The Yale Hotel: New lessee for SROs above iconic Vancouver jazz bar

The Yale Hotel will get a new lease on life... the upstairs part, anyway. The fate of the Yale's jazz bar remains murky.

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The Yale Hotel, as seen in happier days.

What's up with the Yale?

Council on Planning, Transportation and Environment Standing Committee has just approved a new lessee for the single-room accommodation spaces above the Yale Hotel.

The Yale Hotel first opened as the Colonial Hotel in 1888; it’s only two years younger than Vancouver itself.  A heritage building, the Yale was seismically upgraded as its neighbour, the Cecil Hotel, was demolished to make way for, yes, a podium tower.

The Community Builders Group (CBG), a non-profit that operates several single-room occupancy unit (SRO) buildings in downtown Vancouver, which provide housing to over 200 people. CBG will now get a 20-year lease, with the option for two 20-year extensions, following an extremely quick vote on January 22.

Above the Yale’s currently-dark music venue are 43 City-owned SROs. If approved, those units will be leased to CBG for... well just read it:

“As the prepaid lease of the Air Space Parcel ($10.00) is below the applicable market rate of $6.3 million , RECOMMENDATION B constitutes a grant valued as approximately $1.575 million and approval requires eight affirmative votes from Council.”

Come on, you just don’t get to see a sentence like that too often.

Note that we don’t get any additional SRO units: the existing spaces are just switching hands.

The units with en-suite bathrooms will rent for roughly $525 per month, while those with shared bathrooms will rent for roughly $424 per month.

It’s not yet clear who will take over the Yale Hotel live-music venue. When the 270-seat venue reopens, it might not do so as a blues bar. This stings, as Vancouver’s live-music scene continues to weaken. The Yale's jazz club has been closed since 2012. After briefly teasing us by turning on the iconic neon sign, owner Waide Luciak has decided to pass the torch to someone else.

The SRA Bylaw (pdf) dictates how building owners and developers must treat SRO units.

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