The Main St property will eventually be demolished, but for now it will be a hive of artists
Before the aging City Center Motel disappears, it will 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 restorer and property manager, heard about the sale, he decided to cold call them directly.
“I’ve been very active in creating fun cultural venues,” Duprey said. Vancouver is great. “I’ve taken empty buildings all over Vancouver and turned them into artist spaces.”
He’s been involved in a few different projects, from big warehouses to Fox and Rickshaw theaters.
In this case, the property will spend a few years in limbo as the city’s Broadway plan is fleshed out. With the new subway line, the city is considering changes along the main street, which means the City Center Motel will eventually be revamped, but it’s too early to start.
Duprey says he was able to convince Nicola Wealth Management to come on board and then the Vancouver Mural Festival.
“I sucked the mural festival into it, called them up and asked if they’d be interested in helping me with that,” he says.
And by “this,” he means an “artistic, crazy, super fun hub”; each of the motel’s rooms will be transformed into a studio, providing workspace for more than 75 artists while the property is in limbo. Duprey says he signed a lease for a minimum of two years, and it could last longer depending on the redevelopment schedule.
“It’s a emphyteutic lease, but there is a demolition clause after two years,” he explains.
He hopes it will last longer, but is content with two years.
At the end of this timeline, he hopes the first artists will settle in the new year.
“We’re going to take ownership this month and clean the place up, so hopefully we’ll have people in January,” he says.
It works with the Mural Festival to review artist requests for the space. He expects the monthly rent for the private workspaces (which are essentially motel rooms without the furniture) to be around $575 to $675 per month. While other spaces he runs have been occupied by groups and artists, he expects these spaces are more likely to be used by individual visual artists.
Once it’s up and running, he says the mural festival also has great ideas for the space.
“They’re going to come into this building and do some crazy stuff in there,” he said.