Friday, September 2, 2011

"Free Kays" makes "Top Ten Most Endangered Places"

On September 1st the Heritage Canada Foundation designated the Kays Brothers property on Lower Queen Street in Charlottetown as one of the "Top Ten Most Endangered Places In Canada" and you can see their listing at 

Hers's some background for the record....   at our very first meeting (held at Rory Beck’s office) with the Province to discuss our hotel concept it was clearly indicated to APM that both the Province and CADC were only in favour of a development on the Kays property if the development involved “the preservation of this heritage structure”. 

At that meeting it was agreed that if our scheme of preserving the fa├žade was acceptable to Heritage Board and the City, then it would be acceptable to all parties.  Furthermore, it was explained to us that CADC’s purchase of the Kays property was “predicated” on the fact that CADC could tap into sources like the Infrastructure Program to see that the heritage designation was preserved and that the Province had already earmarked $1,000,000 towards this. 

We also have InnovationPEI’s written development offer, which clearly states that “CADC’s intention is to see this building preserved and restored.”  The same "presevation story" was represented by CADC to the public at their development “open house” in early 2011.  This begs the question why did CADC consent to the demolition application recently present to the City????

This is an important stucture for Downtown Charlottetown and CADC should find a way to see the building preserved as "tearing down" and "delisting" the building is just going to become a "National" issue and a blight on Charlotteown's "historic" reputation...  It appears the Campaign "Free Kays" is starting to mobilize now and for good reason... 

Why it matters
from Heritage Canada Foundation's website

HCF’s 2011 Top Ten Most Endangered Places List

The Heritage Canada Foundation released its seventh annual Top Ten Most Endangered Places List on September 1, 2011.

The selection—presented here from the West to East Coast—was compiled from the results of HCF’s call for nominations as well as those stories and news items followed throughout the year.

Constructed in 1872 for prominent politicians, merchants and shipbuilders Lemuel Owen and William Welsh, the Italianate Commercial-style building on Queen Street (later known as the Kayes Bros. Building) played an important role in the commercial history of Charlottetown. The large, four-storey structure with decorative brickwork, round-arched windows and row of three storefronts with large plate glass, wooden piers, and signband, it is one of the most impressive along the historic streetscape.

Over the years it was home to prominent newspapers and important local retail and commercial activities, but it is best known for its wholesale grocery businesses (J.T. Peardon’s, R.E. Mutch and Company and later the Kays Brothers). It suffered three fires that have damaged the interior, but left the exterior walls intact.

In 1962, the Kays Brothers purchased the building where they ran their wholesale company until 2009. The opening of Confederation Bridge, which made it easier for customers to shop out of province, was cited as the primary reason for its closure. It was purchased by the Charlottetown Area Development Corporation (CADC) that year for $750,000 and has been vacant ever since.

The building is included as a Designated Heritage Resource as per Appendix A in the City of Charlottetown Zoning and Development Bylaw.

Why it’s endangered

A new owner, island businessman Danny Murphy, wants to develop a $15-million hotel on the site that would require the delisting and demolition of the historic building. His engineering report, that states the building is structurally unsound, contradicts a report by J.M. Griffin Engineering Inc. prepared a year ago for P.E.I. developer Tim Banks. Based on that report, Banks had planned a hotel redevelopment that would incorporate part of the historic building.

Where things stand

Tim Banks is encouraging CADC and the provincial government to provide funding to Murphy to help restore the building as part of a hotel, instead of demolishing it.

The municipal Heritage Board has recommended that City Council not approve the demolition at this point and uphold its designated status. Murphy withdrew his demolition application before the vote in council could take place. The final decision has been delayed until an independent engineer assesses the building’s structural integrity.

Murphy has not made any progress on his proposal since he withdrew it several weeks ago, but in a media interview made it clear he will be moving forward with the project.

In the meantime, questions have arisen about how a listed heritage property was allowed to deteriorate to the extent that it has.

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