Wilson Blanchard has just announced that they will withdraw their demolition permit application and instead preserve the existing facade of its buildings at 18-28 King Street East.
By Ryan McGreal
Published January 15, 2013
this article has been updated
Wilson Blanchard has just announced that they will withdraw their demolition permit application and instead preserve the existing buildings at 18-22 King Street East, while proceeding with the demolition of 24 and 28 King Street East.
18-28 King Street East
In a news release issued late this morning, VP David Blanchard is quoted saying:
I appreciate that Hamiltonians care about the history of their city. We've been looking long and hard at all the options and feel confident about this new direction to preserve the façade of 18-22 King Street East. While the larger plan for the redevelopment of the south side of Gore Park will take a significant amount of time to complete, this is something we can move forward with immediately.
Previously, the company had announced a proposal to demolish the buildings and build a grocery store with a multi-level parking lot in their place. They requested a demolition permit in mid-December, which automatically took effect on January 9.
For buildings that are not designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, the owner must only give the city 20 days' notice of an intent to demolish.
In general, Council as a whole has not shown much interest in taking an active role in heritage designation, though Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr and Ward 1 Councillor Brian McHattie have met with Wilson Blanchard to discuss options.
The Heritage Committee recommended designating 18-28 King East as municipal heritage buildings at its December meeting, but Council would have to ratify that recommendation. The Spectator just reported that a motion was passed at today's planning committee meeting to designate 18-22 King Street East while allowing the demolition of 24-28 King Street East.
A campaign was launched at the end of December called on Ontario Minister Michael Chan to designate the building, but a recent article in the Globe and Mail reports that Minister Chan considers this a local matter.
The oldest of the buildings under threat was designed by William Thomas, one of North America's most famous Gothic Revival architects of the 19th century, and built in 1840.
More to come as we learn more details about this development.
Update: This article originally stated that Wilson Blanchard plans to preserve the facade of 18-28 King Street East. It actually plans to preserve 18-22 King Street East.
Update 2: Updated to add a rendering of the Gore streetwall issued today by Wilson Blanchard.
Rendering of restored 18-22 King East with new development on 24-28 King East (Image Credit: Wilson Blanchard)