Alma College facade a non-starter; will the amphitheatre now be off limits to the community?


alma-plaque

Alma College plaque

Members of city council were unanimous in their decision Monday to initiate the process of rescinding a 2008 Ontario Municipal Board order requiring any development on the Alma property to “include a faithful and accurate representation of the front facade of the college building.”
Reached with a minimum amount of discussion, the motion brings Patriot Properties a step close to commencing work on their three-tower residential development on the Moore Street property.
What is not so clear is whether the developer is backtracking on a statement he made earlier this year regarding the public having access to the amphitheatre at the east end of the property, which will be subject to a heritage easement, according to city manager Wendell Graves. Continue reading

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Facade replication . . . the critical consideration in Alma property development


city_scope_logo-cmykA 2010 Ontario Municipal Board decision requiring any development on the Alma College property at 96 Moore Street must include “a faithful and accurate replication” of the front facade has polarized the community at large and the active membership of the Alma College International Alumnae Association.
Will it likewise divide members of council on Monday (Sept. 17) when they address the issue of approaching the OMB to rescind the replication condition for development.
The OMB order was registered on the Alma College property Sept. 9, 2010. It was registered by solicitors on behalf of the city and has been in effect for the past eight years.
On the matter of replication, the 44-page decision states, “Any development or re-development of the subject property that is permitted by present or future zoning regulations, shall include a faithful and accurate replication of the portions of the front facade of the Alma College building, which have been demolished, in a location identified by the Schedules to this Order. The replication shall include but not be limited to: doors, color of brick, roof line, and sight lines to a minimum horizontal depth of three meters from the front wall of the new building.” Continue reading

Alma facade face-off to be front and centre in the coming month


city_scope_logo-cmykIf you have been following this corner over the past couple of weeks, you know there is a divide in the ranks of the Alma College International Alumnae Association as to whether there is merit to replicating the facade of the main building at the former school for girls as part of proposed three-apartment complex.
At issue here is a 2008 Ontario Municipal Board decision that determined any new development on the Moore Street property must recreate the north façade of Alma to a depth of three metres.
The issue is on the agenda for Monday’s (Aug. 13) meeting of city council.
The developer, Michael Loewith of Patriot Properties, has submitted a letter to council outlining his vision for the Alma College property.
Loewith writes, he was intrigued by the OMB order and the opportunity it presented to pursue his two passions, history and development. Continue reading

Preservation of facade ‘not the best way to respect Alma’


 

alma-plaque

Alma College plaque

Response to our item Saturday (Aug. 4) about Lara Leitch and her assertion she and other members of the Alma College International Alumnae Association “want the college’s memory and façade preserved because of its cultural and architectural heritage in the city,” was both swift and staunchly opposed to preservation.
Leitch was referring to the 2008 Ontario Municipal Board decision that determined any new development must recreate the north façade of Alma to a depth of three metres.
It is Leitch’s belief city council and the developer of a proposed three-apartment complex on the Moore Street property are trying to skirt this ruling.
Within hours of publication Saturday, Donna Robertson emailed this corner to stress preserving the facade of the main building does little to honour the former school for girls. Continue reading

The Alma College property deserves ‘building something that is beautiful’


alma-plaque

Alma College plaque

Members of St. Thomas city council got their first look Tuesday at a proposed development on the Alma College property.
Michael Loewith of Loewith-Greenberg Communities outlined his plan for three, seven-storey residential towers on the site of the former private school for girls. One of the structures would replicate the front facade of the main Alma college building.
The development would entail 400 units of various configurations geared to young families and empty-nesters alike. Much of the land on the 13-acre Moore Street site would be devoted to green space and pathways. Continue reading

Charting the pathway to demolition and freedom for the hostages


city_scope_logo-cmykAfter nine years, the city finally benefits from a legal determination the Sutherland Press building is, indeed, unsafe but does the ruling from Justice Peter Hockin mean the hostage taking in St. Thomas is nearing a conclusion?
The city has chosen to take a cautious approach, something it can’t be faulted on after a 2008 ruling from Justice David Little triggered partial demolition of the top floor of the four-storey structure. A process halted almost immediately by the same Justice Hockin.
What is most frustrating is the continued lack of movement on the part of owner David McGee since the June 28 decision that upheld a pair of city work orders. Attempts by McGee and his lawyer, Valerie M’Garry, to convince both Hockin and city staff that the financial picture had somehow improved – to the tune of $50,000 – were laughable. 
Surely the unpaid bills would gobble that up in prompt fashion.
M’Garry had indicated to this corner the next step would be dialogue with the city on moving forward.
So, how is that working out?

Continue reading

Return of bell rings good news for Alma alumnae


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It will never ring again to stir sleepy students or summon legions of exuberant young women to the dining hall, however the return of a truly iconic form of primitive communication is being welcomed by the Alma College community.
It has been some time since this corner has focused on the former school for girls, but the invitation to join Donna Robertson, past-president of the Alma College International Alumnae; Stephen Francom, Elgin County Archives manager; and Mike Baker, Elgin County Museum curator, to provide details on the return to St. Thomas of the Alma College bell proved too tempting to resist.
The bell disappeared some years ago, likely commandeered by a former Alma student in order to provide a safe home as the college faced the spectre of demolition by neglect.

Continue reading