The former police department HQ at 312 Main St. (at Hastings) is slowly evolving into something unique. This 100,000 sq. ft. 1950’s-era building is owned by the City of Vancouver. Development is led by the VanCity Community Foundation and CoV.
Don Alexander in the Tyee traces the people, groups, money and plans — and especially the contribution of Bob Williams (*). Some of the resulting community-serving design is based on ideas from the Toronto Social Innovation Centre.
The outcome now taking shape — what is officially called 312 Main: Vancouver’s Social and Economic Innovation Centre — represents something of a compromise between the desires of city hall, which wanted purely a tech incubator, and the social justice driven vision of Bob Williams and his allies at VanCity credit union, where Williams was until very recently a board member, and the Jim Green Foundation, which Williams chairs. . . After extensive consultation with the neighbourhood and with First Nations, a plan and a design were developed by two First Nations architects, Nancy Mackin and Patrick Stewart. On the main floor, there will be a Coast Salish-style longhouse built into the existing structure that nests inside rather than obliterates what was already there.
312 MAIN STREET BY THE NUMBERS
18,000 sq. ft. of coworking space
55,000 sq. ft. of leased areas
1 commercial kitchen and coffee shop
10,000 sq. ft. of artist studios and maker spaces
5,000 sq. ft. of performance and event space
4 large meeting rooms
200 bike lockers, showers, and changing areas
Everywhere: free Wifi and computer access for community members