After a controversial past, the West End’s historic Gabriola Mansion is nearly ready for a new future.
Amid the 1960s skyscrapers and strip-mall shops, the sprawling presence of a stately, turn-of-the-century mansion on Davie Street tends to stick out. Like a haunted castle in a gothic novel, Gabriola Mansion—which has existed as a wealthy family home, apartments, and at least two restaurants during its 117-year history—has been boarded up for a decade. The abandoned building at 1523 Davie Street already featured heavily on local ghost tours before it gained notoriety in 2016 when the body of murdered Japanese student Natsumi Kogawa was discovered inside. But in Vancouver’s tight rental market, there’s no room for empty haunted houses in the downtown core. A development promising to convert the property into 20 rental townhouses and apartments is expected to finally begin construction early next year. The Gabriola Mansion in its current state. (Photo: Heritage Vancouver/Flickr.)
Sold to developer in Nevin Sangha of Carerra Management Corporation in 2015, Vancouver City Council approved a rezoning application for the site last November. Under the plan, 20 rental units will be available, ranging from studios to three-bedroom townhouses, which are expected to be on the market about 15 months after the start of construction. The existing heritage building, which was built in 1901 by BC Sugar Refinery owner B.T. Rogers, will be converted into 16 apartments. In addition, four new townhouses will be built on the northeast corner of the property. There will be no increase in the height of the building. Owner Nevin Sangha said the building’s heritage elements would be preserved, while renovations were needed to bring the building up to modern standards. Under the development’s conservation plan, there will be little change to the building’s exterior. On the inside, areas around the entrance, including the fireplace and large staircase, will be refurbished. Other renovations include replacing a more recent stucco addition with an addition consistent with the original heritage design. (Image: City of Vancouver.) And in terms of pricing, renters can expect market conditions. “Our policy is always to be fairly priced within our market. This project accommodates many unit types so should be able to work for a lot of people who love this great neighbourhood,” Sangha said. Although Vancouver City Council approved the rezoning application in November last year, construction is yet to begin. The next step is for the developer to submit an application for a development permit to council by August 20. Pending approval, Sangha expects construction to begin by the first quarter of 2019.