Update on Gore Park Buildings: City Partially Funding Engineering Work
City Council – alongside a contested heritage designation – is offering over $1-million in financial incentives for the preservation of the building.
It was a surprise last December when City Council reversed course and voted to designate 18-28 King Street East.
It was one parking lot too far – last fall, Blanchard-Wilson, the owners of the Gore Park buildings at 18-28 King Street East, demolished their building at 20 Jackson Street West and briefly operated an illegal parking lot.
City Hall reacted quickly to shut down the illegal parking lot, and the bad faith City Hall felt shown by the owners helped convince City Council to [unanimously designate 18-28 King Street over the owners objections.
Council knew in designating that a lengthy legal battle would result.
Ontario Conservation Review Board
The designation is currently under appeal and the case is slowly progressing at the Ontario Conservation Review Board with the next pre-conference hearing scheduled for early October.
It will likely be years before the hearing is complete, in the meanwhile, the buildings are now in compliance with property standards.
Hearing Doesn’t Preclude Agreement and Adaptive Reuse
Every quarter, the City releases the status of its capital budget accounts.
There is presently $400,000 in an account for the approved incentives for the building, some of the money in this account line is awaiting an invoice from the building owner for engineering services.
The City did not reveal what the services are for, and confirms that more funds are available for professional services such as architectual planning if the work will progress a redevelopment plan that respects the heritage designation and meets the incentive conditions.
Striking While the Market is Hot?
City staff confirm they are regularly in discussions with Wilson-Blanchard on the Gore Park buildings.
The first round of City incentive funds are sitting in a capital spending account protected and ready for use.
I’m going to keep an eye on the quarterly capital reports to see if any funds are spent beyond the current engineering studies.
Call me an optimist, but I can’t see either the City or Blanchard-Wilson letting the buildings sit vacant during the 2015 PanAm Games while spending their money on a long legal battle at the CRB.