Industrial buildings around False Creek have either met their doom in recent years or have received face-lifts (like the Salt Building). However, the twin-roofed 1918 Opsal Steel Building on the corner of West 2nd and Quebec has met a bit of a mixed fate.
The Opsal Steel building was used for making logging equipment back in its heyday and was part of the massive rail yard network that lay across most of False Creek. Its heritage status was revoked in 1997 and has since been vacant although it has appeared frequently on Heritage Vancouver’s ‘Top Ten Endangered Sites‘ list:
“2002: After seven years of city planning wrangling and a whole areaâ€™s density rezoning. Opsal Steel still stands, itâ€™s ninety year old structural timbers still sound, but gaping holes in the roof threaten its structural integrity. This is not so much demolition by neglect as planning by exhaustion. Heritage Vancouverâ€™s perspective is that it would behoove council and city planning to act expeditiously for the sake of conservation and support a proposal to move this plan forward before the structure deteriorates beyond the point of no return.”
After being shrouded in scaffolding, the building is finally being stripped and prepared for their new incarnation as a part of a Bastion Development that will raise two condo towers at the site.
“A two-tower residential development at the historic Opsal Steel site on Second Avenue is poised to go ahead after years of planning. Bastion Development Corporation is behind the project, which will feature two residential highrises with commercial and retail amenities, and a restored Opsal Steel building. One tower will reach 26 storeys at the corner of Second and Quebec. The shorter tower will be at Ontario and Second. The land where the car wash sits is not included in the development.”
The ‘shell’ of the building will remain intact with the two towers positioned above. Per Bastion: “Original cladding will be reused in the interior courtyard, and the iconic exterior signage will be remounted to the face of the building. The interior will feature a pair of long gable-roofed ranges with high exposed ceilings, displaying the heavy-timber frames from the original structure. A number of artifacts from the steel companyâ€™s days-gone-by will also appear, including a gantry crane and wooden casting moulds.”
While development of the site has been painfully slow up until this point, another piece of Vancouver history will live on somehow albeit through weathered wooden trusses, encased in shiny new glass.