Historic Buildings committee spares Kelly House

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The Kelly House has been given a reprieve.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/10/2008 (5150 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Kelly House has been given a reprieve.

David Rich, the owner of the last intact house from the city’s Exchange District building boom of 1882, had asked the city to remove its Grade III status as a heritage building in order to pave the way for demolition.

But Jenny Gerbasi, chairwoman of the city’s historic buildings committee, said Friday the committe has decided not to delist the property.

“It still retains its heritage value,” she said, adding an engineer found the house to be structurally sound.

The issue next goes before the planning and property development committe.

If they overturn the ruling, it then would eventually go before city council.

“But they usually listen to us,” Gerbassi said.

Cindy Tugwell of Heritage Winnipeg is encouraged by the historic buildings committee’s decision.

“It’s been my experience that any decision by the committee weighs heavily with (city council).”

Tugwell fears David Rich, who bought the house about 15 years ago, has intended all along to turn the property into another surface parking lot.

And given the current plethora of parking lots in the downtown, “to tear down anything for surface parking is a disgrace.”

“Winnipeg is known for its fabulous architecture. We’re destroying the very thing we are known for. We have no mountains, no oceans, but we have these great buildings.”

Tugwell agrees the building at 88 Adelaide St. is an eyesore now, but that’s because it has been neglected by the owner.

“For good things to happen, you need a sympathetic building owner, one not just concerned with monetary benefit. It is simply in the wrong person’s hands. He had no intention of doing anything with it.”

Gerbassi said owners of heritage buildings know they have that designation when they buy them.

“They have the responsibility to maintain these buildings. Unfortunately, some don’t.”

But she said the owner of Kelly House is not necessarily saddled with an unusable property.

“CentreVenture expanded its area a few years ago. The house is now within CentreVenture. The owner could apply for funding to make improvements.”

The house was built by Michael Kelly. He lost the home after his family’s architectural firm became embroiled in a corruption scandal while building the Manitoba legislature.

Rich could not be reached for comment, but he said in an interview with CBC news that the house is in terrible shape and would cost too much to refurbish. It’s been broken into several times and most of the copper pipes are gone.

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