Comment 84214

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted December 20, 2012 at 08:28:18 in reply to Comment 84204

I won't downvote you, because your post was not rude - you are clearly sincere.

But I will challenge your assertion that the solution to this block is to tear the buildings down.

Heritage or no, the removal of existing structures is horribly wasteful by nature. It also quite often results in a building that is worse for the street life than the one it replaced, since our building codes and zoning bylaws no longer allow the type of streetwall that makes for great cities.

I won't go building-by-building but there is a lot of heritage on that stretch - the "mcdonalds" building at john/king for one, several of the narrower retail buildings, the Capri as you mentioned, but also the entire stretch up John North, including I might add, the building that houses my business.

What we have on that block is a continuous streetwall on King, from Hughson to John, and continuing around the corner up John to King William. And you propose razing the entire thing? Seems a bit rash to me.

Tearing down buildings because they are "ugly" or because the building owners stopped caring, or because there is too much loitering by those who aren't "Well adjusted" is the kind of thinking that dragged us down to the bottom from which we are trying to climb. We lost Market Street and York to that line of thinking, and look what replaced it.

A quick story: I visited city hall to inquire about their assessment of the % of retail versus residential in the building. They asked if the residential was currently rented, and when I said "no", the entire conversation derailed to them talking up the vacancy tax rebate and grabbing papers for me to fill out to apply. When I told them I planned to either move in or rent it, they were unfazed. The clerk actually started filling the paperwork out FOR me. She was desperate for me to apply for the vacancy rebate.

This is the attitude that's causing problems. We need to stop rewarding building owners for keeping their buildings empty. We need to enforce minimum property standards. We need to come up with some sort of plan to allow those whose upper floors became warehouses long ago to legally (and with minimal red tape) change them back to residential units.

I must insist that the change you want to see on that block can happen with the existing buildings, and it can happen faster and more productively than a tear down and new build ever could.

But we have to make it uncomfortable for speculators and we need to reward owner-occupiers.

What will save that block is the changing of hands of these buildings away from speculators and toward people who want to have a business or home in the building they own - those who have a stake in the neighbourhood.

The speculators have one goal: keep the values as depressed as possible so that they can buy up as much land as they can so that they can "cash out" when a condo developer comes knocking.

Stop giving them ammunition.

Comment edited by seancb on 2012-12-20 08:30:17

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