City goes after Somerset House owner over slow pace of renovation
Heritage building partially collapsed in 2007, has been mostly untouched since
The owner of a derelict, heritage building on downtown Ottawa’s Bank Street is in line to start paying thousands of dollars in fees after a city committee voted to stop waiving them.
Somerset House has sat empty at the corner of Bank and Somerset streets since 2007, the same year it partially collapsed.
Ottawa’s finance and development committee decided Tuesday morning it would take away a waiver allowing Somerset House owner Tony Shahrasebi to avoid fees that have totalled more than $43,000 for not renovating the site.
"We’ve had excuse after excuse. Nothing has happened," said Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.
"I go by that building quite frequently. It's an eyesore. It’s an embarrassment."
Renovation approved last year
Somerset House, a former hotel and site of the old Duke of Somerset pub, partially collapsed in the fall of 2007 during construction work happening without a permit, which forced the closure of the intersection for weeks for safety reasons.
Part of the building was demolished in December of that year and it has remained much the same through a series of legal battles.
Ottawa’s heritage committee approved renovation plans in October 2013 that would see part of the building restored and part replaced with glass.
After the plan was approved by city council, Shahrasebi was given two years to begin work on the building starting Nov. 13, 2013.
Watson said he’s also going to contact the province to see if there are any ways to help the city stop heritage sites from falling into disrepair.
"We’ve had months and months, if not years of promises… the windows in many instances have been shot out, the back roof is completely gone, the public is fed up and I’m fed up," he said.
Shahrasebi was not available to comment on Tuesday.