Committee, heritage advocates back removal of Falls house protected status

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An Osborne Village heritage building could soon lose its protected status, after a city committee agreed it’s too damaged to reasonably save.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 07/03/2022 (266 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

An Osborne Village heritage building could soon lose its protected status, after a city committee agreed it’s too damaged to reasonably save.

On Monday, the property and development committee voted 3-1 in favour of removing 36 Roslyn Rd. from the City of Winnipeg’s list of historical resources, which protects it against demolition.

Known as the John C. Falls House, the brick property was constructed in 1907, and granted heritage status in 1994. The building has many characteristics of the Queen Anne Revival style, which blends “classical and medieval motifs into a picturesque form,” according to a city report.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS On Monday, the property and development committee voted 3-1 in favour of removing 36 Roslyn Rd. from the City of Winnipeg’s list of historical resources, which protects it against demolition.

“(However,) within the last eight to 10 weeks, the house has shifted and deteriorated rapidly… As a result, we now have a house that’s falling down,” said Daniel Serhal, principal of Serhal Consulting, who works with the building’s owner.

Serhal noted Monday an engineer who assessed the structure, which currently serves as an office building, advised the owner to have all tenants vacate it within the next six months. Previous assessments noted the exterior foundation walls were “in very poor condition.”

Jerry Cianflone said he bought the building in August 2021, intending to restore it and continue to using it as office space.

“While we were renovating, I noticed on the outside of the building that there was clear visible shifting that was occurring. It was very rapidly deteriorating,” said Cianflone, the founder of Pizza Hotline.

On March 2, the latest engineer’s report advised sections of the wall are at risk of collapsing. An estimate found it would cost about $3.1 million to take apart the building and safely rebuild it.

“This obviously is not a viable option… I can’t go to the bank and borrow $3 million on a 5,000-square-foot home. It just won’t work,” said Cianflone.

Instead, the owner now plans to demolish the building and create some form of housing at the site, though the details have yet to be worked out. Cianflone told the committee he would aim to incorporate as many of the original bricks and wooden joists as possible into the new structure, if approved.

On Monday, a prominent heritage advocate said her organization also made the “heart-wrenching” decision to support removing the building’s heritage protection.

Cindy Tugwell, executive director of Heritage Winnipeg, said it appears the building was already in poor condition when it was purchased last year. That means it’s now at risk of sitting vacant for an extended period if the delisting is rejected, she said.

“If, in fact, you don’t support this delisting today… the building will be boarded up and it will be a matter of time before the deterioration (would be) expedited,” she said.

Couns. Cindy Gilroy, Kevin Klein and Janice Lukes voted to remove the structure’s heritage listing; Coun. Vivian Santos opposed, noting she has lingering questions.

The decision still requires council approval.

The committee heard many original elements of John C. Falls House had already been altered or removed.

“A lot of the character defining elements, the previous owner had already taken some of that… (When that happens) you start to lose some of those defining characteristics of a heritage building,” said Gilroy.

Meanwhile, the property and development committee also opted to approve a break for eight retail businesses that rent space from the city — six of which are located in the underground concourse at 365 Main St.

Gilroy, Lukes and Santos voted to waive 50 per cent of the rent fees for six months, due to COVID-19 pandemic-driven losses.

Klein opposed the motion over concerns about the city helping select businesses cope with COVID-19 losses many others have also endured.

The rent assistance would require full council approval.

joyanne.pursaga@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @ joyanne_pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga
Reporter

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.

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