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Construction to begin on Odyssey site

Stevenson hopes club owners have been doing their homework

A rendering of the subsidized housing slated for construction on the Howe St site that the Odyssey Nightclub has called home for more than 25 years. Credit: Courtesy of BC Housing

Construction of subsidized housing on the Odyssey Nightclub’s Howe St site could begin in early fall, Xtra has learned.

The news follows today’s announcement from the BC government that the province has allocated just over $22 million to the long-awaited project.

The funding for the Howe St development is part of a three-way $225-million investment partnership among the province, the City of Vancouver and Streetohome Foundation that will see 1,006 new supportive housing units go up on eight sites owned by the city.

“Nobody’s told me yet,” says Jerry Evans of the city’s real estate department.

“I would imagine that [the province] would be meeting with us in the fairly near future to discuss timing, but at this point in time I have no idea,” Evans says when asked when construction is likely to begin.

Meanwhile, BC Housing’s senior manager of public affairs, Sam Rainboth, says the development permit for the new housing project is in hand, but the building permit has yet to be secured, which is “basically a formality.”

That means the owners of the iconic Howe St gay bar will now have to redouble their efforts to find a new space – a search that has come up empty since the club first got word in May 2008 that their lease was being terminated because of a joint city-province agreement to build 110 units of supportive housing for HIV-positive people on the site.

The Odyssey has had several leases on life since the city gave them that initial notice. Until now, the start of construction has been delayed because of a lack of provincial funding.

The club’s attempt to win city approval to relocate to Denman St in 2009 was nixed after city council bowed to public pressure from neighbours, who complained about anticipated noise pollution.

Xtra‘s attempts to reach The Odyssey’s owners and management were unsuccessful up to posting time.

“The [city] staff has, a long time ago, been told to expedite anything that comes along, but to my knowledge [Odyssey co-owner] Michael Levy and others haven’t brought anything to the city,” says Vision Vancouver councillor Tim Stevenson.

“Probably now, you’ll start to see a flurry of activity, I would think,” adds Stevenson, who is gay.

“I hope and I presume that they’ve been doing a lot of groundwork,” says Stevenson. “They’ve had an awful lot of time since their last go-round.”

But, he says, “there’s been nothing bubble up to council level as yet.”