July 7, 2020

16° C, Clear

Full Forecast


Advertise With Us

St. Charles owner fights heritage label in court action

Wants to demolish building

Owner Ken Zaifman bought the hotel in 2005 and later pledged to turn it into a boutique hotel. Now he wants to demolish it.


Owner Ken Zaifman bought the hotel in 2005 and later pledged to turn it into a boutique hotel. Now he wants to demolish it.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/2/2014 (2320 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The owner of the St. Charles Hotel has taken the City of Winnipeg to court to remove the historic designation from the 101-year-old Exchange District structure, which he hopes to demolish.

Immigration lawyer Ken Zaifman wants the city to remove a heritage caveat from the title of the hotel, which he purchased in 2005 for $800,000 and later pledged to redevelop into a boutique hotel.

In documents filed with the Court of Queen's Bench, Zaifman argued he wasn't aware the building was designated a historic property when he bought it and likely would not have made the purchase had he known that.

Zaifman also argued the caveat should be removed because the city missed a December 2011 deadline for placing the caveat on the building -- something the province ordered the city to do for all heritage buildings as part of an amendment to the City of Winnipeg Charter the previous year.

'Going the legal route is not an option I embraced with any enthusiasm'‐ Ken Zaifman

Zaifman told the Free Press he has applied for a demolition permit and asked the city to remove the caveat, but the city refused.

"Going the legal route is not an option I embraced with any enthusiasm," he said.

In an affidavit, Zaifman said he always intended to redevelop the property, "which in my view requires the demolition of the premises in order to make way for a new structure."

The city countered in its own affidavit that Zaifman was aware the St. Charles was a heritage structure because the corporation he controls, St. Charles Enterprises Centre, is the entity that applied for the historic designation in the first place.

City lawyer Markus Buchart said even if Zaifman didn't know about the designation, it was incumbent on his attorneys to find out it was a historic building because the list of those buildings is a public document.

Buchart nonetheless insisted Zaifman was aware it was a historic building and cited as evidence a meeting between Zaifman and city heritage officials, as well as a 2004 email from Zaifman to former city heritage planner Giles Bugailiskis during which Zaifman stated he expected to work with the city's historic buildings committee.

On Feb. 21, Buchart asked the court to throw out the case.

Zaifman's lawyer, Jamie Kagan, said his client only met with city heritage officials because the St. Charles Hotel is located within the Exchange District National Historic Site, a federally designated area.

Kagan also said it doesn't matter whether his client knew about the historic designation. What's more important, he said, is the city missed the deadline for placing the caveat on the property by two months. The heritage caveat should have been placed in December 2011 but was not placed on the title until February 2012.

This argument will be presented when the case returns to court March 17.

Buchart, meanwhile, claimed the two-month delay in placing the caveat caused Zaifman no harm. Buchart also noted Zaifman did not apply to remove the historic designation from the building -- an option available to the owner of any heritage structure.

Zaifman said in an interview he always maintained an open mind about preserving the building. "I didn't go into the project with the predisposition to demolish it. No one seems to want to accept this, because of the delay," he said, referring to the eight years it has taken to redevelop the structure.

Zaifman first approached the city with a plan to redevelop the hotel in 2006. But his initial proposal depended on the demolition the adjacent Albert Street Business Block -- something the city refused until substantial improvements were made to the St. Charles. The business block later burned down.

As the hotel stood vacant, the city began slapping vacant-and derelict-building orders on the structure in 2010. Those orders continued until 2013, when the city came close to seizing the property with the intention of selling it.

Zaifman said pressure from the city and criticism from Heritage Winnipeg led him to review his documents and discover the city failed to meet the provincial deadline. City spokesman Steve West said the city is contesting the action.



Advertise With Us

Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.

To those who have made donations, thank you.

To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.

The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.

After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.

If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.

We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.


Updated on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 7:42 PM CST: Changes photo.

The Free Press will close this commenting platform at noon on July 14.

We want to thank those who have shared their views over the years as part of this reader engagement initiative.

In the coming weeks, the Free Press will announce new opportunities for readers to share their thoughts and to engage with our staff and each other.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.


Advertise With Us