UPDATE: Apparently the new owners (condo developers by trade) don’t take the building over until September. The current owners have hiked leases. The folks managing the place are the ones taking off on the 20th. The present owners claim business as usual will continue after the 20th. Any changes to the building would likely entail rezoning requirements being met and approved by City Council. A grassroots save-the-Waldorf campaign has begun, and a lot of loud rallying cries are getting out there. So, in short, nothing is resolved, and no end is in sight, but the Waldorf may not be going anywhere yet.
On January 20th, the Waldorf Hotel on Vancouver’s East Side will be closing.
Another one bites the dust.
When I left Vancouver, I fell in love with the fact that Victoria protects its heritage, maybe to a fault, because the 1960s saw the city changing too fast, and its Council moved to begin protecting heritage.
Because that’s what Councils do.
Not in Vancouver, though.
“A condo, you say? Oh, we LOVES the condos. Yes, please. Raze it all. Down it goes. Shiny. That’s what we want. Shiny new condos. EVERYWHERE!”
You know what’ll happen?
The Waldorf will get torn down. A condo development will go up. Something very art-deco-y. There’ll be a pineapples-and-palm trees motif throughout, I guaran-fucking-tee you. And then they will market the living shit out of the development as “Formerly The Waldorf.” You can live here, bust out your skinny jeans, and tell people you live in “Formerly the Waldorf.”
Vancouver’s now a city of places that were Formerly Something More Cool Than What You See Now.
It all blends away to some redundant post-modern city-of-glass design you’ve seen somewhere else down the same road, except they high-jacked this aspect of that era and try to sell it to you as something inspired by the past, when, in fact, the whole thing came tumbling the fuck down because, hey, who needs the past, anyhow? We’re just a vapid yoga-pants wearing town now, baby! Or, well, if we keep trying, we sure can be.
And now our good buddy Mr. Mayor’s out on The Twitter pretending he’s sad that the Waldorf is meeting its demise so some asshole designer can bust out his pineapple stencil on stamped concrete and sell it for $799,000 to yet another asshole hipster with too much dough and desperately needing post-modern-condo-owning street cred with his hipster-asshole friends.
The last time I was in The Waldorf, I saw one of the greatest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of saying was a friend play his goddamned heart out on a drum kit while dudes from The Odds jammed with him, because he (and they) knew he would be dead, literally dead, in a matter of weeks. And he was.
When I see the Waldorf, I see my friend Derek K. Miller banging the living hell out of his drums. I see everything he stood for. I see the reason I re-evaluated my life, said “I’m outta here,” and left town. I see one of the most impactful nights of my life.
The Waldorf isn’t a BAR. It’s not a HOTEL. It’s a cultural meeting point. A place where worlds collided, ideas were born, and generations got bridged.
The Waldorf MEANS something. It means A LOT.
That land, that didn’t have to become just another condo. It didn’t. It doesn’t. So many properties in that area mean nothing but have all the geographical cachet of The Waldorf, and are ripe for redevelopment. But are they slated?
No. Just a place that changed lives, created friendships, and rocked all fucking night long.
Vancouver City Council, you disgust me for allowing this cultural collapse of all the neat places just for the sake of condo sales. Don’t make it so easy. Hell, let’s go one further. Stop encouraging it.
Today is a sad, sad day for Vancouver’s cultural community.