Ottawa

Businesses worried about prolonged Magee House dilemma

Businesses in Hintonburg are concerned it'll be a drawn-out process to decide the fate of the partially-collapsed Magee House, and that the neighbourhood will suffer.

BIA wants quick answer to question of whether to demolish partially collapsed building

Magee House, a 19th-century building located at 1119 Wellington Street W. in Ottawa's Hintonburg neighbourhood, partially collapsed on July 24, 2018. (Scott Stilborn/Ottawa Fire Services)

Businesses in Hintonburg are concerned it'll be a drawn-out process to decide the fate of the partially-collapsed Magee House, and that the neighbourhood will suffer.

One of the heritage building's walls crumbled earlier this week and officials are trying to determine whether it needs to be torn down entirely or if any of it can be salvaged.

Until a decision is made, the area near the building on Wellington Street W. is partially blocked to vehicles.

The executive director of the Wellington West business improvement area said he's hoping for a quick resolution to bring back easy access for deliveries and customers.

"As long as that one block is closed and that building sort of teeters on the edge in this limbo state, those things are just not going to be happening," said Dennis Van Staalduinen on CBC Radio's All In A Day Thursday.

Just the one block being closed off is enough to affect businesses all along Wellington Street W., Van Staalduinen said.

But while demolishing the building would be a quick solution, Van Staalduinen said most businesses are torn on whether Magee House should be salvaged or not.

Dennis Van Staalduinen, the executive director of the Wellington West BIA, is concerned about the effect the Magee House collapse will have on local businesses. (Darren Major/CBC)

"The road will open up more quickly if they determine it's going to come down, but of course we also love that building and we want to see it saved," he said.

What Van Staalduinen does not want to see is another repeat of the Somerset House debacle on Bank Street.

"That seems to be the worst-case scenario that the street is closed down for months at a time and there's limbo and court cases and lawsuits firing back and forth," he said.

Somerset House is another heritage building that has been sitting vacant for more than a decade due to legal issues and various redesign plans.

art of a building collapsed on Wellington Street W. near Rosemount Avenue Tuesday evening. 0:34

After it was revealed that the city believed Magee House had been vacant — the owner, Ovidio Sbrissa, had been living there for 17 years — Van Staalduinen is also questioning the city's commitment to heritage sites.

"Ovidio is a local character," he said, adding that all it would have taken is a knock on the door or contacting anyone in the neighbourhood to find out he was living there.

"The fact that they come by and couldn't tell that someone was living there, that makes me wonder if they even got out of the car?"

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