Heritage landmark completes while heritage revitalization program stalls

 

(April 15, 2008, Vancouver, BC): The Flack Block reopens its doors at Hastings at Cambie streets after an intensive two-year, $20 million restoration. 
 


Ironically, the Flack Block completion occurs while the city's heritage revitalization incentive program is put under review. The Flack is one of seven buildings The Salient Group is completing in the Gastown area under the incentive program.



The Flack Block – a heritage treasure fallen into disrepair – was built in 1898 by Thomas Flack, one of the first prospectors to strike it rich in the Klondike Gold Rush. Located at the commercial centre of the city and across from the first courthouse, the Flack Block was the original home to the Bank of Vancouver. In later years it hosted men's clothier E.A. Lee, but as Hastings Street around Victory Square declined, it became home to a series of pawnshops and varied illegal activities. 
 


"It was leading to demolition by neglect," says the Flack Block's restorer, Robert Fung of The Salient Group. "Today the Flack Block regains its stature as a premier commercial property, and will be the first new office space in Gastown in years. This could never have happened without the city's heritage incentive program and the federal government's commercial heritage properties incentive fund."
 


The Flack's main structure, composed of local sandstone, has been carefully rehabilitated and all new building systems introduced. The hand-carved limestone archway above the entrance was demolished during one of the building's many unfortunate facelifts, but has been re-created by local artisans using vintage photographs.
 

"After decades of neglect, the Flack Block will see a return to its intended status as one of the finest commercial spaces in the city," says Marco D'Agostini, the City of Vancouver's senior heritage planner. "It kick-starts the revitalization of this long-neglected block, which includes the new Woodward's development."
 


The Flack Block's office space has been entirely leased to Tides Canada and Renewal to create the Tides Renewal Centre, with plans to occupy this fall. They are now commencing an ambitious fitout of their space that is intended to achieve a LEED-CI Silver standard, one of the first in Canada for leased space. "We are carefully selecting from a vibrant mix of social and environmental nonprofits and entrepreneurs as our tenants, enabling groups to focus on their missions and goals, while at the same time encouraging the cross fertilization of ideas," says Joel Solomon, CEO of Renewal, a social investment firm.



"The Flack with the intro of Tides Renewal Centre is a model of sustainability, addressing economic, social and environmental imperatives," says The Salient Group's Robert Fung. "It also helps to create a connection to our past, while providing for our current office needs."
 


Working with award winning Acton Ostry Architects, the Flack Block's extreme makeover also includes a steel and glass fifth floor with a wraparound deck, with views over the revitalized Victory Square Park and historic cenotaph.


ABOUT THE SALIENT GROUP 


The Salient Group was founded in 2000 with a focus on revitalizing Vancouver's historical downtown through the restoration of prime architectural buildings. Currently they have over a hundred thousand square feet of heritage office space now complete or nearing completion in Vancouver's historic districts. The company's list of projects includes the redevelopment of Gastown's Taylor Building, The Terminus and Grand hotels as well as the Alhambra and Cordage buildings on Water Street, the Paris Block on Hastings at Abbott, The Flack Block at Hastings and Cambie, The Bowman Block on Beatty, The Varsity in West Point Grey, and the Trapp Block in New Westminster.


Heritage photographs available.

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Patricia Dunn

Dunn Public Relations

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