The Shanghai Restaurant Building (originally the Robert Block and later the Coronation Block) was built in 1883 as a mixed-use development with commercial space at grade and offices and residential suites above. The stone and Brick structure occupies the full city block on King Street between Alexander Avenue and Pacific Avenue. From 1883-86 the mayor and city hall occupied the main floor while the “gingerbread” city hall building was being constructed. The Shanghai Restaurant took residence in the main level in the 1940’s.
The Historical Buildings Committee recommended that the building be placed on the Heritage Conservation List as a Grade III heritage structure based solely on its age, architectural and historical significance.
City council’s Executive Committee disregarded HBC’s recommendation due to the 128-year-old building’s “questionable long term economic viability” and voted unanimously to demolish. The demolition permit will be issued when Chinatown Development Corporation has prepared a firm redevelopment proposal –for the proposed senior’s assisted living complex- and has made a formal application for a building permit. CDC’s plan to demolish the building for a revenue generating parking lot has been denied.
Through 40 years of neglect the second floor has been destroyed from severe water damage due to lack of heat and roof failure.
The building has been deemed structurally unsound and economically unviable to repair by Ray Wan –architect working on the CDC’s development - despite no official documentation or engineering report and disputation by the HBC.
The CDC has been questioned on why they have chosen this specific location for their project as it is surrounded by vacant land. The loss of this restaurant is seen by many to be a blow to the neighborhood and downtown.