Only a matter of time now for Sutherland Press building


Will it be a case of third-time success for the City of St. Thomas? Monday evening (Sept. 18), city council accepted the $197,000 tender from Schouten Excavating of Watford to demolish the derelict Sutherland Press building that looms over the downtown core.
Schouten had been the successful bidder in 2016 when it was awarded the contract for $101,000.
It’s the third time in nearly a decade the city has attempted to level the building that dates back to 1913. Continue reading

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Setting course for Sutherland Press building demolition


 

city_scope_logo-cmykWhile the owner and his lawyer remain ominously quiet, it is onward and upward – or maybe that should be downward in this case – as the city stays the course on a process that will ultimately result in demolition of the Sutherland Press building.
In a conversation Friday with city manager Wendell Graves, he advised a report should come to council for the Sept. 18th meeting dealing with demolition tenders.
“The tenders are due next week,” confirmed Graves. “There was a site meeting (this past week) with numerous contractors. It seems like there is a fair bit of interest from contractors who showed up for the site meeting.”
Should council approve the winning tender bid, would demolition begin shortly afterward?
Continue reading

A clearer vision for Alma College property or another dashed dream?


city_scope_logo-cmykWhat lies ahead for the Alma College property might very well come into sharper focus this fall. London developer Gino Reale is optimistic such is the case.
Speaking to him from his home Friday, Reale was upbeat.
“There have been a lot of positive discussions. We’re getting close to some resolutions. But nothing has been inked.”
While he was unable to reveal details at this time, Reale said discussions are underway with a group on the possibility of constructing a small recreation centre on the Moore Street property geared to seniors. Part of the green space could be utilized for a community garden, suggested Reale. Continue reading

Third time lucky as city pursues demolition in Sutherland saga?


Round 3 of the Sutherland Press demolition derby is officially underway. At Monday’s council meeting, city manager Wendell Graves advised the paperwork is being drawn up this week seeking requests for proposal for demolition of the four-storey Sutherland Press building.
It’s the third time in nine years the city has undertaken this process, and the fact the building that dates back to 1913 is still standing is testament to the success of the previous two attempts.

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

In 2008, a determination from Justice David Little paved the way to for partial demolition of the top floor of the structure. A process halted almost immediately by Justice Peter Hockin. The same Justice Hockin who, in June of this year, upheld the validity of a pair of work orders issued by the city calling for remedial work to be performed on the structure.
In other words, Hockin concurred with engineering reports undertaken by the city and ruled the building is unsafe.
And that has prompted a third kick at the demolition can.
In between these two attempts, the city in February of 2016 awarded a demolition tender to Schouten Excavating of Watford in the amount of $101,135.
Earlier this month, Graves confirmed  “technically that tender was not active.”
And so, here we go again as the city takes a cautious approach to proceeding with demolition of the building owned by David McGee of Toronto.
Speaking with Graves in his office today (Aug. 22), he made it clear everything must be buttoned down when announcing the winning bid because McGee ultimately will be presented with the bill.

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A conceptual drawing of what the Sutherland Press building might possibly look like if successfully converted into a condominium development.

Will companies be reluctant to submit proposals because of past history?
Graves felt this would not be a problem as there was no shortage of interested parties in 2016.
He added a report should come to council in mid-September with the tender proposals.
Meantime,McGee’s lawyer Valerie M’Garry was unavailable today for comment.
Following Hockin’s ruling in June, she told City Scope “We’re optimistic of approaching the municipality and saying here’s a proposal for you, let’s move forward rather than spending time on appeals and things like that.”
She added at that time,  “I think there’s an onus on both parties. We have to pony up and they have to be willing to listen. Both parties have to be willing to come to the dance. And we can do some things that will assuage the city’s concerns and ultimately be to the advantage of the building.”
Graves confirmed again today, neither M’Garry nor McGee has engaged in any dialogue with the city on the next step following the ruling from Justice Hockin.

Related posts:

Charting the pathway to demolition and freedom for the hostages

No throwing caution to the wind in this chapter of the Sutherland Saga

After nine years, it’s time to pony up and listen

Thirty days and counting in the Sutherland Saga

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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

No throwing caution to the wind in this chapter of the Sutherland Saga


city_scope_logo-cmykThe Sutherland Saga forecast for next week?
Cautious for the next few days.
With the 30-day appeal period having expired this past week and no indication Sutherland Press building owner David McGee intends to challenge the June 28 decision handed down by Justice Peter Hockin that, in essence, the four-storey downtown edifice is in fact unsafe, is that the wrecker’s ball we hear approaching?
Not so fast, advises city manager Wendell Graves who indicated Friday the city is taking a cautious approach at this time.
He advised while no word has been received from McGee or his lawyer Valerie M’Garry an appeal is in the works, it is better to err on the side of caution while seeking advice from legal counsel. Continue reading

Silently pointing the way atop St. Thomas Elevated Park


city_scope_logo-cmykIf you think all is quiet on the St. Thomas Elevated Park front, all you have to do is look up to see nothing could be further from the truth.
The first of two large sculptures crafted by area artist and blacksmith Scott McKay was positioned in place this week, high above Sunset Drive in readiness for this year’s picnic on Aug. 27.
Entitled Fear Not The Wind, the artwork is an over-size, functional weathervane.
“Because it’s a windy environment up there, the artist came up with the idea of using that wind to make the sculpture move,” explained Serge Lavoie, president of On Track St. Thomas. “So, a big, overgrown weather vane was the answer. You go to old-fashioned gardens and they put in weather vanes or sun dials and he came up with a weather vane for this garden and I think it’s a cool idea.” Continue reading