What the hell IS that?!? Episode 1

6130 Wilson
There are a number of places around the GVRD that every time I pass them I find myself thinking, “What the heck is that, anyway?” — or, after a number of years have taken some of the edge off the curiosity, at least, “I still haven’t ever looked up what that building is about.”

Today I found myself once more standing on the street corner of Beresford and Wilson, in Burnaby, staring up at a building I’ve seen probably hundreds of times now from the Skytrain (between the Patterson and Metrotown stops), and which I never got around to researching.

I’ve had plenty of theories of course, and I’m sure you have as well.

Closed skating rink?
Old grocery store?
Industrial building of some sort?
Single screen theatre?
Oddly placed aircraft hangar?

So today, having the advantage of being on the ground and being able to make note of the building’s exact address, I thought I’d finally tackle this one, once and for all. It also occurred to me that I’m probably not the only one that wanted to know, and this could be the beginning of a whole series I think (let us know in the comments if you have any good ones of your own).

So what’s the answer?

A film studio! [link] At least most recently, anyway (it still could have been a skating rink once in its past — I haven’t ruled that out).

Google indicates that a number of studios and film-related businesses have called the building home in recent years, including:

Lens Flair Studios,
MC Studios,
GG Studios,
. . . and the creatively named 6130 Studios.

Not sure what any of these studios produced or contributed to, but I’m sure a little more research could dig something up.

As far as I can tell, the building is currently vacant, and has been for several years, but has a For Sale sign for any budding film industry entrepreneurs (or even anyone who needed a spare location to keep your 500 gallon marine reef tank, for that matter).

9 Comments so far

  1. Alen Pike (unregistered) on July 26th, 2007 @ 12:40 am

    That’s awesome – as soon as you described this series, this building immediately came to mind. Keep it up!

  2. Paul Hillsdon (unregistered) on July 26th, 2007 @ 1:28 am

    Holy crap. I always walk past that stupid building. My dad said Britney Spears once shot something there way back when. Course it’s an old empty building now, and with a recent influx of hobos around this area, it certainly doesn’t make that one plot of land very welcoming to other citizens, especially at night. I wish the building, and the few old ugly houses behind it were demolished and a condo built there. I mean, there’s condos all around it already! I have no clue why a developer would pass up the opportunity, especially with such close vicinity to both SkyTrain stations, Metrotown, and Central Park.

  3. Jeffery Simpson (unregistered) on July 26th, 2007 @ 6:44 am

    I’d like to imagine that it was a roller rink in the ’80s, and kids of all stripes would come there to skate, feel each other up and underage drink. Really though I have no clue.

    Great post, I see that building every day but never think about it.

  4. Matt (unregistered) on July 26th, 2007 @ 9:23 am

    Yeah, Jeffery, roller rink is my personal favourite as well. I’m pretty convinced it wasn’t originally built to be a film studio, even if that’s what it functioned as for most of its documented existence.

    I also wondered if it could have been a night club, or even a flea market, at one time. The internal photos (see the link, which was broken before) are very nightclub-like.

    Paul, I wouldn’t be surprised either if it’s one of the largest squatter homes in South Burnaby. And it does really seem out of place there. But like I said, it’s for sale, so my bet would be that a potential buyer is going to raze the thing and build townhomes or condos.

  5. squeal (unregistered) on July 26th, 2007 @ 9:42 am

    I’ve wondered about that building too. I imagine it was a skating rink in a previous life, but I always think about reincarnating it into a small live music venue.

  6. Chris (unregistered) on July 26th, 2007 @ 11:52 am

    I quick call to Burnaby City Planning department says that it’s (drum roll) a warehouse. In recent years it has been used as a film studio, but mostly because that falls into the same zoning catagory (M4 – which would also include light industrial, if anyone cared.) No details if it was something else before, but the zoning has been longstanding. Can’t say for sure without more digging, and I’m at work dammit. I can only distract myself like this for so long…

    Of interest is that the property is owned and plans have been launched to develop it into a high-rise. Another developer has most of the houses behind it (but not all, and not the warehouse) and is seeking high-rise development as well.

    The nice lady said if these plans move forward, and the lot re-zoned, the land between Beresford and the building will be reclaimed by the city in order to widen the road.

    UPDATE (and by update, I just asked the old-school Vancouverite in the room.)

    There is some long-past recollection that the structure was originally a curling rink (hence the rink shaped design, but smaller.) This is anecdotal, but compelling.

  7. ron (unregistered) on July 26th, 2007 @ 12:58 pm

    Great topic.

    The arched roof suggests a use that requires column-free space (is it column free inside?) – but the proximity to the old interurban line is consistent with either a warehouse (which did carry freight at one time, but not sure if the Central Park line did, and I don’t see rail loading bays, except maybe along the front in the photo) or a social hall (i.e. a ballroom near Central Park). The curling rink sounds feasible.

  8. Ari (unregistered) on July 26th, 2007 @ 3:42 pm

    I went to a rave there in 1996.

  9. Rebecca (unregistered) on July 26th, 2007 @ 3:51 pm

    awesome post – i’ve always wondered what was in there

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