Built in the early 1900s for the Canada Assurance Company, the Kalen Capital Building is ideally located in the heart of Vancouver, BC, and within blocks of premier hotels, world-class restaurants and other amenities, the Canada Line and the award-winning Convention Center.
Extensively renovated and impeccably maintained, the Kalen Capital Building is occupied by a wide range of quality tenants, including lawyers, government consulates, financial professionals, natural resource companies and consultants.
Originally the site of the Leland Hotel on Hastings Street, which was built in 1887 and was a popular spot for visitors and those that had business in the new city but no permanent address. In fact, David Oppenheimer, Vancouver’s second mayor, had rooms at the Leland before moving to Hotel Vancouver.
In February, 1910, the Leland Hotel was demolished to make way for the construction of the new Canada Assurance Company building, an eight story brick and steel tower built at a cost of $250,000. At the time, Canada Assurance was one of Canada’s largest insurance companies and this building would mark their expansion into Vancouver.
Toronto-based architecture firm Darling and Pearson designed a Beaux Arts composition with a facade of decorative terra cotta on a heavy stone base which served as the banking hall for the Imperial Bank of Canada, which would later merge with the Canadian Bank of Commerce.
The upper floors were occupied by a variety of financial firms and trust companies. The top floor was occupied by the law firm of Bowser, Read and Walbridge. William Bowser would become the attorney general and later, premier of the province of British Columbia. The original plans for this building are in the collection of the City of Vancouver Archives.
Hastings Street continued to develop as one of Vancouver’s major commercial streets. David Spencer opened his department store on Hastings in 1907 and expanded in the 1920s with a large building designed by McCarter and Nairne at the corner of Seymour, which remains as part of the Simon Fraser University downtown campus. In 1929, the Royal Bank of Canada began building their new tower at Granville and Hastings, further reinforcing the area’s role as the city’s financial district.
The Bank of Commerce purchased the Canadian Assurance Co. building and the old Strand Hotel to the east in the 1950s and set about redeveloping the site as their new head office. While the Strand was demolished, the Assurance building remained but was stripped of its Beaux Arts facade and its steel frame was extended eastward and two new floors were added to the top of the building. The distinction between the old and the new is quite clear at the rear of the structure.
The new facade, faced in andesite stone, was a restrained modern take on the original bank’s classical style. The original 1908 banking hall was renovated to match the new style and all original features were removed. Internally, the two buildings were linked together, though on the upper floors the original floor plate of the Assurance building did not align with the older bank so you step up into the older building’s offices. The completed structure opened at the beginning of 1956 at a cost of three million dollars.
Five years after the completion of the building the Bank of Commerce merged with the Imperial Bank. In the 1980s, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce moved to a new office on Burrard Street and the banking hall and office building were put on the market.
The buildings were purchased by Novam Developments in the 1990s and extensively renovated and seismically upgraded. In 2007, Talia Jevan Properties acquired the former Canadian Assurance Co. building and renamed it the Kalen Capital Building in 2012.
The Kalen Capital Building is occupied by a wide range of quality tenants, including lawyers, a government consulate, financial planners, mortgage brokers, natural resource companies and consultants.