Protest against government bailout of Pantages condo project

Tues Dec 11, 2012 — Today at 2pm, the Downtown Eastside not for Developers coalition (DNFD) is holding a demonstration against the government bailout of the Pantages condo project on the 100-block of East Hastings. News was recently leaked to the Province newspaper that BC Housing has bailed-out condo developer Marc Williams/Worthington Properties with $23 million in sub-prime loans. BC Housing said that it has a mandate to fund “revitalization.”

The Province reported: “Dan Maxwell, vice-president, corporate services, and CFO of B.C. Housing, said Williams’ application to the province’s community partnership program was accepted because the development will revitalize the block.”

The organizers of today’s demonstration are “calling on Marc Williams to sell the Pantages parcel to the City at the 2010 assessed value and for the City to buy the site and work with BC Housing to develop it as 100% resident controlled social housing with low-income community space on the ground floor.”

Historical timeline of Pantages/Sequel 138 condo project

2004: Worthington Properties buys the Pantages Theatre for $440,000. Worthington purchases the adjacent lots, spending just over $1m to assemble the block for redevelopment.

2008: Williams (working for Worthington Properties), the City, and the Province devise a plan to save the theatre and build social housing. But the deal falls through at the last minute on Sept 30 2008, shortly before the municipal election.

Sept 12 2008, Jan 28 2009: The Vancouver Sun runs two articles (see here and here) outlining the connection between Worthington Properties and organized crime. Henceforth developer Marc Williams uses personal name in place of Worthington Properties.

Dec 2009: The preservation project languishes under Vision Vancouver’s leadership. A disillusioned Heritage Vancouver, which had identified the Pantages as the city’s most important threatened heritage site, announces it is abandoning its campaign to save the building.

March 2010: City assesses the value of the lots at $3.7m. Worthington Properties tries to sell the block to the City, asking a price well above market value. City Council turns down the offer at an in-camera meeting on March 22, 2010.

April 2011: the City grants demolition permit for Pantages Theatre. There are community protests against the demolition.

July 2011: Article published in The Mainlander calling on City to use expropriation powers to buy land at real market value.

Fall 2011: Vision Vancouver refuses to intervene, sending project for “rubber-stamp” at development permit board.

April 23 2012: At permit board hearing, large contingent of police bar low-income residents from hearing room, assaulting several residents. Despite dozens of delegations and several permit board members speaking against the condo project, Deputy City Manager Dave McLellan pushes through the approval.

Nov 2012: News is leaked that developer cannot find project financing, is bailed-out by BC Housing.

Mainlander articles about the Pantages condo project

Community paints Pantages to protest condo development,” by Tristan Markle, The Mainlander, 15 May 2011.

How to save the Pantages Theatre: Expropriation,” by Tristan Markle, The Mainlander, 20 July 2011.

City Council uses questionable methods to fast-track Sequel 138 gentrification project,” by Tristan Markle, The Mainlander, 27 April 2012.

BC Housing subsidizes Pantages Condo project,” by Jean Swanson, The Mainlander, 30 November 2012.