Osborne Village historic home may lose heritage status due to crumbling structure
Owner Jerry Cianflone says he wants to build something new while respecting the past
A historic building in Winnipeg's Osborne Village neighbourhood could lose its heritage status because it's structurally falling apart.
John C. Falls House, located at 36 Roslyn Rd., is on the city's list of Historical Resources, which prevents any demolition and says the architecture must be preserved as much as possible.
The brick building, which a city report says was built in 1907, used to be the home of Winnipeg businessman John Claire Falls.
Jerry Cianflone, owner of the Pizza Hotline chain, bought the house in August 2021, understanding it would need some updates.
"I wasn't afraid of it, though, because ... I've done other projects," he said. "I thought, 'it shouldn't be so bad.' But, unfortunately, that wasn't the case."
Cianflone originally wanted to put his office there and rent space to others. However, when he started the renovations, he found the building was in worse shape than expected.
Now, he's asking city council to remove the building's heritage status so he can demolish it and build something new.
Cianflone said it's the first time he's worked with a historic building.
"I just want to bring in the experts who have done this before because I don't want to step on anyone's toes. I want to respect the past and build something beautiful."
Cianflone said he's not sure what he would build, but anything new would have to be approved under the city's Osborne Village Secondary Plan.
Building on the brink of collapse
Engineers found the Osborne Village building to be structurally unsound and said it should be demolished within the next five years.
The committee heard the ground beneath the building is shifting and its stone foundation is in such bad shape that the brick walls and supports have started to move.
Cianflone's consultants told the committee the home is on the brink of collapse, and that the existing tenants have six months to get out.
Cianflone said it would cost about $3.1 million to keep the integrity of the home, take the house apart, replace the foundation and rebuild — a cost he said is not feasible for him.
If he were to get the building delisted, Cianflone said he would reuse whatever he could — mainly the bricks and the wooden joists.
He told the city's property committee that he was going to get an inspection and have consultants look at the house before he bought it, but the housing market was so hot that the realtor said he'd lose the deal if he didn't accept as soon as possible.
Heritage Winnipeg backs delisting
Heritage Winnipeg took a rare stance on this by supporting the delisting.
"In 30 years in my career, we've only supported this maybe twice," said Cindy Tugwell, Heritage Winnipeg's executive director. "This is heart-wrenching today to do this."
Tugwell told the committee she's been working with Cianflone. She even toured the building to see it for herself, calling the lack of maintenance by the previous owner "appalling."
Part of the reason Tugwell supported the delisting is because she believes Cianflone wants to build something that would fit in.
"I think the owner has gone above and beyond," said Tugwell. "The transparency and collaboration is very critical."
The committee voted 3-1 in favour of delisting the property. Coun. Vivian Santos (Point Douglas) was the outlier. She asked several questions about other options, and said she needed more time to think about her vote before it goes to city council.
The delisting motion will go to the city's executive policy committee on March 16.