Before the ageing City Centre Motel is gone it's going to become a hive of artists' studios.
The Main Street motel was sold to Nicola Wealth Management earlier this year with plans to eventually redevelop the property. When David Duprey, a local restauranteur and property manager, heard about the sale he decided to straight-up cold-call them.
"I've been really active in creating fun cultural places," Duprey tells Vancouver Is Awesome. "I've been taking over empty buildings all over Vancouver and turning them into artist spaces."
He's been involved in a few different projects, from big warehouses to both the Fox and Rickshaw theatres.
In this case, the property is going to spend a few years in limbo as the city's Broadway Plan is fleshed out. With the new subway line, the city is looking at changes happening along the major street, meaning the City Centre Motel will eventually be redeveloped, but it's too early to get started on that.
Duprey says he was able to convince Nicola Wealth Management to get on board, and then the Vancouver Mural Festival.
"I sucked the mural festival into it, I called them up and asked if they'd be interested in helping me out with this," he says.
And by "this" he means an "artistic, crazy, super fun hub"; each of the motel's rooms will be turned into a studio, providing workspace for more than 75 artists while the property is in limbo. Duprey says he's signed a lease for a minimum of two years, and it could go longer depending on what the timeline for redevelopment is.
"It's a long lease, but there's a demolition clause after two years," he explains.
He hopes it'll go longer, but is happy with two years.
At the near-end of that timeline, he's hoping to have the first artists getting set up in the new year.
"We're going to be taking possession this month and cleaning the place out, so we're hoping to be getting people in January," he says.
He's working with the mural festival to consider artist applications for the space. He's expecting monthly rent for the private workspaces (which are essentially motel rooms without the furniture), to run about $575 to $675 per month. While other spaces he's run have been occupied by groups and performers he expects these spaces to be more likely used by individual visual artists.
Once it's up and running he says the mural festival has some big ideas for the space as well.
"They're going to come into this building and do some crazy stuff there," he says.