Our mission is to create opportunities for affordable and culturally significant businesses through their tenanting within Chinese society buildings and other not-for-profit properties in Vancouver’s Strathcona and Chinatown neighbourhoods. We do this by securing and repurposing underused spaces for community-serving restaurants, eateries, (food) retail and production, and by supporting local entrepreneurs in starting or expanding their business.
Retail and small businesses in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) are under pressure. Rising rents and the scarcity and insecurity of affordable spaces threaten their sustainability. Independent – often family-operated – shops, eateries and food producers are struggling to sustain, while others have difficulty entering the area or expanding when successful.
Chinese societies and other not-for-profit property owners are facing challenges of their own. Their boards, membership and buildings are aging, and it is difficult to keep revenues and costs balanced against rising property taxes. Many buildings have no publicly-accessible retail in their street-level units. Imagine what activation of these spaces could do for the economy, safety and identity of the community.
We want to challenge that the decline and displacement of community-minded and heritage business is inevitable and bring about a systemic change. Our approach is practical and personalized, with a focus on getting the next generation of entrepreneurs interested and ready to start their own ventures, while ensuring that existing (family) businesses reinvent themselves to seize new opportunities. This will support the local economy, improve the public realm, create employment, build the capacity of Chinese societies and other property owners, and allow their tenants to test new business models.
Illustration: Manon Garritsen; facade rendering: Haeccity Studio Architecture
We want to achieve 5 goals with our initiative:
- Help not-for-profit building owners secure reliable rent income from their retail spaces
- Create new and support existing community-serving businesses
- Strengthen local culture and history of DTES community
- Create inclusive employment for entrepreneurs and residents
- Bring more life and activity to commercial streets