Tides Renewal Centre Springs to Life

The Tides Renewal Centre is springing to life. The exquisite renovation of the Flack Block by Robert Fung and Salient Group stands kitty corner from Victory Square on the Cambie and Hastings adjacent to the Woodward’s redevelopment.

This intersection was once the centre of the City. Victory Square was the original site of the Courthouse - across from it rose the Flack Block in 1898, one of the largest and most elaborate buildings in the city at the time. (Yes, the Dominion Building was a late comer to the ‘hood).  The location alone ensured it would become a local landmark.  The Klondike gold rush spurred a building boom in the 1890’s on Hastings Street, as Vancouver was one of the main supply centres for those heading to the gold fields. For decades afterward, Hastings Street remained the central shopping district in Vancouver.

Thomas Flack actually found gold in 1897 in the Klondike.  And with that money, in 1898 he began construction on William Blackmore’s Romanesque Revival design.  The Flack Block was home to small retailers on the ground level, and offices of barristers, insurance agents and mining brokers above, and was home of the original Bank of Vancouver early in the last century.   Gold dealers and jewellers inhabited the building making use of the 10 or so massive vaults – many of which remain in the building. A jazz club speakeasy, a basement level bathhouse, many small businesses, some legal, some not, graced the floors of Flack over 100 years and through the decline of the neighbourhood, until Robert Fung brought it into the modern era - another of old Vancouver's treasures restored and preserved.

Patching together municipal and federal government programs, and bringing in some risk investment made it possible.  A seismic upgrade, installation of modern utilities, the faithful restoration of exterior stonework using old photographs, adding a floor on top, installing new glass brick in the sidewalk, adding a modern elevator while maintaining the presence of the original, were all part of the base building restoration and modernization completed before Salient handed over four floors of office space to the Tides Renewal Centre.

For the interior finishes, we set a goal of Gold level LEED certification for Commercial Interiors.  Our efforts have been guided by Shelley Penner and her team, who worked with Martha Burton, our project manager and the visionary of our multi-tenant shared space.  It has been enormous investment of time and energy, and a labour of love.  Kudos to them for outstanding work. 

We built at the peak of construction costs, just in time to catch the bottom dropping out of the lease rate market across North America. Even so the excitement of gathering together pioneering social entrepreneurs in this diverse and re-emerging neighbourhood filled with schools, NGOs, arts and culture, restaurants, and great transit, has Lynne Whenham and myself touring prospective tenants through the building daily.

Renewal, Tides Canada, Hollyhock Leadership Institute, Penner & Associates, Forest Ethics, Raised Eyebrow, and Rainforest Solutions Project, will all be in by mid February.

As of this writing, we have several spaces still available. 

  • The 5th floor penthouse with wrap around deck is extraordinary and unique in the city. 5000+ square feet.
  • A large space with two suites, one facing Hastings and one on the quiet interior courtyard (soon to have a "living wall" of BC coastal ferns and flowers) that are joined in the middle with a gorgeous kitchen cafe on the 3rd floor.
  • Two other 1000+ square foot suites are under negotiations.

And there will be opportunities for the many one and two desk users or hotellers on our list. Some of those will join a larger organization needing to fill a larger suite.  We also have a few openings for single desks on the east side of the Tides Canada’s 4th floor in a collaborative open space with mini bar.

The Hollyhock Room and the Endswell Room are magnificent.  Created as shared space for tenants for meetings and trainings, we hope in the months to come to make them available on a limited basis for the use of organizations from our broader community. Stay tuned.

The feeling inside the facility has far exceeded my expectations. We are thrilled, and even gliding through the many systems and start up glitches of a new home.

It feels so good to be in there. Yes, that's me working away in the front corner of the second floor!