The Woodwards development is nearing completion. Will "the mix" work?
We tend to trip all over ourselves here in Lotusland when international media pay attention to us, so I thought it worthwhile to post an interesting profile by the NY Times on the Woodwards development. The article titled Redevelopment Project Doubles as Social Experiment interviews the developers and architect of this neighbourhood re-defining set of buildings.
If you needed to know more about the tapestry of condos, offices (both commercial and government) and stores, this article is a pretty good summary.
It will feature 536 market-rate condominiums, 200 “affordable” rental units, a supermarket, a drugstore and Simon Fraser University’s School for Contemporary Arts. It will also have 31,500 square feet of office space for nonprofit organizations, 59,329 square feet of federal and city office space, a bank, a restaurant and a rooftop day care center.
“It is a microcosm of the city,” said the project architect, Gregory Henriquez.
The developers and Jim Green are sounding confident about this project. It will indeed be interesting to see if a development with such high expectations can deliver. As Westbank Project's Ian Gillespie states, “Come back in a year and see how this social experiment turns out.”
There is no doubt that Woodwards will have a big impact on its surroundings. However, I think one year is too optimistic. Try five. Right now the buildings are surrounded by decay and empty lots. It will take years for them to come back to life.
The more encouraging change that is happening in the DTES is much, much smaller and driven by wild-eyed entrepreneurs who are cleaning up old storefronts and leasing them out as studio space for artists and small start-ups. It's this kind of "sobering up" of that drug-addled community that will encourage others to follow.