Want to live above a car dealership?

At the Northwest corner of Kingsway and 12th Avenue in Vancouver there is a 10 storey condo tower going in above a Honda dealership.  My first reaction was huh?! Followed by “who would want to live there?”

But the more I thought about it, the more this seems like the cutting edge of a trend.

In a geographically constrained city that is growing in population, it represents a needed land use.  Car dealerships — necessary in our automobile oriented society (or a necessarily evil, if you prefer) — tend to occupy a lot of space in order to display vehicles and service them.  As land prices rise, putting a condo tower above makes it affordable to the dealership, and makes the dealership much less of a “waste of space” than if it stood alone.

But the location still leaves something to be desired.  With a  muffler shop and a Toyota dealership across the street, this condominium residence at first struck me as a post-modern, urban version of living on a freeway frontage road lined with automobile related businesses.

However, because “location, location, location” is what drives up real estate prices, perhaps units in this tower will be more affordable than those in trendy Yaletown, Fairview Slopes or Kitsilano.  And, a good elementary school is only two blocks away.  Major transit lines are equally close and downtown Vancouver would be just 5-10 minutes away by car, or perhaps 20 using the bus and 10 minutes by bike.

The next unique use I’m waiting to see are residences above a gas station.

6 comments

  1. Lloyd Alter says:

    In the early 90′s I was working on a condo project on a site with a gas station with a very long lease; we decided to integrate it into the design of the building.

    What a battle; fifteen different agencies regulate gasoline storage and transport; we had to do a blast wall and ceiling engineered to have the entire thing blow up, six hour fire ratings, it was almost impossible but we got it designed.

    Then the condo crash hit and the building was never built; remarkably, fifteen years later, that gas station is still pumping.

  2. Brendan says:

    There was a design competition between two developers in Milwaukee (Ruiven and Rana, I believe were the names) and one of them (Rana) was proposing a glassy, Miami-esque condo tower that would have had a gas station at street level. Thankfully, the much more interesting Ruiven proposal won out, though there are rumors now that that might fall through…

    At any rate, it would be interesting to see a skyscraper/gas station project that has actually been built. There’s probably one in China somewhere…

  3. Wendy Waters says:

    Lloyd, thanks for the info on design. I wondered if concern about fire/explosion would be a barrier — clearly it is, but not an insurmountable one.

    Still, not sure if I’d want to live that close to a gas station in an earthquake prone area.

    Hmmm…Brendan may be right, China would be a place to look for the gas station/condo combo.

  4. fred says:

    I remember filling up a car with gas in Paris at a station that was part of a much larger building. I don’t know if the upper floors were residential or office.

  5. Neil says:

    “…clearly it is, but not an insurmountable one.”
    Might cut out a lot of the possibility for affordability that you sought in your last post paragraph, though.

  6. We haul from many high line dealerships in the USA.

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