Future of Waldorf a high-stakes game with many players 0
A lease dispute between the owner and operators of the Waldorf Hotel means the east side cultural centre will close Jan. 20. The operators claim the owner has sold the hotel to a condo developer. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)
Smart poker players know if you want to win it’s best to keep your cards close to your chest. On the other hand, if you want to witness how the game shouldn’t be played, have a look at what transpired at Vancouver City Hall last week.
First came a news release from the operators of the Waldorf Hotel. They stated they were going to shut down because their landlord, Marko Puharich, had sold the property to make way for some shiny new condos. This was after they reportedly sank almost $1.6 million in cash and sweat equity into the business.
Then we learned the Waldorf had lost its long-term lease with the owner and switched to a short-term one after they fell behind on several rent payments. It’s worth noting these business transactions happened before the property was sold to the Solterra Group.
When word finally hit the street that the Waldorf might be closing, thousands of Mayor Gregor Robertson’s most ardent supporters hit the roof.
Within hours there were howls of outrage on various social media outlets as well as the requisite online petitions and “love-ins.”
Interestingly, even though Solterra publicly stated it had no plans to shut down the hotel, calls for city hall to take action grew louder.
The developer’s Facebook page quickly became the subject of some nasty messages. One Waldorf supporter wrote “you’re nothing but Solterrorists.”
Vancouver’s under-30 hipster crowd wasn’t going to stand idly by as one of their so-called “cultural incubators” faced execution by wrecking ball.
His worship, however, didn’t disappoint. With lightning speed Robertson drafted a motion to help save the building housing the Waldorf and its unionized serving staff. The city manager is now working to determine if the building can be declared some sort of heritage site.
In response, former COPE councillor Ellen Woodsworth issued a blistering news release stating “while Vision Vancouver is making a point to save the Waldorf, it has not chosen to stand up for the Pantages Theatre, the Ridge Theatre and Red Gate …”
Solterra is now keenly aware Vancouver politicians desperately want to save the Waldorf from demolition. Hence, city planners will have to come to the table with some serious concessions. That could mean increased density or lower community amenity fees for any future project on the East Hastings Street site.
There are many active players in this high-stakes political game, but odds are the developer will be the one to hit the jackpot.