Condominium developer Solterra Group of Companies has bought East Vancouver's Waldorf Hotel from Marko Puharich for an undisclosed price and is expected to build residential units on the site that has housed an iconic hotel for the past 63 years, according to a consortium that leases the property.
The site is zoned for mixed-use commercial purposes, not residential development, however, and changing that zoning would require public hearings and city council approval.
Solterra's vice-president of development Mike Bosa did not respond to Business in Vancouver's request for an interview by press time.
News of the transaction caused a flood of tweets, with many bemoaning the loss of what many viewed as a cultural institution.
Mayor Gregor Robertson was retweeted 128 times in the first two hours after he tweeted, "The Waldorf closing is a big loss to our growing creative community. They built a great culture hub."
Thomas Anselmi, Ernesto Gomez, Scott Cohen and Daniel Fazio renovated the hotel in 2010 and transformed the place from being "one of many dilapidated East side dive bars" into a "cultural institution," the four men said in a press release.
Their conversion included a restaurant, hotel rooms, a "world-renowned" tiki bar, two nightclub spaces, a recording studio and an art gallery, the men say in their release.
Unfortunately for the 60-employee hotel's leaseholders, business was slow, particularly in their first year in business. They fell behind in rent payments to Puharich, who was sympathetic and forgave some rent to give the project some breathing room, the men say.
"In August 2012, the landlord's attitude changed overnight and it was baffling. Phone calls stopped being answered. Emails and texts were unreturned. A litigator, rather than the jovial landlord, became the point of contact. The property was on the market and the landlord was using the Waldorf's growing pains to break the lease," the men say in their release.