107-year old Vancouver log home may get torn down for three new houses

The Point Grey landmark — which is rated Heritage A, Vancouver’s highest ranking — has one of the great views in the city

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A large log house at 4686 West 2nd Ave. has been a Point Grey fixture since it was built in 1917.

The property stretches over three lots and boasts some giant trees, creating a park-like vibe. Sitting on the porch feels like being transported to another era.

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But being located on three 33-foot lots makes it a prime site for redevelopment. Developers Munish Katyal and Sapna Rani Katyal purchased the property in November 2022 for $8.5 million, a steep drop from the original listing price of $16 million.

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Last September, the new owners submitted a proposal to build a new house on each of the three lots with new addresses: 4684, 4688, and 4692 West 2nd.

“There are three permit applications for single detached homes in progress for 4686 West 2nd Ave.,” said an email from city staff.

“The existing Heritage A building is being reviewed as a part of the permit review process. This building straddles two lots, which creates challenges for retention because it would be difficult to comply with regulations while retaining the building.

“At this time, the demolition permits are pending development permit and building permit approval.”

Some developers may have been scared off because the log house is on Vancouver’s heritage register. It is rated Heritage A, the highest ranking, which means tearing it down will probably require some serious negotiations with the city.

“(The developer) cannot get a demolition permit until he has new development permits in place,” said former Vancouver planner Sandy James.

“Secondly, he has to get a director of planning agreement to demolish the house, and that would have to be for very significant reasons.”

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James said that a developer could work on a Heritage Revitalization Agreement with the city to keep the existing heritage house and build around it.

“The normal practice is that the development permit would be knocked up to one of the city’s architects, who can work with the developer to assign the same density that they would have with three lots, but (retain) the house,” she said.

New owner Munish Katyal runs KVA Developments in Surrey. Phone calls to the company were not returned this week.

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The den inside a log home at 4686 W. 2nd in Vancouver. Photo by Jason Payne /PNG

Heritage expert Don Luxton said allowing a Heritage A building such as this to be torn would send a message to developers.

“In general, the city has had a pretty effective heritage program, given the lack of support of senior levels of government and all those other issues,” he said.

“We know the city is left on its own. But it also has the tools under the Vancouver Charter to negotiate, and it has a lot of power. It always kind of drew the line at A-listed buildings. We never really lost many over the years.

“(But) if it can happen that quickly and that easily on this site, that would send a huge message, that it would be easier to demolish now.”

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The log house was owned for over seven decades by Jean Fahrni, who held countless events in the home for cultural organizations. Fahrni died June 2, 2019, and her family put the property up for sale.

It may seem unusual that the developers want to build single-family homes on the property, given that under the new density rules introduced by the city and province you could build multiple units on each lot.

But in pricier areas such as Point Grey, single-family homes still bring the most money.

“The truth is, there’s always going to be more money in property that is sold for detached family housing,” said James. “It will always be more expensive, and it will always be more exclusive. That’s shown with this example.”

If the developer is allowed to tear down the heritage home and build three new houses, they got a bargain. The Katyals paid $8.5 million, or $2.83 million per lot.

A search on B.C. Assessment shows that the four houses on 33-foot lots east of the property have an assessed value for the land alone of $4.5 million per lot.

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The logs on the exterior of the house were floated up from the Sunshine Coast. Photo by Jason Payne /PNG
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The dining room of the house in Sept. 2022. Photo by Jason Payne /PNG

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