Best Western Plus Uptown Hotel in Mount Pleasant will become a permanent supportive housing site for the homeless by late Fall 2021.
The City of Vancouver announced on Friday it has acquired the hotel property at 205 Kingsway — located at the southeast corner of the intersection of Kingsway and East 10th Avenue, immediately south of Kingsgate Mall.
This 1996-built, four-storey building on a 10,000 sq ft lot contains 69 guest rooms. Following renovations later this spring and summer, it will have 68 units for individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
The acquisition value was not disclosed. According to BC Assessment, the property’s assessed value is $14.3 million, with $10.03 million from the land and $4.25 million from the structure. The site is within very close proximity to SkyTrain’s future Mount Pleasant Station.
The municipal government acquired Best Western Plus Uptown using a portion of the $51.5 million in grant funding from the federal government’s Rapid Housing Initiative. This fund was also tapped for the city’s previously announced acquisition of Days Inn by Wyndham Vancouver Metro Hotel at 2075 Kingsway for its conversion into 65 units of supportive housing.
“Today’s announcement is another shining example of what happens when the federal government teams up directly with cities like Vancouver to help people who need it most,” said Mayor Kennedy Stewart in a statement.
“But housing alone is never enough, and that’s why I am also grateful for the ongoing support of the Province of British Columbia in funding the critical supports and services that help put our neighbours on a pathway of health and hope. Breaking the cycle of homelessness can be done; it just takes partnerships like these.”
Through BC Housing, the provincial government will support a non-profit operator’s annual operating costs for the supportive housing site over 20 years.
The conversion of Best Western Plus Uptown adds to the immediate area’s existing cluster of supportive housing. Just a block to the southeast at 395 Kingsway, the former Biltmore Hotel has been operated by RainCity Housing and Support Society as 95 units of supportive housing since 2014.
By the end of 2021, nearly 450 new supportive housing units and indoor shelter beds will be added across the city.
This is being accomplished through the two Kingsway hotel properties acquired by the municipal government, and other hotel acquisitions by the federal and provincial governments.
Major acquisitions announced over the past few weeks include Hostelling International’s 80-room Vancouver Central Hostel at 1025 Granville Street, which was frequented by students and backpackers prior to the pandemic, as well as the 195-room Patricia Hotel at 403 East Hastings Street and the 80-room Ramada Limited Vancouver Downtown at 435 West Pender Street.
About 100 of the new supportive housing units will be temporary from the opening of the modular structures at the city-owned site at 1580 Vernon Drive, just northeast of Home Depot in the False Creek Flats. Construction began last month and is expected to reach completion this summer.
As well, by the end of this month, as a strategy for the complete decampment of Strathcona Park, two shelter locations will open at the former Army & Navy store at 15-27 West Hastings Street in the Downtown Eastside, and a city-owned warehouse at 875 Terminal Avenue just north of Home Depot. Both shelters will have a combined capacity of 120 beds.