Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 29/9/2016 (1610 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
About 75 Crescentwood homeowners are rallying to save a stately Wellington Crescent mansion from the wrecker’s ball.
A spokesman for the residents, who live in the Peanut Park area of Cresentwood, said a Winnipeg firm — Leader Equity Partners — purchased the 107-year-old, 8,000-square-foot home at 514 Wellington Cres. last April for about $1.25 million and plans to demolish it and replace it with a new condominium complex.
"He (Leader Equity Partner president and CEO Jeff Thompson) came to me with the designs and said he wanted to tear the house down and put eight new condominiums up there," neighbour Nick Logan said in an interview. "And I said, ‘Well, that’s not going to fly.’"
Logan, who lives nearby on Kingsway Avenue, said about 75 area homeowners had a meeting in June to discuss the fate of the house, which over the years has been home to such prominent Winnipeggers as Free Press publisher Victor Sifton and Manitoba senator Douglas Everett.
"The community is unanimously opposed to what he (Thompson) is proposing," Logan added.
He said they wouldn’t object to the 21/2-storey home being converted into three condo units, but they’ll fight any attempt to demolish it.
Logan, who is vice-chairman of the Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Corporation’s board of directors and past president and CEO of National Leasing Group, said residents have been told Leader Equity Partners plans to apply to the city this fall to have the property rezoned from single-family to multi-family residential and to seek a permit to demolish it and replace it with the new condo complex.
"The application hasn’t been made yet, but we understand it will be," he added. "So for the past week we’ve been preparing our case."
Thompson did not respond Wednesday to requests for an interview.
John Orlikow, the city councillor for the area, said the developer plans to meet "shortly" with area residents to get their input on a revised redevelopment plan for the property. He said Thompson is hoping to get the blessing of residents before filing any formal applications with the city.
"But we’re really just in the discussing stage," Orlikow added. "He may not file an application. Who knows."
Orlikow said although he personally "loves" the house, that can’t be the only consideration.
"Is the house still viable (as a single-family home)? What kinds of upgrades does it need? There are a whole bunch of factors that go into it."
In a letter sent to Thompson explaining why area residents are opposed to the house being demolished, Logan states the house is in excellent condition. He also disputes Thompson’s claim it’s too big to be a viable single-family home.
"Throughout the city, there exists many homes of this size utilized for single-family use and indeed, new homes approaching and exceeding the size of this home continue to be built on Wellington Crescent," he writes.
He said area residents are also worried about the negative impact a multi-family development could have on the single-family neighbourhood.
"Neighbourhoods like Crescentwood are fragile communities. The existing homes require extensive maintenance and upkeep. Every small zoning change that is allowed has a detrimental effect on the next-door property," he wrote. "When the outside shell of this community is broken with multi-family complexes, the small jewel of the historical grouping cannot survive."
Although 514 Wellington Cres. isn’t a designated heritage property, Heritage Winnipeg executive director Cindy Tugwell agrees it shouldn’t be demolished.
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"In many cases these are beautifully, beautifully built homes that you’ll never, ever, see the likes of again," she said.
Tugwell noted all of the prominent families who have lived there.
"So it has architectural value and history, but it has social value, also," she said.
Tugwell said the case underscores the need for some kind of additional protection for old, historically significant neighbourhoods such as Wellington Crescent and nearby Armstrong Point, which includes East Gate, West Gate and Middle Gate. She noted Armstrong Point residents are seeking a historical conservation designation for their neighbourhood, and hopefully that will encourage other historical communities to do the same.
The grand old Gordon residence
Known as the Gordon residence, 514 Wellington Cres. was built in 1909 and is representative of the large homes in the Crescentwood area. The original owner was James T. Gordon of the meat-packing firm of Gordon, Ironside and Fares.
During the 1920s it was owned by William R. Bawlf, a son of Nicholas Bawlf, the founder of the Winnipeg Grain Exchange, who lived in the house until the late 1930s. Most of the Bawlf family fortune was lost in the stock market crash of 1929.
Victor Sifton, owner and publisher of the Winnipeg Free Press, lived in the house until his sudden death in 1961.
Douglas Everett, a former senator, lived in the house into the 2000s.
— Free Press archives, Manitoba Historical Society