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This article was published 1/10/2016 (1608 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A prominent Winnipeg businessman has defended plans to demolish a Wellington Crescent mansion and replace it with a new condominium complex.

Jeff Thompson, president and CEO of Leader Equity Partners, said he looked into the feasibility of keeping the 21/2-storey home at 514 Wellington Cres. as a single-family dwelling, or converting it into three condo units. Neither option was economically viable, he said.

"I did considerable due diligence and it became clear the current home would require extensive and prohibitively costly renovations to be brought up to acceptable building standards," he said.

He said he wasn’t the only one who came to that conclusion. He noted the 8,000-square-foot, 107-year-old home was on the market for eight months, and no one else submitted a purchase offer.

"So you can conclude (from that) that it was not a feasible option," he said. "Houses have their life cycle, and this house is at the end of its cycle."

Thompson was commenting after the Free Press reported Thursday a group of Crescentwood homeowners are rallying to save the home from the wrecker’s ball. They maintain the house is historically and socially significant, having been the home to a number of prominent families, including the son of the founder of the Winnipeg Stock Exchange, former Free Press publisher Victor Sifton and former Manitoba Senator Douglas Everett.

Heritage Winnipeg executive director Cindy Tugwell is also opposed to it being demolished, saying the case underscores the need for some kind of additional protection for old, historically significant neighbourhoods such as Crescentwood and nearby Armstrong Point.

BORIS MINKEVICH / FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>The 8,000-square-foot home was built in 1909.</p>

BORIS MINKEVICH / FREE PRESS FILES

The 8,000-square-foot home was built in 1909.

Thompson said those who suggest the house is in good condition have only seen it from the outside. They haven’t seen what needs to be done on the inside.

He also denied a suggestion he’s looking to make a quick profit. He said six families, including his own, will be building the new complex, and all six plan to live there once it’s completed.

He said the group has already had extensive consultations with area residents to get their feedback, and agreed to scale the project back to six units from the original eight to 10. It has also gone to great lengths to ensure the new complex will fit in with the surrounding neighbourhood.

"We are really proud of the design because it reflects, without question, the character of the neighbourhood," he said, adding they won’t be releasing an artist’s rendering of what it will look like until after area residents have had a chance to see it.

Thompson, who purchased the home and is the spokesman for the six families redeveloping it, also argued their project is the kind of infill development the city wants to see in existing neighbourhoods. He noted a number of other homes in the area, including several on Wellington Crescent, have been demolished in the past and replaced with new ones.

He said he plans to hold additional meetings with area residents, as well as a public open house, over the next month or so, to get further feedback. He’s not sure how soon they will be applying to the city to have the property rezoned, and for permission to demolish the house.

Area resident Nick Logan, who is the spokesman for the residents opposed to the project, said reducing the size of the condo complex doesn’t change anything. He and other area residents remain opposed to the house being torn down, and will continue their fight to save it.

He said they’re hoping Thompson will put it back on the market and it will be purchased by someone who is prepared to restore it.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca