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#ldnont heritage alert! Meeting re: proposed demolition of beautiful 199 Queens Ave.

- September 24th, 2012

 

199 Queens

199 Queens Ave. image courtesy of excellent blog kept by Jennifer Grainger http://jennifergrainger.blogspot.ca/

JBNBlog thanks heritage leaders Genet Hodder & Jennifer Grainger for the following alert . . .

Hi Everyone,

 

This is to remind you that the request for a permit to demolish the Italianate building at 199 Queens Avenue will come before the Planning and Environment Committee this evening.  Please try to attend .  The meeting is at 7:30 pm.  Following is the Notice of Public Participation.  I have also attached a  letter I sent to the committee.

 

Genet

Here is Genet’s excellent letter on the subject:

 

Letter to the Planning and Environment Committee of London City Council

Meeting on September 24, 2012

Dear Committee Members,

I learned with deep regret of the request for a permit to demolish the substantial old building at 199 Queens Avenue and of the decision by the London Advisory Committee on Heritage to accept demolition.

Any other artifact dating from 1880 might be regarded as a treasure, to be admired and appreciated for its craftsmanship and historic resonance and in the case of an old building, restored and put to a useful purpose. This stately old house of Italianate design, just doors away from Richmond Street and nodding to its neighbor the London Club, built 12 years later, is one of the few 19th century buildings that remain along what was once a magnificent corridor of homes and public buildings.

It is listed on the city’s 2006 Inventory of Heritage Resources, and was presumably purchased with that knowledge. To purchase and trash a building that is apparently in good condition is environmentally wasteful and disrespectful of our heritage.

Barring a natural disaster such as the 2011 devastating tornado in Goderich or the equally devastating earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, a community’s built heritage is lost one building at a time and always, in the eyes of a developer, for an excellent reason. The reason here would seem to be a parking building.

I believe I speak for most members of ACO London in encouraging this committee to deny the request for demolition.

Genet Hodder

President, ACO London Region
September 7, 2012

 

NOTICE OF PUBLIC PARTICIPATION MEETING

Re: 199 Queens Avenue

 

Farhi Holdings, the owner of the building at 199 Queens Avenue, has made an application to demolish the building.

 

In accordance with Council Policy, where a building that is listed on the Register of Heritage Resources is proposed to be demolished, the matter of the demolition shall be considered at a public participation meeting before the Planning and Environment Committee of Council.

 

The residential building at 199 Queens Avenue has been listed as a Priority 2 property on the 2006 City of London Inventory of Heritage Resources and is located within the Council approved Downtown Heritage Conservation District.

 

As a nearby property owner, you are now advised that the Planning and Environment Committee will consider the request to demolish this structure at its meeting on Monday, September 24, 2012, on the second floor, City Hall, 300 Dufferin Avenue (northeast corner of Wellington and Dufferin) not before 7:30 p.m.

 

A staff report with respect to this request for demolition will be available one week prior to the meeting date from the Planning Office at 206 Dundas Street.

 

You may wish to attend and speak to this matter or a neighbourhood or community association may exist in your area.  If it does and it reflects your views on this matter, you may wish to have a representative of the association speak on your behalf at the meeting.  Individual comments may be submitted for the agenda through the Committee Secretary (HLysynsk@london.ca). Your ward Councillor  is J. Bryant (JBryant@london.ca).

 

The Planning and Environment Committee will recommend to Council either to permit the demolition of the building, to permit the demolition of the building with conditions, or to refuse the demolition. A recommendation to refuse the request for demolition may be accompanied by a recommendation to designate the property under the provisions of Section 29 of the Ontario Heritage Act.  If approval is given by Council for demolition, then the applicant may demolish the building in accordance with the applicable municipal or provincial regulations.

 

Yours truly,

 

D. Menard

Heritage Planner

City of London

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10 comments

  1. Lorna Harris says:

    This is just such a pity . I hope it can be saved – although I am not holding my breath.

  2. Dan Brock says:

    I agree with the heritage value of the building at 199 Queens Avenue. It was also the home of Thomas Hiscox who, in 1837, established a livery and later a hotel in London. The Hiscox family was rather significant to the history of London in the 19th century.
    It was, therefore, with regret that the majority of us on LACH ascented to the demolition of this fine building, but, after listening to Mr. Farhi’s presentation, we came to the conclusion that this building had to be sacrificed as a pawn in order to protect Mr. Farhi’s other buildings of greater heritage value in the core, e.g. the Scott Building and the Wright Building. I trust that all this was ably demonstrated in this evening’s meeting.
    Those who ague that this building is being torn down merely to be replaced by a parking lot are not looking at the whole pucture as to what Mr. Farhi is proposing for this area and why. This argument reminds me of Eve’s answer to the serpent that God said of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that “You must not eat it, nor touch it, under pain of death.” This, like the argument of a parking lot per se, is an attempt to make God’s position unreasonable. God said nothing about touching the tree! There is more to Mr. Farhi reasons for demolishing 199 Queens Avenue than putting up another parking lot downtown.
    Sometimes, we in the heritage community have to make sacrifices for the greater good of London’s heritage. I believe this would appear to be one of those occasions.

  3. neil jeffery says:

    Wow, that explanation just sounds like utter nonsense. In the real world people don’t play chess with buildings nor should mythological stories have any bearing on important decisions that need to be made.
    I wish i could have attended the meeting to hear what went on there…must have been very persuasive!

  4. Dan Brock says:

    It was, when looking at the big picture. Nor should we on LACH stand in front of the bulldozer or wrecking ball for every heritiage building we might prefer to see saved. Instead, we have to stay focused and be prepared to pick our fights. I believe we acted responsibly when, with reluctance, we made the decision we did regarding 199 Queens Avenue in light of the many other heritage buildings in core at possible risk. (Bear in mind, that not all the LACH members supported the majority decision.)
    From what I heard on the local news channel at 11:00, there may be an opportunity of saving the original part of the building by transferring it to another, and hopefully a compatable, site. (As I said, the Hiscox family played a very important part in London in the 19th century and it would be great if this tangible part of the family could still find its place in 21st century London.)

  5. Pat Massier says:

    Wow Dan, that sounds like a lot of “who shot John” to me. What happens when Farhi wants to do something with the buildings that were preserved while 199 Queens was delivered as a trade-off pawn. What was the trade-off? If you let me do this with 199 Queens then I won’t do whatever to the other two. Doesn’t make sense to me since the LACH should be in the driver’s seat and not Farhi.
    Too many of our heritage building have already been lost either to the wrecking ball or fires.

  6. Jennifer Grainger says:

    Having been at the Planning Committee meeting last night I was agreeably surprised at the Committee’s interest in trying to find a way to incorporate the current heritage structure into the proposed new development.
    A decision has been delayed for 45 days to give the architect, Mr. Farhi, and city staff time to work out a plan. I’m not overly optimistic but it almost seemed as if Councillors had noticed there was a heritage community, something we’re not used to! LACH does not always represent the views of London’s heritage world. A great many of us don’t buy Mr. Farhi’s statement that this building needs to be sacrificed in order to save others. He suggested that it could be moved to Fanshawe Pioneer Village, but the substantial late Victorian 199 Queens building doesn’t really fit in with FPV’s theme. It would be better left as it is – unless the way of incorporating it into the new development looks as silly as the remains of the Talbot Block hanging on the outside of Bud Gardens.

  7. Dan Brock says:

    Well Pat, I believe I have already stated the reasons I believe that, with reluctance, as a member of LACH I would not stand in the way of the wrecking ball. Yes Jennifer, “the views of London’s heritage world” are sometimes, but not often, the general consensus of LACH as we on LACH have to always be looking at more than heritage alone when we make a decision. As one of those who participated in the “Hands Around the Block” so many years ago, when we campaigned for the preservation of the facade on the west side of Talbot Street, between King and Dundas, I agree that preservating only the front facade of 199 Queens Avenue could look “as silly as the remains of the Talbot Block hanging on the outhside of Bud Gardens.” Hopefully, greater heads than mine can come up with a solution with which we can all live.

  8. Conservation vs instant heritage says:

    The “heritage world” ? What is this, and who is mandated to speak for it in
    competition with the municipal Advisory committee appointed by Council?
    Recognized local groups have long had automatic seats on the LACH
    from the original format of our OHA body, the LACAC, over 35 years ago.
    As is pointed out, the “heritage community” got itself on the map with the
    brilliant ‘Hands Around the Block” demonstration masterminded by Anne
    McColl Lindsay and others a quarter century ago.
    Facadism is a delicate tradeoff -isn’t there still a gothic front from a Dundas
    street pharmacy in storage somewhere?
    And Aldermen/Councillors have stood with their constituents in supporting
    effective conservation going way back. Council even had a seat on LACAC
    as late as Pat O’Brien’s term in office

  9. Conservation vs instant heritage says:

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a roundup of what has been “saved” over
    the years, instead of complaints of about unspecified losses. Maybe even
    a tip of the hat to those property owners who have put their own time and
    money into keeping streetscapes of London heritage quality. Time to read
    the LFP book ‘London Heritage’ again from 1971, which spelled out the
    postwar situation.

  10. Jennifer Grainger says:

    Of course there is a heritage world outside of LACH. The ACO, Historical Society, Heritage Council, Heritage London Foundation, all the museums, and the neighbourhood community groups. Of course groups have seats on LACH but if LACH is not going to represent their views or the views of private individuals, those groups and individuals have the right to raise their concerns.

    As for what has been “saved” over the years, grab any book on local architectural heritage and I guess it’ll do as a “roundup.” The question is, saved for how long?

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