Developer unveils plans for downtown Canada Post site


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Project billed as “the largest heritage revitalization project in the city’s history”

The first volley in the ambitious plan to redevelop, and retain, the old Vancouver post office was lobbed Wednesday when developer Bentall Kennedy unveiled early renderings of its plan for the former mail-sorting plant and modernist landmark on West Georgia Street. Billed by the developer as “the largest heritage revitalization project in the city’s history,” the plans call for four towers to be built on top of the six-storey 1958 building. A long path to construction lies ahead: the project has neither a name nor a cost estimate, and the developer has not yet filed a rezoning application.
But even without specifics, the message was clear; the post office is here to stay. Its new owner, the B.C. Investment Management Corporation, which purchased the building from the federal government in 2013, plans to build four towers, between 11 and 19 stories, that will more than double the square footage of the complex from 600,000 square feet to 1.5 million square feet. Two of the towers, backing onto Dunsmuir Street, will be residential, with a mix of 650 market rental housing and 200 condominiums. 
Designed and constructed between 1953 and 1958 as the West Coast depot for Canada Post, the complex has been cited as an exemplar of postwar modernist architecture and has become a rallying point for heritage activists, regularly making Heritage Vancouver’s Top 10 Endangered list.
The plans, by architects Musson Cattell Mackey, call for the preservation of the building’s “most significant features," with the retention of the majority of the original exterior walls. And in what might present a formidable technically challenge, the towers will be built on top of the post office structure, which will be reinforced to support them.

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