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

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Dunbar Not in Bloom

I first noticed this house many years ago because the front garden was part of the "Dunbar in Bloom" tour during Salmonberry Days. At that time, there were not many walled front gardens. This one was full of Cranes-bill geraniums waving in the breeze. I was struck by the beauty of the small garden. The mailbox sitting on the fence was a permanent contribution to "Dunbar in Bloom." Let's hope the owners took it with them. The house, with those large French doors which you can see in the background beyond the mailbox, was built in 1925 and demolished in November 2015. These photos were taken in March 2011 when it was sold.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Giants Marching In

An article entitled "Giants Marching In" in the Seattle Times of November 27, 2015 states that between 2012 and 2014, over 1,500 small houses were demolished to make way for larger ones in King County. Although this situation sounds similar to ours in Vancouver, there are differences, the number of the demolitions being one.

From the article:
I talked about this with Ballard-based real-estate agent Greg Stamolis, who works with spec builders both in acquiring properties for teardown and later selling the new home when it’s completed.
I asked Stamolis to profile the typical buyer, but other than having good incomes, he says it’s a little hard to generalize. Many are recent arrivals who’ve moved to the area for work, but it’s also common for buyers to already live in the neighborhood, only in a smaller property that they feel no longer meets their needs. Rather than undergo a complete remodel of their present house, they decide to purchase a larger new one.

Stamolis, who is a Seattle native and a Ballard resident, acknowledges these new houses are not always welcome additions to the block: “It can be hard for people who live in these older neighborhoods to see this kind of rapid change. When you have a 1920s neat, older bungalow, and then it’s torn down for a 3,000-square-foot house, it’s always an adjustment for the neighborhood. It kind of breaks the character of the neighborhood, which I understand. And it’s a disruption, because construction takes six months.”
But once the dust settles, he says, it doesn’t take long for things to go back to normal.
“After people meet the new neighbor, they are more comfortable. Very quickly, they become part of the neighborhood.”

The entire article is available here. The photos show that, in general, the state of the older small home being demolished in Seattle is in huge contrast to that of the well-kept and renovated house in Vancouver that is trashed.
Like Vancouver, Seattle is a city that attracts people who want to live there. Also like Vancouver, there are not enough "starter" houses. However, there are a few, at prices that would astound Vancouver residents. Here is an example of a "starter" in the Rainer Valley section of Seattle; the photos are taken six months apart. The run-down house had an extreme renovation, a significant part of it a do-it-yourself project by the intrepid owners.

And they made raised beds for vegetables!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

A bit of Dunbar History

On Saturday, November 28, the Dunbar Branch of the Vancouver Public Library celebrated its 65th anniversary. As part of the celebration, John Atkin led a 1 1/2 hour tour of a few blocks near the library. The first stop was on 29th Avenue just west of the library where there are two good examples of 1920's houses on the north side.

     These houses are well built with overhangs to catch the rain and  three coats of stucco. John said that in the 1920's a typical family living here would employ a staff person. The south side of the street was developed in the late 1930's. 
     Dunbar's most prominent building was built in 1910-11 as the Convent of the Sacred Heart, now St. George's Junior School. John praised the school for its careful restoration of the main stone building and of the brick power house. Dunbar's wide streets, wide boulevards, sidewalks, street trees, and set-backs are thanks to regulations adapted from 1922 bylaws of the municipality of Point Grey. These bylaws were intended to promote the value of the community, quality, and livability. 
     John then took us to see some lovely homes on West 26th Avenue, a two-block area between Dunbar Street and Chaldecott Park. I was inspired to do more investigation of that area. Unlike other blocks in the Dunbar area, the 3800 block of West 26th Avenue west of Dunbar has been a stable neighbourhood in recent years. On the north side the houses are generally large, and new ones would not be allowed to be much larger, so there is little incentive to demolish. One house was built in 1989 and another in 1997 but the rest were built between 1927 to 1930. Here are some examples of the lovely original houses that fortunately remain to be admired in their context:

The above photo shows a peak of the one new demolition, 3803 West 26th, that I have not mentioned yet. The original house was built in 1930 and perhaps an enlarged second storey was added. The house was large as you can see on these photos from 2012 when it was sold. (It was sold again in 2014.) The new construction may be for a larger house.

     On the south side of the 3800 block of West 26th Avenue, many of the houses were built in 1925 and one each in 1927 and 1928. There is only one replacement house, built in 1996. Many of the houses have been enlarged, so there is stability there as well.
     The 3600 and 3700 block have more variability, with two homes being readied for demolition and four Vancouver Specials, but a lot of those solid 1920's houses remain, many of which are renovated. Many blocks in the Dunbar area (and elsewhere) are a hodgepodge of Vancouver Specials, 1980's boxes, 21st century modern, empty imitation craftsman, or homes being prepared for demolition, with only a sprinkling of original houses. The number of originals (and renovated originals) on West 26th is something to treasure.

West 26th Avenue is a quiet street with majestic trees. However, Stongs is coming...

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Vancouver Vanishes into a Book

Vancouver Vanishes launched a book on November 23! The enthusiastic and large audience at the Book Warehouse was keen to keep Vancouver's older homes from demolition. My 1938 house  has the flooring ubiquitous to many of the unfortunate houses now gone to smithereens.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Near Pacific Spirit Park

The next-door neighbour alerted me that this house would be demolished today. The first photo was taken in July 2011 when it was for sale. But according to the BC Assessment website, no sale occurred. Notice the greenery.

It was put up for sale again in May 2014. The "bluebells" came up and are flowering despite the attempt a few months before to pull out all the bushes for a barren desert-type landscape. The place was gussied up with nice potted plants on the entrance steps, but no attention was paid to repairing the fence.

The house was finally sold in November 2014. This third photo is from April 2015. Somehow, the large tree in the front has also disappeared.

The house probably suffered some abuse from years of being rented out, evidenced by the garage (which was still there tonight) full of the detritus of the rented house, a mattress, broken chairs, the odd sock, and much more. Built in 1938 on a 44x131 foot lot. Demolished November 6, 2015.

P.S. Here is the scene 2 days later; the garage is gone.

And this is from a neighbour: "Vancouver archives notes a building date of 1930 for 4085 west 33rd ave." I got the 1938 date from the BC Assessment website. I wonder why the discrepancy.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Houses of Former Babysitters

West 33rd Avenue leads to a popular pedestrian entry to Pacific Spirit Park. If you walk there with your dog or if you run there, you may recognize this house which stood at 4056. During the week of October 5-9, it  was demolished:

The house was built in 1934, but people living there in the 1970's added a second storey. When we moved to Vancouver, we had small children and were on the constant lookout for teenage babysitters. One of our babysitters lived here. The photos are from April 2015.
We had another babysitter who lived at 3981 West 36th, when this house was only one storey. I think the second storey was added in 2007.  It was put up for sale in June 2013. The lot is large, 66x130.37 feet. Walking by one Sunday, I was surprised to meet a neighbour who said that although the house was beautiful inside,  she was pretty sure that this lovely and secluded house (so secluded that it was very hard to get a good photo) was going to be demolished. Photos from June and December 2013. The house was demolished sometime around July 2015.

Too many houses of our other babysitters and family day-care have been demolished: 3649 West 31st (in 1994), 4070 West 31st (in 2013), 4076 West 31st (in 2014), and 4085 West 31st (in 2014). I suspect that none of those (now grown up) teenagers can afford to live on the west side of Vancouver. We do not have a continuity of generations in this neighbourhood because none of the "starters" are in any way affordable.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

It's Getting Boring

This house built in 1952, as were almost all of them in the several block area near St. George's Senior School, was located in an area of transition because of the ability to build quite a large house on these 52 foot wide lots. The replacement house on the left was built in 2012, but the original house on the right is still there (although not for long).

Sold in September 2013 and demolished in September 2015. Will any of these bungalows remain?

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Nicest House on the Block

Yes, in my view, this was the nicest house on the 3800 block of West 31st Avenue, a block that looks out on Memorial Park West. It was one of the original houses, built in 1937, and a well-kept example of the houses of that era.

The house sold in February 2015 and was demolished on September 24, 2015. The latest assessment of the buildings on this lot was $261,000. That amount indicates that the interior had been remodeled and probably there was an addition at the rear. In contrast some 1930's houses in this neighbourhood are assessed at less than one tenth of that amount. Aside from the skylights, the front of this house retained its 1930's look. This is a loss to the character of the Dunbar community.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Marketed with "As Is, Where Is"

This split-entry house, similar to a Vancouver Special, was built in 1973 on Wallace Street facing the heavily wooded part of Memorial Park West.

For sale April 2013. Sold May 2013.

 For sale January 2014 and sold again.

 For sale July 2015 and sold yet again. This is getting boring.

At Christmas time 2014, someone got bored with the surveyer's stake and decided to do something interesting, fitting the marker out with a miniature Santa suit! Probably illegal since it is City property, but fun.

I think the house stood vacant for well over two years. The backyard was a dump. One day when walking by on the lane, I chatted with a nearby neighbour who couldn't wait for the blighted site to be cleaned up.

Walking by today, September 18, I saw that the house had been demolished, with broken glass on the former front steps and sidewalk.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Last Seasons for a House

This house was torn down on August 24 or 25, 2015. It was for sale in February 2012, as was the one next door.

That was over three years ago. I captured photos in 2014 during spring, summer, and winter.

Being demolished is the fate of more and more of these 1950 houses built on the 4000 blocks of West 27th, 28th, 29th 30th, and 31st Avenues. This one is at 4049 West 30th. I am waiting for the next shoe to drop (i.e., the house just to the east of this one).

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Another One on Chaldecott Street

The typical bungalow at 4466 Chaldecott Street was torn down during June or July 2015. It was built in 1958 on a 54x122.1 foot lot, renovated, and sold for $2,380,000 in September 2013. The street is a quiet one and short, leading to the Chaldecott Park. Unfortunately, I failed to get a photo of it before it was torn down, so if you want to see a photo, you have to resort to looking for it on the web. Occasionally, I leave town, and things fall apart!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Another Traditional Home in Dunbar

Built in 1928, this is quite a traditional house. I took a photo through the front window, where you can see the typical fireplace and built-in bookcase. It was demolished in May or June 2015. The address is 4018 West 34th Avenue, a street with large 50 foot lots, which are attractive to developers because a large replacement house can be built.

Vancouver Vanishes featured this house on June 18, 2015.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Forgotten House

Remember the corner where Dunbar Insurance used to be?

Behind the building stood one of the original (probably 1920's) houses. The house must have had a Dunbar address but when the commercial building was built in 1939, it had to change its orientation to 27th Avenue, and because the front porch of the house now faced the back of the commercial building, the porch had to become a side porch. The revised address for 27th Avenue of "3615" could be seen on the porch post. (But legally, it was still part of 4295 Dunbar Street.)

The 4200 block of Dunbar Street was demolished in April 2015, but this house stood for a little longer. Perhaps it was demolished in May 2015. Below is a view of the rear of the block's demolition, with a tiny slice of the house and its fence on the right. Note the large tree which could have been in the back yard of this house or the neighbouring house. In any case, the tree is gone.
Some of these buildings were pretty dilapidated!

Monday, June 29, 2015

The New Replacement Houses

There is a new blog created by someone who is concerned about the size of the houses replacing the ones that are demolished. You can access it at Yet Another Monster House.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Chickens Had to Move

As I've mentioned in previous blogs, the houses on the side streets nearest Dunbar Street are generally the oldest ones in the area. This 1928 cottage is a typical example. But not only did the occupants (likely renters) of the attractive basement suite and the main floor have to leave, but the backyard chickens lost their home and pecking grounds. The house sold quickly in August or September 2015.

During my walks, I never saw more than two chickens.
 This hen is pondering her future.
In August it appeared from the state of the back yard, that the residents were clearing out and preparing to move.
In November 2015 there was a municipal election. The one NPA sign and one Cedar sign did not have much of a chance with all those Green signs.
Here is another "bird" who had to find a new home. This one lived in the front yard. Clearly, creative people lived in the house, and I wonder where they moved. East Van?

The chicken house got dismantled, and the back yard eventually did get cleared out, but are those old paint cans in the garage? Vancouver Vanishes was concerned about toxics.
This house was demolished sometime between May 21 and June 21, 2015. Possibly a lane house will be built on this lot bordering two lanes. What is lost? Green space, local fresh eggs, an original Dunbar house, and likely an inexpensive place to live for two interesting families.