The future of a heritage building in downtown London is still up in the air.
The city’s planning committee decided to put off making a decision for another month after JAM Properties, the new owners of 123 Queens Ave., submitted a request to demolish the old industrial building near Queens Avenue and Talbot Street, saying it’s deteriorating and poses a safety risk.
One of the issues voiced by councillors is that the new owners don’t have a plan for the site and want to replace it, for now, with a parking lot.
“Our hands are tied in terms of what we can and can’t do,” said Coun. Anna Hopkins. “There’s something maybe coming forward that we are doing this for a parking lot, and I struggle with that as well so I have a dilemma here.”
But Martha Leach, one of the partial owners of the property, assured committee members that they have intentions of building something “amazing and awesome” at 123 Queens Ave.
“It’s not our highest and best use to have it as a parking lot, but we do not have a site plan for that as of yet,” she said.
Council has advocated against turning buildings into parking lots in recent years. City staff also recommended against tearing down the Downtown Heritage Conservation District building, which used to be part of a clothing manufacturer named Greene-Swift Company.
But Adam Jean from the law firm located next door, Harrison Pensa, said: “It’s putting it politely to say it’s an eyesore.”
“The location does have historical significance,” Jean continued. “In its current state, it’s not representative of our city, past or present, or the revitalization of the downtown core. The building has been uninhabited, as mentioned, for decades. What remains is a shell, with boarded-up windows and doors and a decaying concrete exterior and roof. It continues to deteriorate.”
Ultimately, the planning committee deferred the matter for another month so more information could be gathered.