Ritz-Carlton tower site is not dead… yet.

The Ritz-Carlton hotel-condominium project, which was written off as dead because of the ongoing economic crisis (and associated financing struggles) in February, may still have at least a heartbeat.

The sleek highrise, designed by Arthur Erickson with a unique twisting design, was slated for construction on Georgia Street across from the new Shangri-La hotel and condominium project.

The prestigious Ritz-Carlton hotel was to occupy the first 20 floors of the soaring 58-storey tower, which would have been the second tallest building in downtown Vancouver.

While rumours had long been swirling about the project’s demise, the death blow for the project seemed to be in late February, when condominium purchasers received correspondence from the developer, informing them of the project’s cancellation, and the refunding of their deposits.

A recent article in the Journal of Commerce, however, reveals that the same developer — Holborn Group — isn’t walking away from the site just yet.

“…Cancelling the agreements with the purchasers does not mean the project is cancelled,” said Holburn president Joo Kim Tiah in an interview with the Journal’s Richard Gilbert. “It is not in anyone’s interest to leave the hole there, because it is expensive.”

“There is no market for the high-end luxury product,” said Tiah. “Something at the lower end of the market will be more feasible on this site.”

Which begs the question: Can the lower end of the market sustain a design as ambitious, and capital-intensive, as Erickson’s?

It will be interesting to see if, and how, the project continues. Because regardless of what happens, it will be a shame if downtown Vancouver were to lose out on Erickson’s skyscraper design, which represented a major shift away from the vanilla, cookie-cutter design of some other condominium towers in the downtown peninsula.

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