The northwest corner of Davie and Burrard Sts, gateway to the Davie Village, now sits empty after its longtime leaseholder, the Shell station, dismantled its operations two months ago.
The land is owned by Prima Properties, according to documents at the BC Land Titles office in New Westminster. Prima, whose registered offices are on the North Shore, bought the land housing the Shell station, its convenience store and several other small businesses from Botham Holdings in 2004.
When Prima bought the land, then-Davie Village Business Improvement Association president Randy Atkinson urged the company to consult with community members before proceeding with any redevelopment plans.
“They will go a lot further with the support of the community than they will trying to go independently,” Atkinson told Xtra West in 2004. “It should not be adversarial but cooperative.”
Xtra West wanted to ask Prima about its plans for the site, but the company did not return calls before press time.
City planner Michael Gordon says he hasn’t received any development permit applications for the former Shell site.
Any building constructed on that corner would require commercial usage at street level, he says. But before any work can begin, the land needs some soil remediation work because it was a gas station, he notes. “It needs a certificate that the site is clean.”
Prior to Prima purchasing the land, Providence Health Care, which operates St Paul’s Hospital, announced tentative plans of its own to purchase the land and build a 350-400 foot tower on it. The tower would have housed research, ambulatory care and doctors’ offices, as well as condominiums, retail space and a parking facility. The plans were part of the Providence Legacy Project to “renew” St Paul’s.
“It’s big,” Providence spokesperson Connie Wilks told Xtra West in August 2002. “I don’t know of another plan that’s quite as ambitious in another part of the province.”
Some members of the gay community expressed concern at the time that a partly residential tower of that size could rob the Davie Village of its community feel and threaten its nightlife. They called for a public consultation.
That call was echoed by Gordon two years later when Prima bought the land. “The gay and lesbian community views the Davie and Burrard area as a very important centre and whatever is developed has to be simpatico” with the community’s needs, he told Xtra West.
Gordon confirms that Providence was interested in the site, but says “they’re not involved” anymore.
After Prima bought the site at Davie and Burrard, Providence purchased land on the False Creek Flats east of Science World, leading many West Enders to fear that the hospital’s days on Burrard St are numbered. BC health minister George Abbott says a public consultation will be held before the future of St Paul’s is decided. The Save St Paul’s Coalition says little public consultation has taken place to date.