An upscale Urban Fare opened this summer in what was once the Athlete’s Village, built for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, and now remarketed as “The Village at False Creek.”
The Overwaitea Food Group that owns Urban Fare as well as Save-on-Foods, PriceMart and a host of other grocery store banners, has transformed the former athlete’s infirmary and tweaked its concept for a fourth Urban Fare store.
The store has the same touches as other Urban Fares—wood floors and reclaimed wood shelves, but this one has a twist which is really impressive. Staff have recycled the bricks from the Pantages Theatre and built an archway smack in the middle of the store.
The Pantages Theatre, which sat at Hastings and Main for over 100 years, was demolished last fall, but it had been a slow deterioration over a number of years–what Heritage Vancouver called demolition by neglect and indecision. In fact, the theatre was left to rot from the inside out, a pile of bricks that sat vacant since 1994. Over the years, several groups fought to save the vaudeville theatre, one of a North American chain owned by Alexander Pantages and built in 1908. But attempts to hash out a deal with the city to restore the theatre failed, and to no one’s surprised, the city issued a demolition order last year.
When the Pantages went it left more than a gaping hole on Hastings Street, it took with it one of the last reminders that this skuzzy part of Vancouver was once the original downtown core and the Pantages part of a thriving theatre district.
While the building that houses Urban Fare is new at least it’s giving a nod to the history of Vancouver. As well as the brick archway, a 50-seat restaurant is lit by antique mason jars and you can sip on a local pinot gris while looking out on the newly restored Salt Building.
Eve Lazarus is a writer with a passion for history and heritage houses. She is the author of At Home with History: the secrets of Greater Vancouver’s Heritage Houses, a member of the North Vancouver District Heritage Commission, and blogs obsessively about buildings and their genealogies at www.blog.evelazarus.com. Her next book “Sensational Victoria” with house stories of Victoria’s murders, ghosts, brothels, artists and sea captains (not necessarily in that order) will be published in November.