The housing stock in the Dunbar area of Vancouver has undergone significant change in the past five years. Originally a working class neighbourhood with many quite modest homes surrounded by lovely gardens, it is now a neighbourhood that 99% of the people working in Vancouver cannot afford because the replacement homes are built to the maximum footprint and cost millions. Greenspace has been reduced. Included on this website are photos of many (not all) of the disappeared houses.
View Teardowns in the Dunbar area of Vancouver, BC in a larger map

Demolitions West of the Dunbar Community Centre

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Those 1940's Houses on Dunbar Street

From a quick observation, it appears that the strip along Dunbar Street south of 30th Avenue was developed in the 1940's. Due to the wartime economy, the houses were mostly modest one-storey buildings, and many have been replaced. Dunbar Street handles more traffic every year, so the assessments of these homes is less than if they were situated on a quieter side street. Another factor is that the depth of the lots is more shallow than the lots on the side streets. This house across from the park at the Dunbar Community Centre went up for sale twice recently, November 2013 and August 2014, both times for a bit over $1M, close to the assessed value. Interesting is the fact that the assessment of the buildings jumped from $8,600 in 2012 to $13,500 in 2013. Following the first sale, the landscape was stripped--here is how barren it looked in January 2014.

A Halloween decoration was still there in this photo from early November 2013, and you can see the large bushes that are missing in the later photo.

Built in 1944. Torn down December 30, 2014.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

It's Getting Boring

Another 1950's bungalow falls on hard times. It was for sale in July 2012 and again in March 2014. The first photo is from November 2013. Although the house looks empty, there is a wreath on the front door.

This is in March 2014; the asking price was $2,970,000, higher than the latest assessment of $2,468,800.

For months, the house looked like this. The stucco probably had asbestos.
The latest assessment of the buildings was $43,800. The block has assessments on buildings as low as $16,100, so this house must have had some renovations. Torn down late November 2014.

It's getting boring to see these 1950's bungalows torn down in the 1950's enclave near St. George's Senior School and the QE Annex. Will there be any left? Here's a count of the 51 that remain of the 117 houses (44%), pretty much in their original state on the street side, without second storey renovations:

27th Avenue north side   6
27th Avenue south side   2
28th Avenue north side   7
28th Avenue south side   4
29th Avenue north side   7
29th Avenue south side   7
30th Avenue north side   9
30th Avenue south side   6
31st Avenue north side    3

More to come...

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Demolition on Dunbar Street

The lots along Dunbar Street are not as deep as those on the east-west avenues, so they are less valuable. This one is special though because it is a corner lot and wide (64.25 feet  wide and 107.5 feet deep). The asking price in June 2014 was $1.888 million. According to someone who delivers the DRA newsletter, the house has been empty for several years. One wonders how an empty house collecting moss on its roof had an increase of over $5,000 in assessment from 2012 to 2013. Note the holes in the front from the installation of insulation, possibly a type no longer recommended. A bit of deforestation occurred in July, and this 1946 house and its more recent double garage were torn down during the first week of November.

On the corner of West 34th Avenue and Dunbar Street.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

On My Way to the DRA AGM

In July, the house at 4445 Wallace Street was demolished. That block borders the west side of St. George's Junior School, and I continued to glance down the street when I would walk by on 29th Avenue because there are five houses of a modern design built in the 50's that I thought could be vulnerable for demolition. But in my carelessness, I missed that a second house, the house just north of 4445, had also been torn down. When I walked by last night on my way to the AGM of the Dunbar Residents' Association, I was surprised by this second demolition. The address is 4435 Wallace. According to the web, it was for sale for $2.188 million at some point, $450,000 over the assessment. I regret not having a photo, but I remember it as one of those typical 50's one storey houses, like its neighbour at 4445 and like the originals between Crown and Camosun and 27th and 31st Avenues. Oddly, the land assessment is $200,000 lower than the other 50-foot lots on the block, perhaps due to "sewer easement in back yard" mentioned in one of the for-sale ads.

PS of November 2014: a reader of this blog sent me some Google Street Views of 2009 of both 4435 and 4445. Here they are, both typical bungalows:

The DRA meeting included an interesting Q and A session with politicians. Written questions submitted beforehand included 
  • How to retain heritage homes in Dunbar
  • The problem of vacant properties
  • Lost green space (needed for the welfare of children among other things) due to larger homes replacing smaller ones
  • Saving character homes
  • Providing housing for seniors to age in place 
No one argued with Adrienne Carr's statement that the greenest house is the one that is already there.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Another Disappearance

Often when a house is demolished, trees and other mature landscape plants are removed. The City requires that the trees be replaced, and adding new plantings to the landscape is required. However, the soil is usually nearly totally disturbed by the demolition and construction process. Does that cause anything  to disappear? Right now we are having quirky weather, extra warm for this time of year, leading to the growth of many kinds of mushrooms. Here are two of a group of four that appeared in my front garden this past week near my 1938 house. I also saw a crop of them today near a 1950's house two blocks away.

I am not a botanist, but I doubt that these mushrooms will grow near a newly-constructed house. Unlike the requirement for trees, no one thinks about replacing the soil so there are favorable conditions for mushrooms. I wonder how many other native species, both plants and animals, cease to thrive near new construction. Appearing along with the native vegetation are specific insects and animals. There's at least one animal that likes to take small bites from "my" red mushrooms!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Across From St. George's Junior School

This one was a surprise for me because I never noticed that it was for sale. Suddenly, I saw the protective fencing appear, and luckily I took this photo on Sunday, September 28, 2014 because the house was demolished sometime during the following week.
The house was built in 1938 on a 33x130 lot, and the 2014 assessment was just over $1.5 million. Since there was no for sale information that I could find, perhaps this is a family's project. Not absolutely every demolition can be assumed to be by developers or for investment purposes. I've come across at least two so far, and there could be more because remodeling an existing house is often more problematic than starting over, due to complex city regulations.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Changing Streetscape

This is a typical house built in the Dunbar area (and in other areas of Vancouver) in the 1930's; this one was built in 1930 on a 50x130.25 foot lot. It was advertised for sale in February 2013 as a "level building lot". In the first photo, the house sits in its context of diversity--the two houses on either side are replacement houses. The one on the left was built in 2011; the one on the right, 1987.

It is interesting to compare the values of the three houses (using the BC Assessments). On the left, the buildings are worth $1,359,000. On the right, the buildings are worth $434,000. The one in the middle is worth $27,500. Since the three lots are identical, the land value is identical, just over $2 million. Obviously, the one in the middle has considerably less interior space, approximately half the space of the others. 

 I did not have a photo of the original house on the left because it was torn down prior my collecting data for this website. However, a neighbour living near there had taken photos of houses in her area, and she kindly lent me her file to use, so here is the original 3869 West 34th Avenue house:

Regarding the house on the right, it was torn down before Google Street View, so it would be difficult to obtain a photo of it. It's GONE.

With this second photo from August, I've included a detail of the roof to show that the house needed work, no doubt quite a lot inside and outside. When a small and decaying house with this kind of low-key charm is torn down, does the neighbourhood lose something?

Torn down prior to September 18, 2014. Address: 3861 West 34th Avenue.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A 50's Bungalow Will Be Replaced With a New Dwelling

Most of the houses in this area that I call the "50's area" are modest one storey bungalows built for middle class families. This house is a bit larger, with its tiny second storey, but it was probably added later, maybe 1960. The property was sold in February 2013 for over $2.5 million and looked like this in March 2013:

In June 2014, it appeared a bit more neglected, likely being empty since it was sold and maybe before. The untamed plants threatened to engulf the house.

Torn down September 15, 2014. The untamed plants and the tree are gone. The surprise is that as of September 17, 2014, the empty lot is now for sale for $3.22 million.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Yet Another 50's Bungalow Has Disappeared

After nearly 39 years of looking out our front windows across the street and seeing the same house, this is pretty traumatic. Of course, we knew it was coming. Very few of these 50's bungalows get bought by anyone who isn't set on tearing it down and building something much larger with a second storey. It is also heartrending because we were very fond of the neighbours who lived there for many years; in fact, they were key people in the neighbourhood, helping to organize the July 1 block party and involved at the Dunbar Community Centre. One small example of their supportive presence in the neighbourhood is that they held keys to a number of nearby houses because they looked after them while the occupants were away. Their house and garden were very well cared for. I'm doing a more detailed chronology than I usually do because of the house's proximity to mine.

 October 2013: sold

Later in October: foggy fall scene

November 2013: pink sunset

February 2014: with view of mountains

June 2014: the lawn has dried up due to no watering and some boxwood, other plants, and the trellis have disappeared

August 24, 2014: the lawn is even drier, all the boxwood has gone, and orange protective fencing has been installed

August 28, 2014: during the previous several days, the drywall was removed, and the workers left the windows open

August 28, 2014: mid afternoon, the excavator arrived

 A huge truck arrived to take the debris to the landfill.
August 28, 2014: at the end of the day

On August 29, the well-built garage was demolished. The demolition company separated all the concrete and sent it off in large trucks.

The one good thing about this demolition is that I was not home to have to witness it because I was planting a herb garden some 20 blocks away. Thanks to my husband who took photos of this demolition at 4085 West 31st Avenue.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

One Less 50's Bungalow

According to neighbours, this house was already in poor condition in 1988 when it was sold, and it should have been torn down then. But the owner rented it out to students until recently. Photos from March 2013 and July 21, 2014:

Since I heard noises, I took a slight detour on my way to Stongs on Saturday, July 26, and came across this sight at the rear of the building.

 At the front, there was increasing transparency.

On my return from Stongs, this was the view at the rear.

On Sunday most of it was down, but you could see a bit of the living room fireplace. The rest came down on Monday.

The first house on this 4000 block of 29th was torn down in 1986. Now fewer and fewer of these early 1950's homes are left. They were built for young families with moderate incomes. Now those young families (often with help from parents) are populating East Vancouver, and we miss having them in the Dunbar area.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Near St. George's School

Although this house appears to be a typical 1950's bungalow (and it was built in 1955), it has a special history known by the neighbours. There was a fire, and then it was "rebuilt from the foundation up" in 2004. It was for sale in April 2014, and I had it on my list of "photos to take". However, I nearly missed getting a photo because I was away in May and did not get over there in June. While returning from shopping on  a hot day, July 12, I was walking under the shady trees on West 29th when I heard noise from an excavator. I rushed over to Wallace Street and caught this photo at the last minute. A developer must have purchased this 68x122 property and acted quickly to demolish. The location is 4445 Wallace Street, on the west side of St. George's Jr. School.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Large House Disappears

When this 80's or 90's house went up for sale, I did not pay much attention because it appeared to be fairly modern, and it was quite large. When I noticed fencing around it and some digging, I thought maybe there's going to be a lane house. However, the BC Assessment site lists it as being built in 1951, so it probably was one of the typical bungalows that used to be in this area of Vancouver, and at some point owners added a second storey. There was also an addition on the back.

I scrambled to get a photo of it; apologies for the quality as I still didn't believe that a house of this size and quality would be torn down. The house and garage were last assessed at $456,000 (and the year before $353,000). The land alone is assessed at nearly $2.5 million.The house at 4086 West 29th Avenue was torn down on July 10, 2014, but the garage is still there as of July 28.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Four More Demolitions in 2013 and 2014

Vancouver Vanishes featured this house in March 2013, including some photos of the interior. The real estate listing described it as a "classic English mansion". The large lot is on the corner of Blenheim Street and West 33rd Avenue. Built in the mid 20's, it was torn down in late February or early March 2014 and is being replaced by two houses, which will likely not merit a second glance. One of the houses has a lane house. The style of the original house was unusual for the Dunbar area and much admired.

Vancouver Vanishes also featured this more typical Dunbar dwelling at 3635 West 21st Avenue. It was built in 1928 on a 33 foot lot. When this photo was taken on October 20, 2013, preparations were being made for demolition.

Also built in 1928, this house across from the Lord Kitchener Elementary School at 3466 West 26th Avenue was sold in November 2013 and torn down in February 2014.

Vancouver Vanishes featured this on August 14, 2013, but I do not know when this pseudo-Tudor at 3356 West 32nd Avenue was actually demolished. It was built in 1938 on a 50x130 foot lot. This block of West 32nd between Blenheim and Collingwood has had only two demolitions that I am aware of (lovely homes and gardens at 3452 and 3333). It is characterized by gracious original homes, larger than is typical for the Dunbar area. They are well kept, with pretty gardens. This one had a few unfortunate changes, especially the windows, so it was not as good looking as the others on the block but probably had the same solid "bones".

Here is a photo of the new house under construction during July 2014. Notice the two houses in the background, with their "English country garden" style. The new house with its wall next to the sidewalk will be quite unlike any other house on the street, and I wonder how the design got approved to be on this particular block of otherwise consistent traditional design. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Torn Down in April, May, or June 2014, Part II

This is my second blog of houses that were demolished around the time that I was out of the country and could not keep track.

Someone really wanted this property in 2012 and paid a lot...but they did not want the bungalow. This house at 3928 West 34th Avenue was torn down in May or June 2014.

The snowy scene was back in February 2014. The house was built in the 30's and renovated in the 80's according to the real estate listing. Likely, the second floor was added. Again, someone really wanted this corner lot and paid over asking for it. The address is 3792 West 38th Avenue, and the house was torn down in May or June 2014.

I was walking by on June 18, when I came across the demolation scene below, of this house at 3913 West 24th Avenue. Take note of the resilient Japanese maple.

This house was also torn down in May or June 2014. It stood at 3983 West 18th Avenue, and this is one of the older photos in my archive, taken in September 2010, before I knew the scope of what would be happening in the Dunbar area.

Because this is such a fine and typical character house (and why are developers not even trying to copy this type?), I did not think that it would be demolished. But it was, in April or May 2014. The address is 4742 Collingwood Street.