What’s next in the Sutherland saga?


sutherland conceptualjpg

A conceptual drawing of what the Sutherland Press building might possibly look like if successfully converted into a condominium development. The four-storey structure is now listed under power of sale, with an asking price of $99,888.


While the city and owner David McGee prepare for an April 8 court date, the Sutherland Press building is now the subject of a power of sale listing.
The four-storey structure was listed for sale on March 19, three days prior to a meeting in a London courtroom where McGee attempted to halt a second attempt by the city to demolish the building that dates back to 1913.
The two sides are scheduled to appear again April 8 at the Elgin County Courthouse.
According to the listing posted by a London realtor, the Sutherland Press building is offered at $99,888 and is being sold under power of sale by E & M Cavaco.
It is described as “located in the heart of St. Thomas, approx. 7,000 sq. ft. per floor with ceiling heights of 12 feet.”

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The city is playing politics insists Sutherland Press building owner

 city_scope_logo-cmykYou had to see this coming. Like watching a train hurtle off the tracks in slow motion, who could not have envisioned the fate of the Sutherland Press building end up back in court, a la 2008.
That summer, after the city began to dismantle the structure that dates back to 1913, all work came to a halt in late July after Justice Peter Hockin ruled in favour of Toronto owner David McGee’s request for leave of appeal, disputing a previous decision made by Justice David Little on July 14 that gave the City of St. Thomas a green light to commence demolition.
Following the successful appeal, McGee’s lawyer, Valerie M’Garry observed, “It gives him (McGee) an opportunity to demonstrate that he always intended to restore and maintain and refurbish that building.”
Eight years later, is McGee convinced he can bring the four-storey building back to life through a conversion to luxury condos?

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Sutherland Press building demolition on hold, again


Sutherland Press building in 2008, prior to partial demolition of front face

It’s deja-vu all over again for the Sutherland Press building.
As was the case in 2008, the fate of the four-storey Talbot St. edifice — scheduled for demolition this month by the city — will be decided in the courts. The city’s legal counsel and Toronto owner David McGee met in a London courtroom Tuesday and will return to the Elgin County Courthouse on April 8.
“I was actually in court this afternoon (Tuesday) going through the same stuff we went through before,” said McGee, who added he received a letter from the city advising demolition would begin Monday on the structure that dates back to 1913.
“They sent that to me yesterday (Monday) and I stayed up all night and drove down this morning.”

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A letter to St. Thomas residents from the Zubick family


Alma College plaque

To the City of St Thomas,

We are finished with Alma.

This news brings both relief and sorrow to us. It has been a long, long journey and it is good to be done. Unfortunately, we never realized the dream of rebuilding Alma. We had great plans. We wanted to restore the building, and bring it back to its former glory. The situation came down to the fact that we could not do it. And for that, we are sorry for our part.

Alma College was a wonderful, historic building with so many fond memories. People would gather and recall beautiful periods of their lives. The stories were great to listen to.

What we did not know was that the way it had been built and having the historic specifications on it scared most of the developers away. The added environmental concerns added to the story. The need to reconstruct the façade put it into a financial burden that no one wanted to tackle. Continue reading

Alma College sold to London developer


Gino Reale of London stands outside the gate of the former Alma College with the music building and chapel still standing.

Reduced to a neglected jumble of bricks, rubble and a couple of crumbling structures, the former Alma College property has been sold to a London-based property manager.
The deal closed March 7 and Gino Reale, who deals in real estate development and land acquisitions, confirmed two days later he is acting on behalf of a group of investors.
The 11-acre site had previously been owned by the Zubick family of London who purchased it for approximately $900,000 in 1998.
Under the corporate name Alma Heritage Estates, several proposals were put forth by the Zubicks including a pitch to the city to locate a new Valleyview Home on the Moore St. property.
In 2005, Alma Heritage Estates applied to city for a demolition permit to level the former school for girls.

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St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital CEO bowing out on a high note

No backroom wheeling and dealing this time around. When his five-year contract expires in October, St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital president and CEO Paul Collins is holding true to his word.
No contract extension – step aside and make way for a new hand at the helm.
“As I announced five years ago when we negotiated the contract, that would be my last and we’re sticking to the plan,” Collins insisted.
Not that he is necessarily bidding farewell to the world he loves.
In a lengthy conversation earlier this month, Collins spoke frankly of the future.
“I think I still have something to offer in health care. I have a great passion for this work. Who knows what opportunity will present itself. Leave the options open.”
And what words of wisdom will he pass on to the incoming CEO?
“The first thing I would say is they are very fortunate to come into a great community that has tremendous generosity. And they’ve shown it not to just this hospital, but to a lot of other agencies.

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Time for straight talk on the future of Alma property

city_scope_logo-cmykWhat next for poor old Alma, or at least the mounds of rubble that in better days fit piece by piece into the magnificent edifice at the end of Moore St. that watched ever so stately over St. Thomas?
The 11-acre property is no longer in the hands of the Zubick family of London having been handed over to Gino Reale, a developer from the same city.
No firm plans for the site of the former school for girls that operated between 1881 and 1998, Reale told us on Wednesday, but he insisted he has two immediate goals.
“I want to clean up the site and get rid of all the garbage and concrete that’s spread everywhere and then we’re going to do an environmental assessment,” said Reale.
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Membership is holding steady in the Sunshine Club

city_scope_logo-cmykAlways a controversial topic, the city and Elgin county this week released the salaries of employees earning in excess of $100,000 in 2015, as required by the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act of 1996.
For the city, 95 employees eared greater than $100,000, that’s one less than 2014. It’s the first decrease in many years.
Breaking down by sector, 31 members of the St. Thomas Police Service are included, down from 33 in 2014.
A total of 48 members of the St. Thomas Fire Department are on the list, the same number as 2014.
And in city administration, 16 staffers are listed, up one from 2014.
The top earner at city hall is Wendell Graves at $175,099 as compared to $172,372.48 the previous year. Continue reading