Thursday, January 01, 2009

Don't act surprised...

"From: rgalston@
Subject: 145 Pacific Avenue
Date: April 9, 2008 8:36:27 AM CDT
To: djorgenson@, jgerbasi@, donovan.fontaine@, petkau@, cindy@heritagewinnipeg

Dear admins of the Demolition By Neglect Facebook group,

I have learned from a local architect that the building at 145 Pacific Ave, a warehouse built in 1884, is threatened with demolition by a plan to for the purpose of building a parkade. The parkade will serve the future occupants of the Prosperity Knitwear building (1913) adjacent to it at Pacific and Lily (perish the thought we have a streetscape) with parking facilities of suburban proportions. The surviving building will have a one-storey addition that, in the words of my architect acquaintance, "looks like a new building eating an old one."

This building threatened is three stories, painted red, and is a modest product of its age. It would also be one of the oldest remaining warehouse buildings in the warehouse district. Both buildings also front Alexander Avenue. Both are only on the City's historical buildings inventory, which we all know is rather toothless. They should be on the conservation list.

He also informed me that there is a proposed project for Main Street that might demolish some buildings (he didn't say which) for a new one. (No, this isn't CV and WRHA!) This building will be in conjuction with a 10 or 12 storey condo tower in Chinatown (so I guess it's going to be somewhere on Main around there).

Anyway, I thought I should pass along this information early on. It seems this "wreck one heritage building to save another" ploy is becoming quite popular with developers.

Sincerely,
Robert Galston"

Eight months later, and no response from anyone.

Then this today: The owner of 145 Pacific will be asking the City for a demolition permit on January 6th.


The plan is to tear down the 125-year-old structure and replace it with a parkade with a re-created brick wall on the north (Alexander Ave.) side--like a pale cartoon version of what stood there truly before.

Centre Venture's boss and downtown revitalization's preëminent philistine Ross McGowan somehow managed to convince the gang at Heritage Winnipeg that this was a good idea (yet HW is still registered to speak in opposition at City Hall on the 6th).

Apparently the building was constructed with railway ties that were leftover from the construction of Canadian Pacific's trans-continental railway.

How Heritage Winnipeg can get cajoled into supporting the demolition of one of the oldest warehouses in the city--one that is standing in good condition--might be something worth finding out.

It is already shaping up to be a banner year.

9 Comments:

Blogger Mr. Nobody said...

Don't worry RG, soon there won't be any buildings left and Heritage Winnipeg can be dissolved.

But if the buildings weren't designated as heritage, ahem , Heritage Winnipeg where have you been, there is only but one option.

Buy the buildings from the current owner and have them changed to heritage sites. You can change the rules if you like, but , open the wallet.

11:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm saddened to see this, and will probably speak up to say so. All the same, Winnipeg has to break free from the idea that Heritage Winnipeg's only job is just to sit and landmark the hell out of buildings the moment a development application comes forward.

If HW, CV and other influential agencies like them got off their ### and proactively tried to give developers a clear idea of what they could and could not do with a building in advance of development, or even set up some pre-approvals for obvious renovations so new developers could just "turn the key," it would reduce the costly "surprise, that's a heritage window!" factor in renovations and renewal, and go a long way toward adding an alternative option to the "demo by neglect" strategy.

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FreedomManitoba blog has a good take on the topic.

12:53 PM  
Blogger dono said...

Thanks for putting our e-mails up there for everyone to see and for spam bots to find.

1:12 PM  
Anonymous TRU said...

Beat it dono, no one—not even spammers—wants your email. WTF is Petkau's name doing there—that guy and his BRT support are part of the problem.

One more time: Demand for parking will stay strong—and demand for real estate will stay weak—so long as this freezing-ass place fails to act on the Norman D. Wilson subway plan.

Hoping for anything else is wishful thinking, and no amount of that will stop building owners from dreaming of parking lots.

5:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like we all need another parking lot downtown? Give me a break. Shame on the owner for having no balls!

Has the owner even considered converting the building to residential? The owner gets good PR from the public and business community alike, and even better, will have a hand in Winnipegs revitalization instead of its destruction

9:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL, I am sure the owner has considered everything he would lie to do with the building.

He is the owner. If he is breaking no laws then he can do what he likes.

Make him an offer and then you as the woner can do what you like.

11:47 PM  
Anonymous TRU said...

In this case, aesthetic considerations (and maintaining the continuity of the Exchange District) supersede individual property rights in regard to this 125 year-old building.

If he wanted to develop a parkade he ought to have invested in an empty lot.

Let this happen and you are all culpable in the wanton destruction of the core.

2:18 AM  
Blogger Mr. Nobody said...

Sorry TRU, but this looks like its going through the process.

This guy has no restrictions except a hearing away from getting a demolition permit. Not his fault someone dropped the ball on the government side.

Personally, I hope he wins and there is a big stink about it. People need to be held accountable for not doing their jobs. After the main street fiasco's I'm surprised we still pay these amateurs.

This isn't about parking lots and what people invest in. This guy opened his pocketbook and made an investment, he should be respected.

But no, not in this town. incompetents get to keep their jobs and investors get kicked in the nuts.

Fugit, I'm with the guy who actually bought something. As far as wanton destruction of the downtown, well that started 40 years ago, don't be blaming me. You want to blame someone, blame those who work for Heritage and have been collecting dust for at least the past 20 years.

3:13 AM  

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