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Heritage committee OK’s interior renovations at historic downtown building

Updated: Jan 16

Interior renovations to a downtown building were endorsed by the town’s heritage committee last week.

The building at 63-73 Murray St. will see interior work conducted with the heritage committee hearing the plans last Thursday evening. According to a report from heritage planner Adam Coates, the owners of the building have applied to the building department to demolish the interior of the second level, reconfigure the rear entrance and reconstruct entrances on the side and rear of the building.

Coates said much of what will be removed on the second floor is not original to the building.

The report outlines the interior walls for the apartments that were upstairs are not original and “are in poor condition.” The interior walls, as well as cabinetry and “other elements” in the units “do not have cultural heritage value.”

Baseboards on exterior walls may be original, Coates stated, and stated the applicants have indicated they intend to save those.

Windows on the second floor were described by Coates as being in “fair to poor condition based on initial visual inspection” will not be worked on at the present time.

“The applicant is proposing to remove the drop ceiling of the second level. At some point a drop ceiling was added to the second level, likely when the apartments were constructed. This drop ceiling has no value,” Coates stated. “During the site visit, the Heritage Planner was able to see above the drop ceiling and noticed that the original ceiling height is roughly five-feet above the drop ceiling. The plaster of the original height ceiling has signs of water damage and some areas have been removed to accommodate renovations and updated mechanical chases.”

Coates added: “In the ceiling cavity the structural columns could be easily viewed. These slim columns have Corinthian-style capitals. These columns have potential cultural heritage value. The applicant intends to leave the columns (they are structural) and refinish them as part of a future scope of work.”

The report also identifies that a separated entrance is being proposed for access to the basement, requiring a reconfiguration of interior walls around existing stairs and a new entrance at the rear of the building.

Brick infill around doors on the east side of the building is being proposed for removal, replaced by doors and windows in the original opening size. Current doors are not original, Coates stated.

Wood stairs and a wood patio at the rear of the building are also scheduled to be removed with Coates stating “there are no potential heritage attributes associated with the removal of this item.”

Lauri Brouyette, representing the ownership of the buildings at 63-73 Murray St. and 70 Murray St., outlined some of their plans to the committee.

“We have done this in a couple of different phases,” said Brouyette. “We learned through our experiences at 70 Murray St. that once you uncover what’s actually in there, you get a number of surprises.”

Brouyette told committee members their architect is working on a second set of plans, with the current plan to remove exterior stairs and have a terrace at the back.

Future applications are anticipated for work on the exterior, Coates indicated.

“It is the Heritage Planner’s opinion that the current proposed scope of work would not impact potential heritage attributes or the character of the property. This property is a candidate for full designation status under the Ontario Heritage Act. The owner is a steward of heritage properties, but the extent of future proposed work is not clear at this time. Although this property is within the study area for the Heritage Conservation District, the district is likely not to be adopted prior applicant needing to complete further work on the property,” he said. “There is low cultural risk associated with the proposed scope of work. The proposed work is mainly interior demolition and removal of infill brick on the east elevation. That being said, this property will be seeing future applications for work to be completed on the exterior.”

Coates told the committee the work is adjacent to the work being done by the same applicants currently working on the building across the street at 70 Murray St. The buildings are in the proposed “Anchor District.”

“Through what I saw on site, there was nothing of heritage or potential heritage value in what they are proposing to remove,” Coates said.

The building dates back to 1877, built by John Kolfage two years after a fire destroyed structures on the block that had been owned by Kolfage. Coates said the property currently sits as a property of interest with non-designated status.

“I think what these proponents did with 70 Murray St., gives at least myself a great deal of confidence, that they’re the proper stewards for this building,” said Deputy Mayor Chris Gibb. “I’m very confident in what they’ve done. The fact the heritage planner signed off on it, I’d see no reason we’d get in their way.”   “I would agree 100 per cent on that,” added committee chair Simon Chamely. 

During last Thursday evening’s meeting, Chamely was re-acclaimed as chair while Shirley Curson-Prue returns as vice chair. Other committee members include Gibb, Councillor Linden Crain, Frank DiPasquale, Robert Honor and Stephanie Pouget-Papak.

By Ron Giofu

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