Project Description

In 2020, Community Impact Real Estate Society (CIRES) engaged Hessey to provide a functional programming study to facilitate the temporary and/or permanent relocation of the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House (DTES NH) due to a planned base building major renovation project.

After completion of the study, Hessey’s project management services were retained to take the project from the pre-design phase to occupancy. 

About the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House (DTES NH)

The DTES NH is a community-based, volunteer-driven organization serving Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) neighbourhood since 2005. The DTES NH provides a broad range of low-barrier programming and educational, leadership, social, and recreational activities with the goal of cultivating a healthy and thriving DTES community. 

Project Goals: 

Phase 1: Functional Programming Study (Completed)

Provide the DTES NH with a clear understanding of current and potential programs to be accommodated, as well as the functional criteria to be met, as part of its temporary relocation and/or eventual move into a permanent leasehold location.  The DTES NH requires a temporary location while BC Housing is performing a major renovation at their permanent home at 573 E Hastings. 

Hessey recognized that the project provided opportunities for the DTES NH to evaluate its current operations and explore facility options that both better accommodate community members and revitalize the DTES NH as an attractive and resilient community hub for neighbours, staff, and volunteers. Towards this vision, Hessey conducted a comprehensive review of the DTES NH’s operations and programming in order to better understand the DTES NH’s space needs, key success factors, and community members served. This process also allowed Hessey to more clearly define the opportunities involved in a temporary or permanent relocation. 

Hessey prepared and proposed two major options which allowed for flexibility in planning the relocation, where Option A corresponds to the DTES NH exercising right-of-return to its current location, and Option B explores the option of an improved and expanded space that allows the DTES NH the ability to offer new programming and greater flexibility in space utilization. Each option was developed in full detail, including facility size and capacity, annual community programming hours, multi-purpose space utilization, and more. 

In addition to a traditional functional program, Hessey also produced information in coordination with external organizations to maximize the impact of the planning document.  Hessey coordinated with a potential major landlord in order to advocate for potential shell space upgrades at an opportunity site.  Hessey also coordinated with representatives of government funding programs to ensure that the content and format of the functional program met the needs of major grants.  As part of that work, Hessey coordinated with the Curve Group (construction managers) to complete a Class ‘D’ costing exercise for both major program options.  Finally, Hessey introduced DTES NH to architect Perkins + Will’s Social Purpose program in order to arrange for future pro bono consultant services. 

Phase 2: Comprehensive project management services for the temporary and permanent locations of DTES NH. (Ongoing)

Hessey’s services were retained for comprehensive project management of this multi-year project, including review and discovery with DTES NH stakeholders, budget management, site feasibility studies and overseeing the full cycle from build-to-occupancy of the selected locations.

The first part of this phase encompassed review and discovery in conjunction with architectural services and the DTES NH, including the development of project scope, understanding approval processes, visioning exercises, and review of functional program and capital budgets.

The next part of the project included selecting a temporary “swing” site during the base renovation. Hessey’s services included site feasibility reviews, obtaining site information from the City of Vancouver and landlords, obtaining site surveys, and advising the DTES NH on activities during the leasing process.

Upon site selection, Hessey will provide project management services required for each site, including, but not limited to:

  • Activities involved in obtaining building permits
  • Preparing tender documents and obtaining construction permits 
  • Comprehensive design and construction project management
  • Identifying project risks and implementing risk mitigation strategies
  • Connection to funding programs to support the project\
  • Project team identification, procurement and management
  • Connection to pro-bono consultant services to support the project
  • Project volunteer management
  • Ongoing budget tracking
  • Achieving consensus-based approvals
  • Post-construction services, including addresses deficiencies and warranty procedures
  • Assisting with documentation required for funding programs accessed by the client


Shaugn Schwartz, Community Impact Real Estate Services (CIRES)
Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House (DTES NH)
Matt Piry, Curve Group
Jocelyne Belisle, Perkins + Will
Barry Thorson, Thorson Consulting 
Dave Wong, WHG Design 
Eric Cresswell, AME Consulting Group
Birinder Walia, Archos Engineering Consultants
Activate DTES funding program




Pre-design Services
Project Management