City of Regina to seek advice from province on Cook house heritage designation
The owner of Regina’s Cook residence on the corner of Albert St. and Hill Ave. will have to wait a little longer to learn if he can tear down and rebuild, as city council is referring the matter to the province.
In January, council passed a motion to declare 3160 Albert St. a heritage property. Such a designation would mean owner Carmen Lien would have to restore the house instead of starting fresh. Because Lien opposes the decision, Mayor Michael Fougere said the city had two options: “We can refer to the province for their opinion or we can defeat the bylaw and leave it as [non-heritage property].”
Council voted to have the Heritage Review Board look into the designation on Monday. The board will hold a hearing to understand both sides of the case. Once the hearing is adjourned, the board will have 30 days to submit their recommendations to the city. Council will take those findings into consideration before making a final decision.
“I think it’s a good idea to give us a fresh set of eyes on did you think about these issues and come back with a perspective for us,” said Mayor Fougere, adding this is the first time in his tenure that the city has had to consult the province for something like this.
Lien bought the Cook residence in November 2018. He later applied for a demolition permit.
“This property is falling apart with the majority of it reaching its final life span,” Lien told council on Monday. “The majority of the heritage elements need to be replaced.”
After consulting an engineer, Lien learned fixing the foundation alone would cost around $1 million dollars. He says a full restoration could cost upwards of $3.8 million, which he says is a high price tag for a house that would be worth a little over $1 million in the end.
Heritage properties qualify for tax incentives on restoration costs, but Lien says that would cover less than four per cent of the overall construction.
“The windows have significant damage and require a significant amount of work. There are multiple moisture penetrations and, more importantly, there are [hazardous materials] inside this property that are being disturbed,” Lien said.
Built in 1929, the Cook house is one the most historic buildings in the Lakeview neighbourhood. That’s one reason why Heritage Regina is fighting for its designation status.
“This is a grade one listed heritage property,” said Heritage Regina president Jackie Schmidt. “Historically, architecturally, it’s one of the premier houses in the city.”
Schmidt says this is only the third time in Regina’s history that the city is imposing a heritage designation on a building. Usually, a designation is sought after by the owner.
But Lien says if the decision goes in his favour, he would work with the city to design a new building that pays respect to the current Tudor-style mansion.
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