in the area but primarily we’re talking about meat packing plants.

    • Darcy McGee says:

      The DTES is a fluid concept that gets bigger as needed to support the whining of hipsters.

      I’m pretty sure my neighbourhood in North Van has been part of the DTES at some point.

      • malloreigh says:

        Regardless of whether you’re kidding or not… the DTES is a geographic place with people living and working in it. It is a zone in the city made up of citizens.

        • Michelle says:

          Thanks for adding this comment- I was distracted throughout the piece by the reference to the Waldorf as a part of the DTES when it’s geographically and demographically pretty far away.

    • I Don't Work at a Meat Packers says:

      The Waldorf is definitely part of the DTES. It is a transitional area between DT and the East Village, and many people work and live here. As gentrification of China Town and The Drive ramp up, it is some of the most affordable housing left in the area. There are already a few condo developments that will be right next door to the Waldorf. My concern is that over speculation in real estate will leave us with a bunch of empty buildings or pits in the ground, instead of cultural venues or housing that people who work in this area can actually afford. The Olympic Village is still a ghost town and the condo development along Main and 2nd street is massive. How many over-priced condos do we really need?

      • Sarah Dolans says:

        No, it is definitely not. Not part of DTES. If a visitor said “Where’s the Waldorf”, you would not included ‘downtown’ in the description. For fuck sakes, it’s 2 blocks west of Commercial, which is definitely not, downtown! In fact, the 1400 block of E. Hastings is too far east to even be included in the Strathcona ‘hood, which is east of Chinatown. Actually, it’s in the Woodland part of the Grandview-Woodland ‘hood, which, is not well-known and easily identifiable, causing some to which egregiously refer to it as nowhere.

  10. Darcy McGee says:

    What I find most interesting here is the disconnect between what people LIKE about the Waldorf and what they’re trying to “save.”

    Saving the Waldorf does nothing to ensure its future as a cultural desintation: Tom and his team did a great job of attracting talent and putting on good shows. I may have thought the Cereal Bar was a bit over the top and Nuba’s hours may have been COMPLETELY unpredictable and only vaguely similar to the ones they advertised, but you can’t deny that the Waldorf had the kind of buzz that can only be generated by the huddled masses of unemployed skinny jean clad kids smoking in an ironic way.

    The problem is they didn’t OWN it. Tom and his team knew the risks associated with this: I think it’s fair to say they couldn’t afford to buy it, so they chose this (with its associated risks) as a way to enact their vision. The vision was ambitious, even if you disagreed with parts of it.

    (Maybe Tom will chime in a bit: if my assumptions are wrong, I’d like to be corrected. Note that I’m not being critical, I’m just pointing out the assumptions.)

    So: saving the building? Great. It could be declared a historic site, or the city could make preservation part of the rezoning application process.

    That’s not going to save what you liked about it, and unless you’re seriously proposing the city engage in funding Tom’s business there’s no guarantee that a “saved” Waldorf is a Waldorf you like.

    Let’s not forget; the hotel failed once before. That’s how Tom and his team wound up operating it, after all.

    • Travis Taylor says:

      Good comments. What is happening at Waldorf is completely natural, urban evolution. It’s called creative destruction, which is an essential element of sustainability. Look at W2 Media Cafe disaster, big, positive steps are being taken to replace by something much better, more functional, less wasteful. The whole history of the success of Gastown businesses is creative destruction.

      If you look at your left hand, its the reason it contains an iPhone and not a Motorola.

  11. ian Gregson says:

    Overall a well written piece on an issue we should all know about – on one hand its an iconic East Van landmark and on the other it is an issue of influence pedaling and some might suggest, indirect corruption.

    Vancouver has always been run by real estate barons, regardless of the party that has been in city hall. If you look at the list of donors to Vision and NPA they are almost identical, some might argue you cannot run a political campaign without them.

    I want to like the people with “Vision” but the process of how they came to be reeks of something foul. I’m a cyclist and I have commended them on their cycling infrastructure 100% But once again we see being in “power” comes at a price and if the rezoning committee needs to be restructured then get on it people.

  12. Darcy McGee says:

    > influence pedaling

    Well, no: it’s an issue of “influence peddling” but OK. i can forgive that.

    I’m not at all sure that you’ve drawn a clear connection between your cycling comment and the content of the article, which makes it seem like you’re just grinding your personal axe rather than considering the actual issue.

  13. tf says:

    To kinda quote Bing Thom -
    “Vancouver was founded on 3 things: real estate, immigration and drugs. And it is ever so.”

  14. Brenton says:

    From the Mayor’s release today:

    “The Mayor has asked the City Manager to prepare a report for this Tuesday’s council meeting that would protect the Waldorf Hotel and its heritage values, including plans to prevent any demolition of the building. The staff report will include… steps to prevent any Demolition Permit from being issued, in the event the owners were to seek one”

  15. Paul D says:

    I worked a few blocks away from the Waldorf for several years. It’s no exaggeration to describe it as the “middle of nowhere”.

  16. jack reacher says:

    and this lovely article and subsequent commentary only stand to prove that douchiness in vancouver is not threatened.

    the only reason anybody cares about the waldorf is because the people who were involved had a minimal amount of clout.

    the city is changing and the city is, as it always has been, run by a bunch of disaffected brats who care more about the city (ie: their city) than they to about its citizens.

    you want an expose? why not do a little research into how many vancouver condos are vacant, left specifically so, to ensure maximized profitability for a small percentage of those in the know while retaining the so-called single-family space crisis.

    and please stop using the term “creative-class”, it’s obvious you don’t know what it means.

    • HM says:

      since you seem to know so much about it why not provide some links to the research you’ve undertaken. Not that I don’t believe you but anytime someone says “do some research” and “those in the know” I begin to think conspiracy theory and become immediately disaffected by the proposition of research, when clearly you’ve already done it. Proof man, I want Proof.

  17. wynnruth4 says:

    The East End is not the middle of nowhere. And the WAldorf is a heritage building of the East End where many of us have gone to enjoy ourselves since way back in the ’50′s. The recent renos and excellent restaurant and entertainment hub has made it a special place for us East Enders who love good music and food and a pleasant place to hang out. It should NOT be torn down to be replaced for more condos. This genetrifcation tends to go way too far.

    • Marty Phillips says:

      You are up-ended. There is no east end, because the east doesn’t end. There is an east side, but it is only the side of something central. The West End is an end because it is a side that ends. In the water. You however, do appear to be nowhere, particularly with the idea that the Waldorf was a somewhat exclusionary place only for “us East Enders.”

      • laniwurm says:

        Marty, I have, in my possession, irrefutable, empirical evidence of the East End’s existence. I even know where it ends. Try as I might, I see nothing in wynnruth4′s comment suggesting the ‘dorf is exclusive to “us East Enders.”.

  18. A few years ago I went to a conference in Toronto about Creative Places and Spaces, and there I learned about how a local artist lobby group called Artscape finally discovered the “Gentrification Equation” and began teaching it to local developers in an effort to both preserve affordable creative spaces and make developers money.

    The way it works is that developers find industrial areas where artists are already attracted to. They buy up those specific properties, as well as the surrounding ones. They then create long-term affordable rental contracts for the artists, which attracts more artists, which attracts hiptsers and yuppies wanting to consume culture. The developers continue to encourage the early-stage gentrification momentum for a few years and watch their surrounding properties skyrocket in value. Then they pull the trigger and start redeveloping the surrounding areas and make a killing. To acknowledge the artist’s work in generating value, and to keep a sense of cool in the neighbourhood that is always missing when places get gentrified, the developers don’t evict the artists. Instead, they keep artist rents low. This adds some “cool” spice to the entire development, which keeps surrounding property values high.

    I think Solterra Group are being fools to evict the Waldorf tenants. If the tenants are poor business people as has been suggested and are not able to pay rents on time or in full, then Solterra Group should help them with their business smarts. The Waldorf is not done creating cool for the neighbourhood. It has several more years in it, and so Solterra Group should hang on to it as is, encourage it, keep its rents affordable. This will only continue to increase their surrounding property values, as more artists, hipsters and yuppies frequent the establishment, reinforcing a sense of cool, desire and belonging.

    This newer approach to gentrification can work with artists, since they are the sparks for the gentrification fire, but I don’t yet know of examples of this working with non-creative class, low income citizens, such as many of the DTES residents. I think this is where government has to intervene to be a voice for the “voice-less” and impose rules on new developments like 20% social housing.

    • HM says:

      In defence here, Soltera has never said it is going to evict the anyone. The guys running the Waldorf have even said the current owner would not negotiate a long term lease, and that their tennancy would end on the 20th. The only word of bulldozing, or eviction on solteras part has been through speculation. This was my thought, and it’s based on the past actions of developers in this city, so there is some support to these assumptions, but there is nothing stating this was going to happen, so they remain assumptions.

  19. Robert Fougere says:

    Unless you’re certain money changed hands, the statement “…Vision hired local promoters Sean Devlin and Cameron Reed to organize a “time-raiser” at the Waldorf to build ground-support for the Vision campaign”, certainly deserves a retraction, as all those that were asked to participle were under the impression that it was a 100% volunteer based token of appreciate for Visions support of the arts community, which extends much farther back than his incumbent campaign.

  20. Anaid says:

    Once again Vancouver allows a piece of heritage to be destroyed. So sad! Anyone who has ever travelled anywhere knows that it is seeing where a town has been that give the present context and makes the destination interesting.

  21. ryan says:

    blah blah blah.get off the internet and do something.

  22. Artists are the unwitting storm troopers of gentrification.

  23. harry says:

    i remember when developers waited to sell all the condos BEFORE the surrounding artists were kicked out. HEADLINE: “CULTURAL OASIS DROWNED BY GOLOBAL REAL ESTATE WARMING”

  24. Ross Tellerton says:

    Hipsters and East Vanners seriously need to raise their expectations. And ambitions. Quips of the City’s artistic scene being destroyed because a bar closes down? Sure there was some art here and there, but it’s hardly a “cultural institution” if it’s primarily driven by beer sales, and nightly, causes numerous vomittings with some patrons becoming seriously intoxicated.

  25. jack reacher says:

    there’s no conspiracy theory. it’s common knowledge to anyone in the industry. i mean, if you want proof, just go outside at night downtown and count how many condos look occupied.

    from a business perspective it makes perfect sense. that’s not a conspiracy, it’s sound economics.

    go ask the sausage king of chicago about it.

    in typical vancouver style, we’ll bitch about it when the time comes and rabble away, but whose actually going to step-up and make these spaces profitable? You’ll notice that the majority of people extolling the virtues of this venue are in general people that make their living from an antiquated funding system that’s a relic of the massey report, which is great for a very small percentage of peer-reviewers but does nothing for the mass of cultural workers who operate outside that structure and are not connected via a very small network whose resources are rapidly being depleted by conservative doctrine.

    forget politics. this is about profit. if we can make it profitable these space will exist. but we have to do it on our own. no government funding. no civic excuses. no passing the blame onto anybody else. you want it. make the fucking thing.

  26. Marie-Hélène Tessier says:

    Dear friends, reading this article, although I see your frustration about making a disticntion between social causes and art…I find it extremely naive when you assume that the Waldorf Team is voting for Vision party etc. It is very bad journalism in my opinion and to compare the Waldorf initiative with LES Gallery is a bad joke. The Black and yellow gallery was only RENTING a space upstairs and in no way the individual who ran that gallery represents the political mentality of the Waldorf Productions as a whole. So ridiculous how you emphasizes that Vision held parties at the Waldorf, and what about the NPD and what about the Unions and what about counter culture musicians, and what about the Waldorf NEVER wanting to gather more affluent crowds as you wrongly suggest…we kept the lowest cost for the shows and offered tons of free shows and the food truck, for instance, would have NEVER survived without us, and we never took any money from them. I think that the way you write, that is in a suspicious and therefore naive understandong and inexusably misinformed on how cultural development and business work, and in that perspective, it is hard for me to take you seriously.

    • Nathan Crompton says:

      Dear Marie-Hélène,

      We do not write or assume that “the Waldorf Team is voting for Vision.” If our article assumes anything it is that the creative community is divided. If that were not the case, things would be different (in any case your comment confirms it). The absent consensus is also, we argue, an opening. Depending on many things, an artist can become reluctant to reach for a new politics at times of crisis, partly – among many reasons – because experimentation “threatens to give presence to the constituency of the poor and disenfranchised,” to quote Ken Lum. In the place of such a threat, it is easier to test the limits of one’s own fortune (luck?) – in this case, to call on Vision to make a special case for the Waldorf.

      Instead we are calling for new alliances with the same people (renters) being evicted by the same developer (Solterra) in the same neighborhood (DTES)… To align, meaningfully, with the people who have already been charting the path against an affliction that affects everyone.


  27. Marie-Hélène Tessier says:

    Dear Nate, are you still writing from India? I am sorry for my apparent brutal response and will continue our discussion with my take on the intellectual divide about the waldorf, in a later text, as I am overwhelmed right now, but deeply interested in how Main Lander depict the Waldorf production as a whole, in the attempt to deconstruct its politics by underlining the hidden links between City Hall, ”creative class” and condo developpers, explaining that the Waldorf could be, like other cultural forms, just a pawn ruled by larger political strategem being replayed on the chess board. Granted and I think we are quite aware of that kind of game in the arena of right and expression. However, I think that we are forging alliances with other poeple struggling against the flatening of Vancouver’s identity through the deleting of anything remotly marginal. While we cannot change our field of action, Waldorf supporters on the other hand seem to come from all kinds of faction, reflecting the heterogeneous practices of the Waldorf who does not operate under any specific concensus else than producing a space without unilateral ideology. Now I would like to know where the Waldorf was ”explicitly viewed as capable of drawing a more affluent demographic”….all of the poeple involved with Waldorf Production live on the East Side, very close to the Waldorf in fact, even before Waldorf Production was even an idea. None of us come from the West Side, so the idea of gentrification is wrong and the word Reinvigoration should be taken for what it is, as one repairs an old sweather with holes. The Waldorf Productions cathers to the East Side, not only though their music programming or interest in vintage fashion and so on, but through the sheer low cost of the activities it offers. As for pioneering issues, the Waldorf is a pioneer in specifically what it created and the riks it took to create such thing, is, in deed, never seen before in Vancouver’s entire History. Shall I recall that you told me you actually NEVER set foot at the waldorf? And to end here for now, just so we can continue our conversation…why do you say that the Waldorf proves that even if you join the development establishment, you still get beat??????????????? Which Development the Waldorf Production joined exactly? I would love to know. I wish you could have interviewed one of the Waldorf Production poeple before you assumed their politics. Ties are forged through conversations and meetings, not just out of sharing a house on the same street. Much love and looking forward to more discussion. A last question…did any of the organizations you work with approached the Waldorf Productions for alliances?

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