As the first of our artist buildings refurbished on the DTES, 165 East Hastings came packed with an illustrious history. The structure housed everything from an after-hours speakeasy to illegal-immigrant sweatshops. In 2001, the retail storefront, a pizza joint, was shut down by the city for selling crack over the counter instead of pizza. Additionally, the roof was plagued by an enormous hole that allowed water to pour through the structure and flood the basement every time it rained.
Initially we obtained the lease in 2007 with our eyes firmly fixed on the emerging cultural scene in Vancouver. We developed 10 affordable artist studios upstairs and an art gallery collective known as Plank on the main floor. After our three-year lease expired, the landlord chose to reclaim the building and continue to operate it as a cluster of studios.