Historic Albert Street mansion escapes the wrecking ball for time being
The historic Cook House mansion on Albert Street in Regina has escaped the wrecking ball, for now.
City councillor Barbara Young was surprised by the Regina Planning Commission’s unanimous defense of the Albert Street mansion.
“I expected there might be some debate back and forth,” Young said. “We can appreciate the past but it also makes our city beautiful. I think it’s really important to try to save as many of those properties as we can.”
It was a sentiment echoed by roughly a dozen Regina residents who came out to Wednesday’s meeting to push back against an application to demolish the 90-year-old Tudor-style mansion.
The demolition application has been halted until city council decides whether or not to grant the house heritage status.
While it would be an usual move, the city says two properties have been given heritage status against the owner’s wishes.
Councillor Bob Hawkins called the notion of destruction ‘nothing less than the wanton disregard of our city’s past and an offence to our city’s future.’
“If this isn’t a heritage building, then there’s not a heritage building in our city,” Hawkins urged.
The issue also attracted the ire of other residents in the neighbourhood.
“In the last ten years major change has been going on in Lakeview,” resident Gillian McCreary said. “There’s all sorts of infill going up. It would be such a shame to lose a grand old home- one of the grandest old homes, I would say.”
“It has a lot of history- the people that have lived there, there architects who designed those houses,” Lynn Goldman added. “I think we should be celebrating them instead of just wiping them out of our city.”
Adriana Gourgaris and Carmen Lien purchased the property back in November 2018 before applying to tear it down. While the pair were not present at the meeting, a representative named Layne Arthur told the commission they were unaware the house had the potential for heritage status.
Administration said it had multiple conversations with the pair to encourage them to apply for heritage designations and incentives. While he didn’t dive into specifics, Arthur said the owners hoped to build some form of housing on the property.
Arthur said Gourgaris and Lien had done their due diligence and proper repairs could rack up a $2.5 million tab. The heritage tax exemption is estimated at about $10,688.66 each year.
The planning commission’s recommendation that the house be preserved will be forwarded to city council’s January 28 meeting.
“This would be a major step in the right direction,” Schmidt said. “We’ve worked really hard with the city to come up with a designation plan that we can support-this is the first time it’s going to be tried.”
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