The intersection of West Pender and Abbott Streets could be used as a barometer that measures Gastown's steady change from an industrial hub to a mixed-use urban village. International Village Mall is at the head of this evolution, establishing a firm retail presence on the southeast corner since 1999. A number of other buildings have been embedded into the streetscape since then, and we travel back in time 30-plus years to witness the changing scenery.
International Village is equipped with 60 retail stores, multiple prominent LED displays, and a Cineplex theatre that anchors the intersection. Hundreds of residents have moved into the block at the opposite corner, where a highrise condominium now stands. The complex marks a significant shift from the area's parking lot-laden built form in 1981, depicted in the photo above, when the Sun Tower dominated Gastown.
The streetscape today is noticeably denser. Sorella, a 108-unit supportive housing development with ground floor retail, has blocked the lower floors of the Sun Tower from this angle. In the background at 183 Keefer is the 32-storey Paris Place, which contains 177 units, and was constructed in 1996.
Looking farther afield, the BC Hydro Centre at 333 Dunsmuir Street comes into view. The Postmodern-style, 19-storey tower was designed by Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership and completed in 1992. The 34-storey Scotia Tower, constructed in 1977, continues to be a conspicuous symbol of Vancouver's financial core.
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