Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/1/2016 (465 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The owner of the Fortune building is disappointed in this week's decision to grant heritage status to his property and two others on Main Street.
"The decision that was made (on heritage status) was based more on emotion than rational decision on what is possible in that area and what is best for the city," said George Landes, who, along with his wife, Shirley, has owned the property at 232 Main St., for the last 20 years.
The city's property and development committee was persuaded by a group headed up by local businessman John Pollard, who is interested in buying and refurbishing the Fortune Building and the adjoining MacDonald building and would considering doing the same with the Winnipeg Hotel, to approve the heritage status.
The owners of the three properties would rather see the trio demolished to make way for a $35-million, 150-room extended-stay hotel.
Landes said he was also upset about the way the Toronto developers were treated at the meeting. The proposed hotel would feature a main-floor restaurant with an atrium and patios.
The top two floors of the Fortune Building have been vacant for 45 years and would require being gutted down to the studs to replace all the plumbing and electrical. The windows and the roof need to be replaced, too.
Landes said a financial feasibility study has projected the cost of renovating the three buildings to be $17 million, not including the price of acquiring them. Because the refurbishment costs on all three will be so high, it's possible the city will be left with "eyesore derelict" buildings, he said.
"What good is that to anybody?" he said.
Landes also doesn't buy the contention the failure to renovate the Fortune Building will doom the Times Change(d) High and Lonesome Club, the longtime tenant on the main floor.
"This is part of the emotional sentiment going on. It's not realistic to think that (the blues bar) with the great following that it has couldn't replicate that in another location. To think a whole $35-million renewal project could die because of a 1,350-square-foot nightclub is just bizarre," he said.
Landes said he decided to go public with his views because he didn't like being vilified in the media as the bad guy who wanted to demolish three old buildings.
Whether the heritage status sticks will be up to all of city council. Because the building owners formally opposed the designation, a vote on the issue will be put to all council members.
Regardless of what happens to the Fortune Building, Landes said he and his wife will sell their ownership stake. He said any details regarding a possible selling price are being kept confidential.