Affordable digs for Downtown Eastsiders
Anywhere else in Vancouver, the Del Mar Inn wouldn’t rate a second look. It is an ordinary vernacular building built during the boom years before the First World War as a residential hotel. In the early 1980s, B.C. Hydro started buying up property in the block between Hamilton, Homer and Dunsmuir to provide space for their new head office. The one property that eluded Hydro’s real estate efforts was the Del Mar Inn.
Purchased by George Riste in 1972 the Del Mar Inn has provided well managed, clean, affordable rooms for downtown residents, and despite numerous efforts to purchase the property – George Riste told the Vancouver Sun that he must have been asked more than 100 times to sell – it continues to do so. A small, hand-painted sign over the entrance reads: “This property is not for sale and it has not been sold. Thank you. The Owner.” The 30-room hotel once was popular with passengers from the nearby bus depot, often recommended by Greyhound drivers. Today, it operates as a single-residency occupancy hotel for low-income individuals.
Supporting the Arts
The building originally housed an auctioneer’s showroom at street level. This later became an art-supply shop and, by the mid-1960s, the Bau-Xi gallery. It has been an art space ever since. Apart from providing necessary housing, Riste has supported the arts by providing reasonable rents to a number of non-profit arts groups including The Contemporary Art Gallery, Belkin and Or galleries.
“Unlimited Growth Increases the Divide”
It was in 1990, during the tenancy of The Contemporary Art Gallery that George Riste collaborated with artist Kathryn Walter to create the slogan and public art piece “Unlimited Growth Increases the Divide” which adorns the facade of the building. Consisting of 7” copper letters permanently attached to the building it addresses “powerplays that constitutes normal business in the world of real estate development.”
History of the Building
The building permit from March 1912 is for $33,000 for A.E. Hansen, designed and built by W.P. White, a Seattle-based architect as the Cadillac Hotel. The proprietor, William Jureit, lived on the property. Although W. P. White only practiced architecture in Vancouver for two years, he designed several multi-storey apartment buildings in the downtown area, including the Sylvia Apartments in 1911-12 (now the Sylvia Hotel).
- Michael Riste. The Del Mar: Celebrating 100 Years, 1912-2012. 2012.
- Tom Hawthorn. “The heartfelt hotel.” The Globe & Mail. November 30, 2010.
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