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OTIS | 7 fl | Proposed
51-53 David St, Kitchener

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Site conditions prior to redevelopment

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Developer ordered to fix up or demolish derelict David Street homes
January 30, 2014 | Brent Davis | The Record | LINK

Quote:KITCHENER — The City of Kitchener has given the owner of a pair of derelict homes overlooking Victoria Park two options — fix them up, or tear them down.

Director of Enforcement Shayne Turner delivered a property standards order Tuesday to the developer who purchased 51 and 53 David St. in 2012.

Complaints from area residents, and a number of instances in recent months in which people have broken into the boarded-up buildings, prompted the move, Turner said.

Now, the company has been given two months to do the required work or apply for a demolition permit for the two homes and a garage on the site.

"If you're going to keep the buildings there, have them fixed up to a standard that's more compatible to the neighbourhood," Turner said.

Some of the required exterior work would include replacing broken windows, repairing holes in the roof and replacing exterior surfaces that have rotted away or are missing. The two-month time frame takes into account such factors as the amount of work that would need to be done and weather conditions, Turner said.

A property standards order can be appealed within 14 days of its receipt.

Developer Stephen Litt said Wednesday his focus remains on finalizing a development application for a new condominium building on the site.

"We really do want to work with the City of Kitchener," he said. "We're very excited to set a new precedent for what condominiums are like in the city."

Litt said he couldn't comment on how his firm will respond to the property standards order in the short term, but said their intentions are to clear the site once they have the approvals they need.

"We will definitely tear everything down and clean it up," he said. "We are eager to get going on David Street, without a doubt."

When The Madison Group, now Revel Development Corporation, took possession of the homes, the move was cheered by area residents and city officials alike.

For years, police, fire and bylaw staff had fought what seemed to be a losing battle to rid the buildings of the drug dealers and prostitutes who'd taken up residence. In buying the homes, Litt said his company helped tenants escape unsafe conditions and get the help they needed.

Their initial concept called for a 60-unit, ten-storey building with six floors fronting onto David Street, rising to ten floors at the back.

Now, Litt said they'd like the Precedent on the Parc project to have eight storeys at the front, rising to 12 floors at the back, with a total of 80 units.

In October, 2012, a Record story on the initial proposal said there were outstanding planning issues surrounding height and number of units that needed to be resolved. Litt said he's hopeful the new vision won't be met with resistance from the city.

"There are ways of designing buildings so they fit in with the neighbours." At least three multi-storey buildings already stand nearby.

Litt said their "lightweight and slender" building overlooking the Victoria Park Commons would put its residents within easy walking distance of the downtown core and the new light rail transit line.

"I just want to build a good building," said Litt, whose company has completed a number of restorations and new builds in the region, including the Cedar Brownstones and Doon Village Brownstones in Kitchener and the Silver Thread Lofts in Waterloo.

To date, city planning staff have simply had an initial consultation with the developer, said director of planning Alain Pinard. The next step would be for Revel to submit an application.

"We welcome an opportunity to redevelop that property," Pinard said. "We welcome a change that's going to add value."

Meanwhile, Turner said city staff have encouraged the developers to begin the demolition process on several occasions, to no avail. And in the months since the properties changed hands, they've just deteriorated further — along with the patience of area residents.

"They're something reminiscent of the streets of Detroit," said Tim Willcox.

"They detract from the esthetics of the neighbourhood," he said. "A maintained grass lot will be more esthetically pleasing than the state of the building that's there."

Willcox said the property standards order is a step in the right direction, especially considering the amount of money the city has spent on Victoria Park improvements in recent years.

"I am glad to see that there is movement, finally," he said. "We've waited 15 months now …. I think two months is a very reasonable time frame."

Ward Coun. Frank Etherington said he understands why people have been frustrated.

"These properties are a blight on the heritage area," he said, adding it's disappointing the city has had to act.

"We don't issue that many of this kind of order," Etherington said. "They should be demolished and the site tidied up."

He's still hopeful a high-end condo project will rise on the site.

"It's a great location … I'd love to see it there."
Frustration mounts over deteriorating properties on David Street in Kitchener
April 21, 2014 | Brent Davis | The Record | LINK

Quote:KITCHENER — Frustration is mounting around Victoria Park as a pair of derelict buildings stands untouched by a developer ordered to take action in January.

The city issued a property standards order to the Revel Development Corp. in late January for 51 and 53 David St., telling the owner to either fix up the dilapidated homes or tear them down.

But the two-month deadline came and went in late March with nothing done to the properties. The developer appealed the order, seeking an extension to allow the homes to become a temporary art installation during the Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area (CAFKA) festival this spring.

Even though the developer missed an appeal deadline by several weeks, the appeal will still be considered April 30 by the city's property standards appeal committee, said director of enforcement Shayne Turner.

"The appeal wasn't made within the proper time frame," but it's not up to staff to refuse to hear it, Turner said.

"At this point, we need to let the appeal process play itself out."

Representatives from Revel did not respond to a request for comment.

On April 30, the committee could simply decide not to hear the appeal and rule that the initial order stands, Turner said. The city could then put the wheels in motion to proceed with a demolition application.

The developer could still apply to a court to have the committee decision overturned, Turner said.

"There is a level of frustration … but we're bound by the legal process," he said. "I completely understand why the general public is frustrated."

If an extension is granted, the committee could issue conditions requiring the demolition permit process to begin while the art festival is under way, Turner said.

Following complaints, city crews were sent to the property last week to remove garbage from the site, including a tire and a couple pieces of furniture dumped on the site.

"That's minor compared to the buildings themselves," Turner said.

The former drug dens were purchased in 2012, and Revel plans a condominium project for the property.

An application for a demolition permit, whether it's launched by the developer or the city, would have to go before a heritage committee for approval as the homes sit within the Victoria Park heritage conservation district.

"Enough's enough," said area resident Tim Willcox. "They've been sitting there empty long enough."

Willcox called the idea of painting one home completely white and the other completely black for the art festival scheduled for May 31 to June 29 "beyond ridiculous."

He said the fact the city is spending $567,000 to build new park washrooms while these homes stand, untouched, directly across the street is a "farce."

"Where are the city's priorities?" Willcox asked.

CAFKA's artistic director, Karie Liao, said they were excited by the prospect of transforming the "infamous" buildings.

"I think that it will force people to have a different perspective or a different view of these houses," she said. "Once they're gone, maybe they'll have a lasting memory."

Liao said they were aware of the property standards order, but didn't know an extension has not yet been granted to allow for the CAFKA installation.

"That does sound a little bit concerning," she said. "I think that we are an organization that's pretty flexible. We have to work with the conditions that are set before us."

But Liao said they would be disappointed if Shelburne-area artist Don Miller isn't able to paint the homes.

"We never have the chance to work with an empty space like this."

While Ward Coun. Frank Etherington said he supports CAFKA itself, he won't support this particular idea.

"In my opinion, it's one more move in a stupid game to delay the demolition."

Etherington said he's quickly running out of patience on the issue, adding he's been fielding plenty of complaints from area residents.

"It's been a disgusting sight and I want it cleaned up as soon as possible," he said. "The next step is to demolish those buildings."
Innovative condos would replace crack houses on David Street
June 21, 2014 | Terry Pender | The Record | LINK

Quote:KITCHENER — The Revel Development Corporation unveiled drawings Friday for a park-side condominium on David Street it wants to build on the site of two former crack houses.

The Kitchener-based company, which specializes in urban-infill redevelopment, wants to construct a 12-floor building with 80 units on the property now occupied by the homes at 51 and 53 David St.

The parking garage would be under the residential units. It would be the first in the city to stack vehicles two or three high on special platforms that are lifted for storage, and lowered for access. It would have 42 spaces.

The David Street side of the building would rise to eight floors where a large outdoor patio would overlook the park. The back part of the building would rise to 12 floors.

The detailed plans, made public Friday by Stephen Litt of Revel Development, come nearly two years after the company took possession of the two controversial houses. It bought the site with two derelict houses, knowing it will a prime site for redevelopment.

The 12-storey condo building proposed by Revel is not as tall as the apartment building next door, and slightly higher than another on the opposite side. The site is zoned MU-3 — the highest density zoning allowed by the city.

"The site is surrounded by high-density housing, an apartment building on one side, Kitchener Housing on the other and a retirement home at the back," Litt said.

For more than 15 years, the two houses owned by an absentee landlord were among the most notorious addresses in the central part of the city where sex-trade workers, drug dealers, homeless people and addicts lived.

"It has been a year-and-a-half since I first submitted a site plan," Litt said. "I could be building a year if city staff supported what I want to do."

It has taken 21 months for city officials and councillors to give preliminary approval for the demolition of the two houses, which will cost an estimated $75,000. Negotiations between city planners and the developer for the final design and size of the new building are ongoing, with no final agreement in sight, and are complicated by the need to upgrade the sewer that runs below David Street.

This sewage pipe bottleneck was first identified by city staff two years ago, and the fix is not part of the reconstruction of David Street scheduled to begin in a few days.

City engineers say there is a bottleneck in the sewer somewhere between the Courtland Street entrance to Victoria Park and the main trunk sewer under the park pond. City workers are about to begin the reconstruction of David, but that work will stop at Courtland Street and not clear the bottleneck in the sewage line.

The developer wants the city to extend the new, larger sewer line from the Courtland Street entrance to the park and into the main trunk line under the pond. If not, it could cost $200,000 or more in future to bring all the equipment and workers back to the site to lay less than 40 metres of sewer pipe.

"It does not make any sense," Litt said. "So essentially when I want to build this building I have to rip up the street again. This could be one year from now."

The two old houses at 51 and 53 David St. are currently part of a modern art exhibition in downtown Kitchener. One is painted black, the other white.

After a neighbourhood resident complained about the derelict buildings, the city issued an order to demolish the structures. But that order was issued months before the heritage officials gave preliminary approval for the demolition. Heritage approval was needed first because the houses are in the Victoria Park Heritage Conservation District.

Residents accused the developer of stalling, but Litt said his hands were tied and he still needs a site-plan agreement with the city to proceed with the redevelopment.

"I want them gone as much as anyone else," Litt said. "We are not the bad guy."

Find more details about the building plan at www.precedentontheparc.com.
October 26, 2014

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Someone who is not Revel! Maybe something real will happen on this property instead of drama.
I guess they were able to sell the property after all.
I would like to see something dramatic here.
(10-28-2014, 08:08 AM)clasher Wrote: I would like to see something dramatic here.

What'd you have in mind?
(10-28-2014, 10:39 AM)Spokes Wrote:
(10-28-2014, 08:08 AM)clasher Wrote: I would like to see something dramatic here.

What'd you have in mind?

I liked the idea for a 19 storey building. Something that would really add a 21st century vibe to the park. I'm thinking like Aqua Tower in Chicago or even something like the Turning Torso in Sweden. Obviously built to an appropriate scale but I don't a 19 storey building would really be all that out of place.
I have registered on their site ... hoping for something good.
If you have an extra $900,000.00 lying around this property could be yours:

So another project for this site falls through ... first Revel, then Better Homes. Will they find a taker for this?

$900K for the land, but surely $10M+ for putting up a building, depending on what it ends up being.
Looks like there's a new proposal for this site by Vive Development - 6 stories, 30 units (10x 1B, 20x 2B) and 24 underground parking spots. Undecided whether it will be rentals or condos.

Modern condo could replace derelict site

Let's hope it happens this time! This is a small enough building, selling (or renting) 30 units overlooking the park should not be a problem.
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