555 West Cordova Street is the parking lot adjacent to Waterfront Station, located on the edge of the Downtown and Gastown districts.
Currently home to an underused and uninviting parking lot, the heritage value of 555 West Cordova Street exists in its association with its environment. Surrounded by heritage buildings such as Waterfront Station (1914) and the Landing (1905/1913), 555 West Cordova Street offers magnificent views of Burrard Inlet, the harbour and the mountains north to Vancouver. It is one of the last vacant building sites in Downtown Vancouver that provides the potential of connecting people with the city’s land, water, history and culture.
555 West Cordova is subject to the lack of a coherent policy, since different City of Vancouver policies can be applied to the site. The site is zoned within the Downtown District and is a part of the Central Waterfront Hub Framework area. The outdated Central Waterfront Hub Framework (2009) focuses on the creation of a new transportation hub and the opportunities for the introduction of high density, mixed-use development in the area, and is currently being reviewed by the City of Vancouver and other stakeholders, such as the Port of Vancouver.
Owner of the site, Cadillac Fairview first proposed a highly controversial development for this site in 2014. Dubbed The Icepick, but officially named The Crystal at Waterfront Square, the proposal consists of a 26-storey office space building with public access to the first four stories. The proposal was rejected in 2015 and its latest revision of 2020 was postponed indefinitely. More information about the proposal can be found here.
What should the future of this site look like?
There are great opportunities to enhance the public connection to the area, such as a public space where knowledge about First Nations stories of place, the histories of Gastown and Downtown, the transnational movement of people through rail transport and the area’s built environment can come together. As part of a revised Central Waterfront Hub Framework, the site can be used as a plaza that provides access to the waterfront, one that invites Vancouverites and tourists to explore the city’s location within a stunning natural environment, its important economic position as a harbour city, and its rich cultural history.
Photo by Ben Geisberg
We acknowledge the financial assistance of the Province of British Columbia