The concern over Somerset House is hitting the news again (for a snarky refresher…). The city is tired of the building just sitting there, blocking public space and uglying up a major downtown intersection. For most of the past decade, they’ve been letting things slide, not charging the owner the fines he would otherwise incur by leaving that shell to rot at Bank and Somerset.
Thankfully, this has changed. I have no idea if this means that anything will happen, or that the owner will just become more obstinate.
The issue has spilled over in the the Somerset Ward race. Jeff Morrison has been a champion of recuperating Somerset House (as well as other buildings) for quite some time now. Good on him.
Somerset Candidate stands up for local businessman
Once again, the City of Ottawa has chosen to bully rather than help a local businessman and attempt to rewrite history.
The city is about to revoke a deal to waive the encroachment fees for Somerset House, thus risking the owner reviving a countersuit for 5 million dollars. This makes for great electoral optics, but this is not how we build trust with developers who want to save our heritage structures.
The attempts to rewrite history are painting an Iranian immigrant who has built several successful businesses in this city, and who has a good track record for doing heritage renovations the right way as the kind of property owner who has been negligent and is letting buildings go through demolition by neglect.
McVeigh is correct that the city shares in the blame, here. More cooperation would have been prudent, but, in the end, the city’s biggest mistake was letting this go on for as long as it did. I’m with Morrison; it’s about time the city forced the owner’s hand.