Developing Stories

The Empire Landmark Hotel Is Coming Down

by Janet Leduc
The Empire Landmark Hotel at 1400 Robson is closing soon. The current owners, Hong Kong based Asia Standard International Group, will close the hotel along with the famous Cloud 9 revolving restaurant this September 30. (click on images to see enlargements)

The Landmark Hotel just before it was completed in 1973

As soon as the City of Vancouver gives them permission, the owners plan to demolish this iconic West End hotel.

A recent photo of the Landmark towering over Robson Street.

At their June 12 meeting, the City of Vancouver’s Development Permit Board is scheduled to review architects, Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership’s revisions to the plans for the future project. Once the owners receive the development permit they are in a position to apply for permits to demolish the old and build the new. Two towers of 31 and 32 stories will replace the old 42 storey hotel. 

Design sketches showing the site as is and the proposed site

The new towers will provide housing for 300 families or individuals in the West End. In addition to the 63 units of social housing and 237 of market rentals, the towers will contain new retail on the ground floor and offices on the second and third floors.

The Empire Landmark Hotel has been a Vancouver icon since it was built in 1973. With its exposed cement exterior, It is an example of the brutalist style of architecture popular in the early 1970s. The new buildings like those now dotting Vancouver’s skyline are light, airy glass towers.

“TheTallest building” phenomenon has always been present in Vancouver. In the 1930s the Marine Building on Burrard was famous for being “the tallest building in the British Empire.” 

Today, the Landmark is referred to as “the tallest building in Vancouver completely devoted to a hotel.”

Demolition of old buildings is common in Vancouver and now buildings built in the 70s are considered old. Heritage expert Donald Luxton is quoted in a September 23, 2016 Vancouver Sun article as saying, “I am not surprised developers are starting to look more and more at demolishing older buildings given the price of land in the city core.” Seismically 1970s buildings are not anywhere near what they need to be. So you look at upgrading buildings like the Landmark and it costs a fortune — it’s easier to tear them down.”

Vancouver will lose one of its two revolving restaurants, Cloud 9 on the top floor of the Landmark Hotel. Cloud 9 is no longer open for lunch and it does not rotate during breakfast so dinner is the time to go. The restaurant rotates once an hour and offers a view of the West End and downtown Vancouver that varies according to light and weather. There is still time to experience the stunning view of the city one last time before Cloud 9 closes the end of September.

Information on the June 12 Development Permit Board meeting, including details on attending and commenting, can be found here.

Developing Story Updates

The Gabriola: The City of Vancouver has received a rezonig application for The Gabriola on Davie Street. The proposal includes:

  • The preservation and restoration of the Gabriola Mansion;
  • The conversion of the mansion into 16 market rental units;
  • Four new infill rental townhouses to be developed in the northeast corner of the property;
  • An increase in FSR from 0.35 to 0.89; and
  • No increase in height from the existing CD-1 (248).

An Open House will be held Thursday, June 8 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Best Western Sands (1755 Davie Street). Find more information about the rezoning and the Open House here

Read The West End Journal's earlier report on the redevelopment of The Gabriola here.

1500 Robson: This proposal for a 21 story mixed-use building at the north-east corner of Robson and Cardero is scheduled for a Development Permit Board hearing on June 12. The proposal includes 127 secured market rental units. Further information is available here.