Spectrum of vandalism

Concord Pacific’s four-tower Spectrum has been called everything from future slums to condo of the year.  Sandwiched between the Dunsmuir and Georgia viaducts, with a Costco store built underneath, Spectrum is a condo experience unlike any other in Vancouver.

I’ve often wondered who lives in these slim pinnacles of urban domination.  I did some digging and obtained a copy of a private memo sent to residents of Spectrum tower 3.  Be advised, you may find this criminally ridiculous:

TO: All Owners/Residents of Spectrum 3, BCS2577
FROM: [XXXX XXXX], Property Manager
DATE: Thursday, May 8th, 2008

During the month of April 2008, there have been incidents of items being thrown from ‘Spectrum-3’ balconies causing damage to Costco’s glass roof top, the repairs of which are likely to run into thousands of dollars.  The management of Costco has expressed their anguish and concern to us.  While they have handed this matter over to the police for investigation … the security guard has confirmed having witnessed residents living between 5th and 8th floors throwing projectiles such as beer bottles and frozen paint gun pellets.

We would like to remind residents, particularly the ones overlooking Costco to refrain from such acts and realize the repercussions of their irresponsible behaviour that may follow.  Throwing off objects like this is very dangerous and may even prove fatal to the pedestrians below.

Let us be a community of responsible citizens and be considerate to our surroundings.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

Yours truly,


My source tells me the situation has improved since memo went around.  Before it did, things were really bad.  Beyond the bottles and pellets, at least one full-size shopping cart had been “hurled” onto the glass rooftop.

Over the weekend, I examined the rooftop and found no visible signs of damage.  I guess this means things are improving.  As a reward for my investigative efforts, I went down to Costco and bought myself a jumbo hot dog.  I ate it without concern or anguish.  It was delicious.

29 Responses to “Spectrum of vandalism”

  1. julia Says:

    you are hilarious – thanks for injecting your hot dog story. it made my day.

  2. islander Says:

    That was a beautiful story. Especially the hot dog part.

  3. blueskies Says:

    ummm you’ve spelled “rectum” incorrectly

  4. anon Says:

    Ah, I love it when spectres of recta arise; or as in this case, fall.

  5. The Urban Dweller Says:

    I can’t afford hot dogs from Costco. Yep its only $0.50 dogs from Ikea fo me. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner and all of this under $5.00! I’ll worry about the medical bills later.

  6. Brendon J. Wilson Says:

    But the real question is: did you get the hot dog from the guy at Costco with the grill-shaped burn scars in the side of his face?

    (No, I’m not kidding. There is such an employee at the hot dog stand. I’m too afraid to ask him how it happened – some kind of workplace violence?)

  7. rob bennie Says:

    Hey, no photo credit, or his he / she in the witness protection program?
    Great shot!

  8. Matt Stiles Says:

    “No, I’m not kidding. There is such an employee at the hot dog stand. I’m too afraid to ask him how it happened – some kind of workplace violence?”

    Maybe it wasn’t a grill. A shopping cart perhaps?

    And yes, those hot dogs are delicious.

  9. Skilled consumerism Says:

    $1.99 for a hot dog and a coke.
    $500-$1000/ square foot for a soon to leak box in the sky that will depreciate over time.
    Sounds like a fair trade off for me.

  10. Kebie Says:

    At Keefer Place back in the day someone used to throw dirty diapers onto the glass roof of the pool.

  11. jesse Says:

    Spectrum Costco TV

  12. par Says:

    Now, this is real journalism! I have been a loyal reader of your blog since its inception, but have never posted a response. You are a gifted writer. I just wanted to say ‘thank you’ for taking the time.

  13. JAKSUN Says:

    Is this same condo project that we walk by after a canucks game on the viaduct? I wonder if the shrubbery grows well from all the urine that gets deposited there. Who bought those ground level suites and didnt think about getting 42 or more nights a year with drunken louts throwing their weed butts on the front step. Must be nice to be seranaded by the bagpiper too.

  14. Townhauser Says:

    The building manager put locks on the gates for the townhouse row facing GM Place. It’s helped control the hooligans some.

  15. jones Says:


    What about all the girls turning tricks in the building?

  16. Canada's Poorest Postal Code Says:

    Brilliant image.

    I hope this is still on topic, but has anyone heard about the big reno to BC Place being paid for by “developing the land surrounding it”. I mean, are people so fast asleep in this town that they can hear a wild claim like this and just go back to sleep? I am pretty familiar with the geography around BC Place (bike, foot, transit), and I am at a loss to find a single viable postage stamp of land that hasn’t had a tower stuck on it already or is owned by Concord Pacific.

    Now that I think about it, I wish someone living in Spectrum would buy a mini balcony-sized catapult and take daily potshots at that beloved marshmallow-domed Expo ’86 relic.

  17. Strataman Says:

    “What about all the girls turning tricks in the building?” Actually that kinda makes it interesting I get called there all hours and am never disappointed with no story to tell! ! My wife looks forward to my tales of the night! Buy there? You’d have to be nuts!

  18. sidelines Says:

    Canada’s Poorest Postal Code:

    I’m with you: BC Place is an eyesore.

    With respect to Spectrum, is the close proximity to Cosco ever listed as a “feature” by sellers, I wonder? That would be funny (and, paradoxically, somewhat sad perhaps).

  19. condohype Says:

    For anyone who remembers what was there before it, Spectrum is a marvel. It was the armpit of downtown. Now, it houses 800 people. This is what eco-density should be: uninhabitable spaces made inhabitable with high density.

    Where Spectrum went wrong is that it’s almost entirely investor-owned. Almost no one who lives there has a vested interest in the place. There are very few owner-occupiers. Common areas are routinely damaged and owners don’t care if eight frat boys crowd a 1BR so long as they pay above-market rent. It’s a scenario that discourages good renters.

  20. Spectrum Renter Says:

    Condohype – I couldn’t agree more. My partner and I have rented in tower 3 in Spectrum for over a year and we were so surprised by how little people care about the common areas. The glass in the elevator has been smashed a few times and we have heard about people throwing up in the elevators or not cleaning up after their dogs taking a crap in the elevator. I mean I like living close to the Skytrain and I do frequent the Costco, but I would never buy in this building for investment reasons, and for livability.

    I was particularly surprised to find a lot of young people living here. When I say young people I don’t mean 25-35 year old latte, sipping, Chihuahua walking, young professional a la Yaletown. I mean 18-21 year old frat-boy-mom-pays-for-my-apartment-so-I-can-live-like-I’m-in-Surrey-but-be-cool-and-live-downtown young. I do remember this memo though and I have an idea who through the shopping cart…

    Oh and I almost forgot the frequent police presence! That’s a whole other post though…

  21. RJB Says:

    Elevators that double as toilets is a feature! Realtors, take note.

  22. Chilled Says:

    Vancouver, this country’s largest trailer park. LOL

  23. Happy Renter Says:

    This place sounds crazy. I would love to hear more. Tell me about the police visits, the prostitutes, etc.

  24. Spectrum Renter Says:

    Ok the police visits… Well last summer my boyfriend woke up at 3 in the morning because some girls were screaming below our window. There was a bunch of guys kicking the Sh** out of some guy and he was bleeding etc. My boyfriend called the police while I watched the concierge chasing after them. Cops came blah, blah, blah.

    I would say we have had cops in our round about around a dozen times since we moved here. It hasn’t been as bad lately but in early 2008 it seemed like once a week. One time this guy was getting thrown into the back of a police wagon. Stuff like that. At first I thought it sort of came with downtown living – now I’m not so sure… Rennie never mentioned this in the condo ads… he wouldn’t lie to me… 😉

    I’m not saying it is completely ghetto as there are some nice people that live here. It is just the cheapest area of downtown to buy into a new building and that has attracted young people as described in my previous post. Plus it is a haven for speculators which means everyone who lives here is renting. We know our landlord personally so we get a good deal on the rent which makes the slumminess a bit easier to handle.

    In other news – have you ever seen the amount of empty apartments at Spectrum? Tower 4 has been open for a year and about 20% of the suites are always pitch black.

  25. bdk Says:

    Asking rent that is comparable to the rest of downtown but adjacent to the DTES doesn’t attract the best tenants and since it’s cheap the folks from Surrey think it’s a better deal , to buy, and put their kids in it “until after the olympics when I’ma sell..THE OLYMPICS!”

    Hookers in the penthouse…younger folks wearing ed hardy ($300+ shirts) who don’t have jobs and if you manage to find parking on the street (no visitor parking) you get harassed by cracked out junkies.

    Hallways too narrow to get your couch in is another bonus.

    There is a unit available in the Oscar for $1150 today (through crosby) and shangri la units will be $1400 before we know it so spectrum rents have nowhere to go but down along with the class of tenants.

  26. CJ Says:

    “Now that I think about it, I wish someone living in Spectrum would buy a mini balcony-sized catapult and take daily potshots at that beloved marshmallow-domed Expo ‘86 relic.”

    B.C. Place opened in 1983. It has no connection with Expo ’86.

  27. Canada's Poorest Postal Code Says:

    CJ: B.C. Place opened in 1983. It has no connection with Expo ‘86.

    How right you are about the opening date. I am well aware of the date myself considering I was dragooned into welcoming Pope John Paul II, along with hundreds of other long-suffering Catholic shool kids, in this cavernous building back in 1984. Weeks and weeks spent practicing, flapping polyester yellow ribbons back and forth. When the big event finally happened, his holiness appeared to be fast asleep throughout our entire performance. What a bummer.

    Skytrain also opened ahead of Expo ’86 and I consider this project another Expo relic. This white elephant technology was picked for one reason only – high visibility during a world exposition themed “transportation”.

    Both of these high-cost, high profile projects were built as a run-up to Expo ’86.

    Maybe I was at an impressionable age, but it sure seemed like we couldn’t have a BC Place or Skytrain without the fact we were hosting Expo ’86. They all seemed to go together like love and marriage and Li Ka Shing.

  28. Justin Says:

    “Must be nice to be seranaded by the bagpiper too.”

    My girlfriend wants me to buy a sniper rifle, but that damned piper is hidden by the trees.

    It’s true, the Spectrum is mostly populated by renters, so the douchebag quotient of the complex is quite high. Spectrum 3 in particular seems to be a magnet for frat boys. But some improvements have been made. The strata is getting pretty quick to send out sternly worded memos that make people feel bad. The concierge staff has settled down and know the good tenants from the bad, so good tenants get treated quite well. They evicted Norm King from 15 units he was renting here, which eliminated a lot of party suites. And for a settled couple like my girlfriend and I, the location is awesome. It rocks living right above a Costco and next to a Skytrain station.

  29. ghoris Says:

    I live in Spectrum 1 (the ‘main’ building that has the pool/gym/concierge). Generally things have been OK, I imagine living in the building that has the concierge / security guard tends to discourage some of the more blatant bad behaviour. Any damage to the common areas tends to get repaired pretty quickly. Poor layout on the main floor means that people moving in with large objects have to navigate a windy series of narrow passageways between the loading dock and the elevators, which causes a lot of scrapes and dings in the walls on the main floor, but they are quite good about repainting regularly.

    The worst complaint that has been raised in our building is that sometimes people flick their cigarette butts off the balcony. This building does seem to have a disproportionately high number of renters compared to other condo buildings – I imagine that within time the strata council will start passing restrictions on the number of suites that can be rented but those would only apply to new buyers I suppose. I’ve never noticed a problem with rowdyness.

    Because the gym and pool are in our building, I do see a large number of fratty dudes and ‘party girls’ using the facilities from time to time, but they tend to be in the other buildings (the aforementioned Spectrum 3 seems to have most of them). Again, the real problem is that it is a relatively new complex (only a little over a year old) and so it has taken a while for the various strata councils to get up and running. 1 and 2 have a single strata council, but 3 and 4 each have their own for some reason. Our council has been pretty good but I can’t speak for the others.

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