Comment 85287

By kevlahan (registered) | Posted January 18, 2013 at 09:55:59

I agree with Ryan: I want to believe that the "developers" are not actually "land speculators", but we've been burned so many times in the past that anyone proposing to demolish without a firm plan to re-build in the short term shouldn't be surprised at the backlash. In fact, I thought there was a City by-law that enforces re-development within a year or two of demolition, but if there is, it seems to be pretty ineffective.

Blanchard himself has a very mixed record: he was involved with the successful Piggot/Sun Life and Bank of Montreal re-developments, but he demolished an office building and the old Royal Bank building and the sites have been vacant lots (or parking lots) for over ten years. And this is just around the corner from his newest demolition project. So we have reason to be skeptical.

As the Lister, Connaught and huge expanses of surface parking lots downtown have shown, premature demolition can set back a whole district for decades as each land owner waits for someone else to make an investment so they can reap a wind-fall profit with no effort (except waiting). Eventually, this will happen, but in the meantime downtown has had several lost decades that have cost billions in missed investment, economic activity and jobs.

As we've seen in the recent debate over the the Gore demolitions, many RTH readers feel personally concerned because they have invested their own money and work into restoring buildings and starting businesses in the core. We know what can be done, and are frustrated by a tendency by those with real resources to do so little, and to seemingly have little respect or love for the built heritage and urban design of the city.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2013-01-18 10:38:44

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