An article from the TC yesterday.
City ponders fate of threatened historic buildings
Morley, Janion properties could face demolition, development
Carolyn Heiman, Times Colonist
Published: Saturday, March 15, 2008
The owners of two prominent historic buildings want to develop the properties, their lawyer said yesterday, adding fuel to growing concern by Victoria politicians, business representatives and heritage advocates that the downtown icons are under real threat.
"My clients would really like to do things with [the Janion building and Morley's Soda Factory sites]," David Houston said. "We want to do something that will complement the neighbourhood and revitalize it ... hopefully using some reclaimed materials."
Houston wasn't specific about what kind of development plans the owners have in mind, saying it would depend on how the city responds to their application to demolish the Janion, built in 1891, and the Morley, built in 1884. Both buildings have been empty for decades.
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The Janion building, shown here, and Morley's Soda Factory are targeted for demolition by their owners. The buildings were constructed in the 1880s and 1890s and have been vacant for decades.
Darren Stone, Times Colonist
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Font:****On Thursday, Victoria city council put a 60-day protection order on the properties owned by Sky Blue Properties, whose president is Clara Beatrice Kramer of Oak Bay. Her two daughters, who live in Beverly Hills, Calif., are also named as owners.
The order was made after the city received an application to demolish the properties, which are on a heritage registry but not protected with a formal heritage designation.
The move buys time for city staff to complete a report on what options are open to the city, but one recommendation will be to designate the properties as heritage sites without the permission of the owners.
Houston said his clients don't want to demolish the buildings. "The problem my clients face is that they would like to develop the properties, but the cost of doing so, and keeping the current facades in place -- you can't do it economically."
He said if the city designates the buildings as heritage without the owners' permission, the city would have to pay compensation. That money could be put toward repairing the buildings to make them conform to building codes.
Houston did not name a compensation figure, "but it would be significant" and potentially more than the assessed value of the properties.
According to B.C. Assessment, the Morley's Soda Factory property at 1315-1317 Waddington Alley has a 2008 assessed property value of $400,300, with the building assessed at $8,300 of that total. The waterfront Janion property at 1612-1614 Store St. is assessed at $1,191,300, with the former hotel on the site valued at $11,300.
The Morley's Soda Factory was originally the manufacturing plant for soda water, lemonade and a variety of syrups. The Janion started out as a hotel but later was used for a variety of uses including the business office for the E&N Railway and a storage facility.
Houston said the company applied to the City of Victoria for a demolition permit because "we have been in discussions with the city over the years, and things haven't worked out.
"The way things are going in the area, now is the time" to develop it, he said, noting that the relocation of the Streetlink emergency shelter away from Store Street signals the area is on the upswing.
Houston said his clients and the city are in agreement that the location of the Janion property is important, "but on the heritage issues I don't know. It is certainly an old building. We know that. Whether it is of heritage significance I don't know.
"We want to know what the city's intentions are. We need to know: Is it heritage or not?"
Ken Kelly, executive director of the Downtown Victoria Business Association, called the situation between the city and the property owners "a Mexican standoff."
Kelly said the association would be "on the front lines of advocating preservation of the buildings. They are too valuable to let slip to the ground. They have been anchors and touchstones to the downtown for more than a century."
As for the economics of revitalizing the buildings, Kelly said: "Who put them in that shape? Who has neglected them for all these years. I can't believe [he] would say something like that. ... We need people who have a vision, and that has every bit as much to do with our individual property owners as with the council."
> Heritage advocates and city officials dismayed, A3.
> In tomorrow's Times Colonist: The history of the Morley and Janion buildings.
© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2008
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