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Vancouver heritage houses kept 45 feet off ground for new development

The feat of engineering makes it so the underground parkade and ground floors can be built underneath the houses

For the last few months, people passing by the corner of 8th Avenue and Birch Street in Vancouver may have seen a peculiar sight: three heritage houses kept 40 feet off the ground by a series of struts.

This feat of engineering is being carried out as part of a townhouse development set to be completed by the fall or winter of 2022. The project, called JOIE by Inhaus Development Ltd., will ultimately weave the three reimagined heritage homes with a series of contemporary concrete townhomes. 

According to JOIE’s website, each of the one to three-bedroom homes will feature a private entry and a resident-only courtyard. The outside of the three heritage homes will be restored to their former glory while the insides receive a modern makeover. 

The three heritage homes on 8th Avenue are the Grant residence at 1295 built in 1904, the Sanderson residence at 1285 which was built in 1908, and the east-most property 1269 constructed in 1911.

Misconceptions about bonus density

Peter Kefalas, co-owner of development wishes to quell the misconception that the developers chose the heritage site to get bonus density from the city.

"That's the biggest misconception that there wasn't any bonus density, it was the city's requirement that these houses be restored."

Tony Russo, the other owner of the development added to Kefalas’ statement.

“In fact, we got what was allowed in the area and we decided with the city to collectively save the homes. Not under a heritage revitalization agreement but under a character designation," Russo said.

As for why the heritage homes are on the trusses, Kefalas explained that the homes are only just slightly above where they will be when the project is done. Crews dug underneath the houses approximately nine to 13 m to accommodate an underground parkade, the ground floors and a new foundation for the homes to sit on. 

Zebiak house movers carried out the operation of keeping the homes suspended and also moved each one to the side so another home could be added to the west-most side.

Including the refinished heritage homes there will be 23 townhouses built on the property with six rental units. As of this writing, there are only four homes yet to be sold.