Built to the southeast of historic Gastown in the 1800s, Strathcona is Vancouver’s oldest residential neighbourhood. Near the downtown Eastside, Strathcona real estate enjoys proximity to the downtown core without sacrificing its suburban feel and heritage charm. It’s an idyllic neighbourhood with higher property values, a strong sense of community and a good deal of heritage homes.
Strathcona is an urban oasis; a quiet residential community with tree-lined streets just minutes away from the density of downtown. Reflected in its architectural styles, unique in Vancouver; Strathcona, is the only place you’ll find “Joe Wai Specials” – thinner and taller colorful homes akin to what you might find in San Fransico. Houses for sale in Strathcona tend to be well-maintained and renovated older buildings due to Strathcona’s RT-3 Zoning. This zoning, unique within Vancouver, encourages renovation and development in line with current historical architectural character. Those looking for Strathcona real estate should also keep an eye open for good deals on coach houses and duplexes. In some parts of Strathcona, townhouses have been built more recently, and offer a more modest spend for first-time home buyers.
Residents here give great care to their heritage homes, many of which are beautifully maintained and repainted to match the houses’ original colours. Though Strathcona properties tend to be narrow, many have small yards that residents use to garden; others allow their properties to grow into lush green spaces. With its quiet streets and beautiful homes, it’s not hard to think of Strathcona as a cool oasis between the bustle of downtown and the buzz of East Van.
Relaxed as the neighbourhood might seem, the Strathcona community has a reputation for fiercely protecting the interests of its residents. Over the last half-century, Strathcona has been shaped by the city’s ambitious transportation plans — and, more often, opposition to those plans. In the 1950s, Strathcona residents successfully opposed an urban renewal scheme that would have wiped out hundreds of heritage properties in favour of apartments in townhouses. Again, in 1968, the neighbourhood found itself in danger of being bulldozed to make way for a massive freeway. But when passionate residents banded together with Chinatown business owners to fight the city, they won. The freeway development stopped short at Strathcona. The city did, sadly, demolish Vancouver’s only black neighbourhood, Hogan’s Alley, to make way for the structures to become the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts, but Strathcona and Chinatown were saved — a triumph of the community’s spirit. The viaducts pass by Rogers Arena and take traffic into the city core, making Downtown Vancouver a tiny commute by car or bike for Strathcona residents.
It’s 2016 and Strathcona is again on the brink of major change. Why? The days of the viaducts are numbered. In 2015, Vancouver City Council voted to demolish these iconic eyesores in favour of a six-lane roadway, park space, and more housing development. This will likely have a massive effect on the Strathcona neighbourhood, which will find itself better connected to the downtown core. Though this may result in increased through-traffic, it should also improve commercial interests for the neighbourhood.
Strathcona may be a classic choice, but it isn’t the only option for home buyers around Hastings. Those looking to live in the area but interested in a more urban setting should look to the north. Here, you can find newer condos for sale in Railtown, the small neighbourhood just across Hastings Street from Strathcona. Named for its proximity to Vancouver’s historically important railyards, many have drawn comparisons between Railtown today and certain parts of Brooklyn around the year 2000; among the small design firms and fresh startups, you can find hip coffee shops, wine-tasting rooms and a bevy of food trucks. It’s no wonder that many young professionals are deciding to call this rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood home. If Railtown continues on its current trajectory, it will become one of the Vancouver’s coolest and most popular micro-neighbourhoods – our own ‘mini-Brooklyn’ if you will. As Railtown is another reclaimed industrial district with direct access to downtown, we expect to see a lot of new, denser residential development in this area in the coming years.
For years the Hastings area has fought a lackluster reputation for real estate, but this perception has changed as home buyers have become acquainted with Railtown and Strathcona real estate and now enjoy their tremendous growth potential. Offering a range of options for homes, townhouses and condos, these neighbourhoods are looking increasingly good for those looking for reasonably priced — but very stylish — digs, minutes away from the downtown core.