138 East Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC
Artist's Rendering of Sequel 138
|Developer||Sequel 138 Development Corp.|
|Architect||Studio One Architecture|
|Management Company||Sequel 138 Development Corp.|
|Number of Units||97|
|Number of Floors||6|
|Type of Roof||IRMA|
|138 East Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC|
|Distance to Public Transit||Less than one block|
|Title of Land||Strata|
Sequel 138 is a new development in Vancouver’s DTES (Downtown East Side), slated for completion in 2014. It stands on the former site of the Pantages Theatre, once one of Western Canada’s most treasured heritage buildings.
The Pantages was built in 1908. It was the second Pantages Theatre to be built, and the first to be built in Canada. In the end, it was one of nearly 70 to be built by vaudevillian entrepreneur Alexander Pantages.
Though it stood until the 21st century as a dearly loved historic landmark, it eventually succumbed to the wear and tear of time, and was demolished in 2011. At the time of its demolition, it was the oldest Pantages Theatre in Western Canada, and the oldest surviving theatre in Vancouver. 
Of the six floors that will comprise Sequel 138, the upper five will consist of 79 residential units and 18 social housing units. The ground floor will be a series of commercial units, giving the building a continuity with the surrounding neighbourhood, while helping to revitalize it.
Of the many novel features proposed, one of the most spectacular is a mid-block connection to Chinatown. This open air “community link” will be across the lane from an existing courtyard, and will connect East Pender Street to East Hastings Street. The link will allow access to the ground floor commercial units, encouraging pedestrian traffic from Chinatown into the DTES. It will also be a major entrance point for residents, who will use the link to enter the elevator lobby. Just off the link, and visible from it, a large courtyard will be used as a workshop and exhibition space by local artists.
Perhaps the most unusual and ambitious aspect of the project is the financial model offered for ownership. This is a community link of another sort, linking middle income earners with the means to afford a home in North America’s most expensive city.
In an arrangement unique to Sequel 138, the CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) has approved a truly novel plan for ownership. Potential buyers with an income of $64,995 or less may qualify (with good credit and a stable income) for Sequel 138 to provide the equity for the purchase. The loan, which will be 10% of the purchase price, will be interest free, and no payments on it will be required until the home is sold (or the mortgage is renegotiated). The loan will be secured by a second mortgage against the property, registered by Sequel 138 itself. In some cases, this could result in a down payment of $0. The company’s website shows specific examples of different buyers who have qualified for different kinds of purchase assistance.
There is fierce opposition to the project from many members of the DTES community. Critics are concerned that the arrival of such a large scale and upscale condominium in the neighbourhood will displace its many low income residents. The redevelopment of the nearby Woodward’s building in 2010 has already begun to raise the property values in the neighbourhood, which has in turn, raised rental rates. Since then, the arrival of expensive restaurants and boutique stores, along with an increased presence of police and private security, have slowly driven low income residents away.
Though Sequel 138 will include 18 units of social housing, many critics feel that this is not enough to offset the impact of its presence in the neighbourhood. The difficult and heated controversy is ongoing, and will probably continue after the building opens in 2014. With its many protests, petitions, meetings and marches, the opposition has reached a scale matched only by the development itself.
The site for Sequel 138 is just west of Main Street, on the south side of East Hastings, in one of Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhoods. The Downtown East Side was once Vancouver’s city centre. At the dawn of the 20th century, it was the site of City Hall and the Carnegie Library, and it was also a major transit centre, owing to the presence of the BC Railway Headquarters.
Perhaps the biggest draw of all was the Woodward’s Department Store, built in 1903. The department store was a new innovation at the time, and Charles Woodward was among the first to pioneer the concept. The Vancouver location was the second to be built, and it was eventually expanded into a 12 storey structure, with 12 separate phases, occupying two thirds of the block it stood upon. Its presence made the DTES a major shopping destination for people in Vancouver, as well as in surrounding communities. The landmark “W” was erected in 1944, atop a 25 metre replica of the Eiffel Tower.
A slow but steady decline began after World War II. In the 1970s drug use, alcoholism and prostitution began to affect the neighbourhood. By the 1980s, shoppers were being drawn away from the Woodward’s due to the opening of Eaton’s and The Bay in the downtown core. The DTES deteriorated rapidly.
Today, it is an area undergoing change. Since the reopening of the Woodward’s building in 2010 as a mixed use building, the area faces major urban renewal. As with any neighbourhood facing gentrification, there is resistance and controversy surrounding the change.
Close to Chinatown, close to historic Gastown, and close to the downtown core, the DTES is within walking distance of many of the most exciting features of Vancouver living. But the district itself is presently caught between its emerging identity as a revitalized and redeveloped neighbourhood, and its previous identity as an inner city haven for low income and at risk city dwellers. 
Sequel 138 is comprised of two buildings, joined by skywalks and a private central courtyard. The new building harmonizes modern design expressions with traditional design elements from the surrounding heritage buildings. The window and door arrangements, the frontage elements, and the cornice and roof lines all yield to the designs of nearby buildings. However, the facade will feature Trespa Meteon architectural panels, introducing rhythmic colour patterns to the building. A combination of vibrant colours will be used, and a 22 foot wide accent element will punctuate the mid-block link to Pender Street. Vinyl windows have been proposed for the residential units.
An urban agriculture space will be made available in the form of a second level roof garden. With open sun exposure, this private and spacious area will compliment another second level feature: an outdoor, landscaped deck. The courtyard below will be visible from the deck through a pyramidal skylight. The space will showcase a large communal table, made from reclaimed wood.
To help maintain and revitalize East Hasting’s retail presence, several commercial units will run the length of Sequel 138, interrupted occasionally by concrete columns. Most of these will face out toward Hastings Street, with some facing into the lane. A visual transparency will exist from Hastings, through some of the storefronts, and into the courtyard. These spaces have been divided into small commercial retail units, with the intention of allowing small scale and unique businesses to thrive in the area.
A decorative metal screen and pivot gate will provide the main access into the building.
Layout and Features
In step with the historic buildings of the neighbourhood, the residential units at Sequel 138 will offer abundant ceiling space. The height from floor to floor is 10 feet, and some of the top floor units will reach up to 12 feet high. The suites are more modest however, when it comes to floor space, with most units offering a net area of 398 square feet. A unique design feature allows adjacent units to be combined into a larger one.
Each kitchen is outfitted with stark white counter tops and cabinetry. Residents may choose, as part of an upgrade package, to include in their kitchen a range, fridge, microwave, and extended cabinets. The bathrooms include imported porcelain tiles, a spacious walk-in shower, chrome soft touch fixtures, and a high-gloss white sink with cabinets.
A striking feature of these units (especially for downtown Vancouver) is that each of them receives natural light from both northern and southern exposures. Many of the upper floor units enjoy spectacular views of False Creek, the mountains, and the water. 
Additional floor plans, including plans for entire floors, may be viewed at the Sequel 138 website, by following the link in the References section.
- Underground bike storage, parking, and storage lockers
- Urban Agriculture Farm, operated by Local Area Growers Society
- Arts and Media Centre, operated by Liberty Arts Society
- Social Community Deck
- Community link to Chinatown
- Open air exterior walkway
- Community harvest table deck
- Ground floor commercial space
- Secured lobby entry 
|Sequel 138 Bylaws|
- This building allows pets.
- This building allows rentals.
- This building has no age restrictions.
- Barbecues are allowed on the second floor communal deck.
In terms of environmental sustainability, the most progressive feature offered by Sequel 138 is its Urban Agriculture Farm, located on the second level. There will be 3000 square feet of urban farming space, to be divided into 88 plots, each 8’ by 10’. These will be divided between residents, members of the local community, and city chefs. Routine workshops are planned, to teach residents urban agriculture techniques. The option remains open for ground floor commercial units to become cafes or small restaurants, using local ingredients grown directly above them.
Decreasing food miles, adding shade and green space to the concrete jungle, and of course, providing access to the freshest food possible, urban farming is fast becoming a new trend in cities throughout the world.
Sequel 138 is not LEED certified. Neither the condominiums themselves, nor the appliances they are fitted with, advertise any specific measures for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions or minimizing environmental impact.
- The Pantages Theatre (which once stood on the Sequel 138 site) featured, in its heyday, stars like Charlie Chaplain, Stan Laurel, Jack Dempsey and Babe Ruth.
- Alexander Pantages opened his first vaudeville theatre in the Yukon, after borrowing money from a dancer known as “Klondike Kate”. This was not the more famous Klondike Kate of New Brunswick, whose claim to the name was earlier, but another Kate who became famous for her flame dance. Covered in red sequins, with more than 200 yards of red chiffon twirling behind her, she earned herself another moniker: “The Flame of the Yukon”. (Pantages never paid her back for the loan.)
- Pantages changed his name from Pericles to Alexander, after hearing the tale of Alexander the Great.
- At the time of its demolition, the Pantages Theatre retained its original plaster decorations, including three dimensional musical instruments embedded into the walls. A Pantages “P” shield logo presided over the stage, and the original stage lighting sockets were still in place, where flame-shaped light bulbs surrounded the proscenium. The initials of Mr. Pantages were worked into the vast amounts of scroll work that ornamented the auditorium.
- Opponents to the development of Sequel 138 have formed a petition, gathering more than 1200 individual signatures, and garnering support from more than 40 groups.
- Among the opponents to the new development, is Britta Fluevog, the daughter of famed shoe baron John Fluevog, whose flagship store is only blocks away, in Gastown.
- Naomi Klein (author of No Logo) has spoken out against the development of Sequel 138.
- The dispute over the new development has spread to the Twitterverse, with a tweet from the Sequel 138 account stating: “Amazing admission by VANDU. They oppose Sequel: it ‘destabilizes the drug market.’ #DTES needs hope, not drug dealers.” This was in response to a statement posted on a website by the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users which said, “Gentrification destabilizes the drug market and that makes it more unsafe for the most vulnerable people on the street.
- History of Vancouver Website
- Sequel 138 Website
- Vancouver Media Co-op
- Wikipedia - Woodward's Building
- Wikipedia - Downtown Eastside Vancouver
- Architectural Plans - Studio One Architecture
- National Geographic
- The Globe and Mail
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