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Reasonable places to rent are created in Vancouver as a hotel property is renovated and put to new use

Vancouver’s Pacific Palisades hotel towers, shown here at the Jervis Street entrance, in a 1970s photo. The one-time glamour hotel has been converted to rental apartments – the repurposing of hotel properties is a welcome trend in some cities where condo development has edged out rental construction in the past 20 years.

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The Pacific Palisades property is located on the busy corner of Robson and Jervis Streets in Vancouver’s West End. ‘What we saw was a building with good bones,’ says Andrew Abramowich, president and CEO at Austeville Development Group which bought the former hotel for $46-million.

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After a two-year, $20-million renovation, the buildings have been christened the PaPa. The LA.-style towers have been refitted to show off their clean modernist lines.

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This was a typical Pacific Palisades hotel bedroom, circa 1970, prior to the renovation. In Vancouver, construction of rental properties has dropped to near zero after the federal government phased out tax breaks and write-offs.

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Flex living-dining area, circa 1970. Mr. Abramovich widened bathroom doors in every suite for better accessibility, but no walls had to be moved. About $1.1-billion worth of hotel deals were done in Canada in 2012, and $437-million – or about 40 per cent – will be converted to alternative uses, according to a report by real estate services firm CBRE.

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A flex living-dining area now. New tenants, Joanne and Bill Moffatt, a couple from Victoria, needed a place to live in Vancouver for Bill’s work week.

Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

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Ms. Moffatt on the balcony of her PaPa rental suite. ‘It just didn’t make sense to buy in this market,’ Bill Moffat says of the softening housing market. The conversion put 234 suites back into the rental market, with studio rents starting at $1,315 a month and one-bedrooms at $1,550.

Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

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The developers, Austeville Group, have added new amenities to the repurposed complex including a swish laundry ‘hangout’ room with floor-to-ceiling windows.

Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

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Ms. Moffatt seen through a laundry room window. She and her husband appreciate the quality and modern amenities of the hotel conversion and the fact that renting an apartment gives them more flexibility.

Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

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