Demolish Sears and replace it with a big green plaza
Downtown Vancouver lacks a central open space where people come first rather than cars. The green spaces that exist are all boxed in by cars on all sides. This creates an uncomfortable, noisy environment where nobody wants to stop and hang around.
Right in the middle of this, we have the Sears building: a gigantic, bland eyesore that is mostly empty. It blocks the view between several heritage buildings and adds to the claustrophobic feeling of downtown.
If Sears is demolished, an enormous space opens up from Vancouver Block to the Art Gallery. This could be modeled into a huge green multi-level plaza, which would become the focal point of downtown life. If in addition, Howe street is tunneled underground from Georgia to Smithe, including all the on/off-ramps for parking, a true car-free space develops that is nevertheless eminently accessible for both cars and transit.
It would be a place for food carts, European street-side patios, buskers, summer stages, and more.
It was an eyesore when it was built and an even bigger one today. They don't even keep the urinal clean. If they don't tear it down they at least should be forced or shamed into rebuilding it into something attractive.
Matthew Boulton commented
Get's my vote! Sears is an eyesore and that would be a fantastic place for a plaza.
I think Robson Square is fixable if the surrounding space is improved.
For example, Robson street between Howe and Hornby should be pedestrianized, or at the very least made bus/cyclist only. Then people are no longer discouraged from moving from the art gallery side to the court side, and vice versa.
Personally, I like the raised pathways. Before they demolished the garden, it was a great way to escape. That little grassy hill on the Hornby/Robson side was perfect.
Elle Zed commented
Great idea. Vancouver lacks a central square / plaza / piazza - there is no true heart to the city. People need a place to meet, gather, and watch the world go by that isn't next to a street full of cars.
While we're at it, why not demolish Robson Square? I realize Erickson fans will be up in arms, but it just does not function as any type of civic space. A bunch of dead-end staircases and pathways: it does not flow or draw people in.