The Architecture Conservancy of Ontario has formally asked the Province to stop the demolition of 24 and 28 King Street East and to designate the buildings under the Ontario Heritage Act.
By Ryan McGreal
Published January 21, 2013
The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO) has formally asked Michael Chan, Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport to stop the demolition of 24 and 28 King Street East and designate the buildings under the Ontarion Heritage Act.
24 and 28 King Street East, the two buildings on the left side, are slated for demolition (RTH file photo)
In December, property owner Wilson Blanchard applied to the city for a permit to demolish all the buildings from 18-28 King Street East. The City's Heritage Committee recommended that Council designate 18-28 under the Heritage Act, but the property owner reached a deal last week with the Planning Committee to preserve the facade and front half of 18-22 while proceeding with the demolition of 24 and 28.
18-22 will be added to the City's register of buildings of historical interest, but will not have protection under Section IV of the Act.
Wilson Blanchard has partnered with dp.Ai to renovate 18-22 so it can attract high quality retail tenants on the main floor with apartments on the upper levels.
Rendering by dp.Ai of a restored 18-22 King Street East as part of a proposed new development (Image Credit: Wilson Blanchard)
A proposed second phase would entail a major new development on the block bounded by King, Hughson, Main and James Streets, most of which Wilson Blanchard currently owns. In the meantime, Wilson Blanchard plans to proceed with the demolition of 24 and 28, a demolition that follows the 2011 demolition of 30 King Street East.
A citizen campaign was launched at the end of December calling on Minister Chan to designate the building, but a recent article in the Globe and Mail reports that the minister considers this a local matter.
In a news release issued this morning, the ACO argued, "Protecting built heritage is no longer a strictly local matter: the Act is now clear that the Province shares responsibility for ensuring the protection of our heritage buildings and landscapes."
The ACO cites a 2005 amendment to the Heritage Act that gives the Province power to intercede to save threatened heritage buildings.
ACO explains why they believe the buildings should be protected from demolition:
The buildings are of Provincial significance due to both the association with William Thomas and the quality of design, and are representative of commercial architecture of the pre-Confederation and Victorian periods. These buildings define the character of Gore Park through not only their individual qualities but their collective contribution to a pedestrian-scale streetwall. The buildings have been in continuous use and appear to be structurally fit and suitable for renovation and adaptive reuse. Finally, it is understood that there is no immediate plan for redeveloping the site where the buildings will be demolished.
Michelle Sergi, community planning and design manager in the City's planning department, has provided details on the derivation and history of the buildings. 18-22 was designed by William Thomas and built in 1840, while 24 and 28 were constructed in 1874-76 in the Victorian style.
According to Wilson Blanchard, 24 and 28 are in poor shape and would be very expensive to restore.