Vancouver's False Creek Flats has been poised for years to become the city's hot new tech zone or its third downtown or … well, something.
But, until recently, changes have been ad hoc and scattered randomly throughout this 450-acre tract of land just east of Vancouver's main downtown that is home to rail lines, warehouses with rusting metal roofs, industrial operations of various descriptions, car-repair shops, a big-box hardware chain, and a lot of campers parked on the streets where the city's not-quite-homeless have been taking up residence.
It was in the late 1990s when the city council of the day rezoned part of the Flats for high tech in the hopes that it would become home to the then-exciting dot-com industry. That idea collapsed when the dot-com bubble burst.
In the mid-2000s, it was called Vancouver's "third downtown," as planners encouraged new enterprises to move beyond the central business district and central Broadway – still the region's two biggest office and employment centres. But there was little takeup.
Four years ago, there was a lot of enthusiasm that the area was about to blossom. Emily Carr University of Art and Design was preparing to move in. Startlingly luxurious auto dealerships opened on Terminal Avenue, the main road going through the still grungy neighbourhood. A huge new brewery, Red Truck, was built in one corner. And some very high-end art galleries began moving to the area from posher neighbourhoods.