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Old Posted Jan 19, 2011, 2:46 PM
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Somerset House | ?M | 4 fl | In decay

Architect blames city’s permit process for lengthy delays in rebuilding Somerset House
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
By Tom Spears, Ottawa Citizen
In October 2007, the southeast corner of the Duke of Somerset Pub building at Bank and Somerset streets partly collapsed. All work stopped, and the intersection was closed for eight weeks. The city intended to demolish the building, saying it was unsafe. Instead it agreed to let rebuilding go ahead, after tearing off the fourth floor of the back of the building. Photographed by:
PAT MCGRATH, THE OTTAWA CITIZENOTTAWA — The architect for the former Duke of Somerset Pub building hopes to have a building permit within days, but says he has never seen the city play such hardball.

The delays over rebuilding the 1890s heritage building, also known as Somerset House, have “given the city a black eye,” says architect Derek Crain, who also chairs the Somerset Village BIA.

In October 2007, the southeast corner of the building at Bank and Somerset streets partly collapsed. All work stopped, and the intersection was closed for eight weeks. The city intended to demolish the building, saying it was unsafe. Instead it agreed to let rebuilding go ahead, after tearing off the fourth floor of the back of the building. That is now the subject of a lawsuit between the city and owner Tony Shahrasebi.

Crain said the project has been singled out for “special treatment — not in a positive way” by City Hall.

“The city’s way has been to say, ‘It’s our way or the highway’, and they’ve been really tough. I’ve never seen a permit process as onerous as this,” he said. “And that’s the city’s prerogative.”

He applied for a building permit in 2008.

“It’s an important heritage building in this city. ... It’s been a struggle and I’m a bit upset that my city has been so hard on this owner, and we’re working hard to get it into the constructive infrastructure of our city.”

A major hurdle now is that the city has ordered Shahrasebi to rebuild the Duke according to the 2006 Building Code, “which is much more punitive and much more costly,” Crain said.

For example, the measures now demanded to resist earthquakes will require the owner to remove the steel frame he has recently installed and replace it with a concrete frame. This is slow and expensive, and makes the final structure heavier — a major complication, as it sits on clay that Crain calls “not that great.”

He called this “a horrendous imposition.”

“I’m trying desperately to save this building,” he said. “It is, despite what the fire department or anyone else says, structurally sound.” (A recent report from the Ottawa Fire Service listed the Duke as one of 35 dangerous buildings that could collapse on firefighters in its current state.)

Crain said the structural engineer retained by the city has now approved the application. There should be a permit within days, and Crain says work could start in six to 12 months.

The building is 55 feet by 110 feet. When rebuilt, it will be three storeys. It may end up as a restaurant and bar, Crain said, but that still has to be determined.

“The Somerset Village BIA is very much in favour of getting this corner developed and rebuilt, and get it into the marketplace,” he said. “Even the sidewalk is horrible now because you can’t use the street effectively.”

Development should proceed regardless of what is happening with the lawsuits, he said.

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
http://www.ottawacitizen.com/mobile/...557/story.html
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Old Posted Jan 19, 2011, 4:16 PM
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Walking by this disaster all the time, I felt like no one was working on getting anything started. As such, the fact that the media is even talking about it is good news. Here's hoping they start construction within 6 months. This should be a priority for the Bank Street BIA lean on the city about. Boarded up buildings do not present a good face for any neighbourhood and suggest it is an area in decline.

A timeline from an Ottawa Sun article in November:

Oct. 19, 2007

A construction worker was miraculously rescued unhurt after two floors of the building that had housed the Duke of Somerset fell on him.

Dec. 5, 2007

The owner of the building that formerly housed the Duke of Somerset sought an injunction as a “last resort” after city officials declared the structure unsafe and unsalvageable, and were preparing to have it demolished.

Dec. 11,2007

Crews used a crane and giant steel grappling jaws to eat away at the fourth floor of the eastern portion of the building.

April 16, 2008

A local developer who had hoped to save the historic structure said he is suing the city for more than $2 million after it demolished his building on Somerset St. W.

“I better win, they tore my building down,” owner Tony Shahrasebi said.

Nov.22, 2010

Shahrasebi still waits for a city building permit.

Article here: http://www.ottawasun.com/news/column.../16249851.html

Some interesting comments at the end of this article. I never went to the old pub there but it seems many people have memories of it being a place to score drugs and look for trouble.

If they do open a new pub, they will have to do something to differentiate themselves from the dozen or so others on the street already. I would love to see a really good theme pub. I was at The Slaughtered Lamb in NYC last year and really enjoyed the unique atmosphere. At least it would be something different than the 100's of faux Brittish and Irish pubs in Ottawa....that being said, 'THe Lamb' is modelled after a similar pub in England .
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Old Posted Jan 19, 2011, 4:42 PM
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Originally Posted by O-Town Hockey View Post
Some interesting comments at the end of this article. I never went to the old pub there but it seems many people have memories of it being a place to score drugs and look for trouble.

If they do open a new pub, they will have to do something to differentiate themselves from the dozen or so others on the street already. I would love to see a really good theme pub. I was at The Slaughtered Lamb in NYC last year and really enjoyed the unique atmosphere. At least it would be something different than the 100's of faux Brittish and Irish pubs in Ottawa.....
I went to the old pub (basement level only) primarily to watch footie that wasn't available at the time on channels available at home. I remember watching England/Scotland in November 1999, the result key to who would go to Euro 2000. An acquaintance of mine was interviewed by cbc tv on the importance of the game (he is from England) and his boss saw it on the evening news...his boss thought he was at a client meeting..needless to say he was 3 sheets to the wind when interviewed.

Re: Slaughtered Lamb...the place has Watney's Red Barrel...I thought that disappeared in the 70's in a Monty Python sketch.

I agree on the poor state of faux british/oirish pubs here.
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Old Posted Dec 20, 2012, 6:42 PM
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It's a Festivus Miracle!

some progress at last
Quote:
Somerset House due for reconstruction after city, owner, settle lawsuits


By David Reevely, Ottawa Citizen December 19, 2012

OTTAWA — Legal fighting over the wreck of Somerset House in downtown Ottawa is over and its owner can start rebuilding, downtown Coun. Diane Holmes said Wednesday.

The city and Tony Shahrasebi have been locked in battle almost since a construction accident knocked out a key support in 2007. The 19th century heritage building at the corner of Bank and Somerset streets has been boarded up and supplied with a steel exoskeleton to make sure it didn’t collapse completely while the two sides argued over whether the building was salvageable, who was responsible for the costs of closing the intersection and keeping the public away until the remains were stabilized, and who had to pay what for the ongoing diversion of the sidewalk along Somerset.

At Wednesday’s city council meeting, though, Holmes offered up terms of a settlement with Shahrasebi’s company, TKS Holdings, that’s supposed to end the battle and free the site up for reconstruction. TKS Holdings pays the city $650,000 to cover its costs and drops a $5-million countersuit; as a show of good faith, the city stops charging the company for encroaching on the sidewalk.

Holmes’s motion, which city council endorsed unanimously, says the 2007 renovation was unauthorized and began without a proper building permit.

Shahrasebi owns several small businesses; the Citizen left a message with a worker at his Minute Car Wash and at what’s believed to be his home at Nepean but couldn’t reach him. He’s leaving town on vacation and can be difficult to contact, his employee said.

“We have reached a decision, an agreement with the owner, that he will go ahead and fix the building that is partly demolished and return it to a heritage state,” Holmes said. “He is very good at redoing heritage buildings; he’s done the building just to the east of this site, put a lot of money in, he takes the buildings right down to the walls and does a really great renovation.”

Somerset House has two parts — the older, more historic building on Bank Street, formerly home to the Ritz Hotel and the Lockmaster and Duke of Somerset pubs, and a newer section behind it on Somerset Street that suffered the construction accident. Holmes said she understands the plan is to rebuild the new section so its floors, formerly at different levels from the ones in the older section, line up.

“He won’t have problems getting tenants,” Holmes said. Bank and Somerset is a prime retail location downtown, she said, and the derelict building has a lot of potential.

The renovation is still just an idea, even if Shahrasebi is serious about it. The city’s hasn’t approved any particular plan or issued any permits, and the reconstruction may need special consideration under heritage-preservation rules.

dreevely@ottawacitizen.com">dreevely@ottawacitizen.com

ottawacitizen.com/greaterottawa
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/So...#ixzz2FcRE5xoP
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  #5  
Old Posted Dec 20, 2012, 8:42 PM
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“He is very good at redoing heritage buildings; he’s done the building just to the east of this site, put a lot of money in, he takes the buildings right down to the walls and does a really great renovation.”

I can't believe that this sentence is attributed to Councillor Holmes.....it just doesn't resonate with me as something positive that she would say about somebody in a 'for profit' industry.

Last edited by Proof Sheet; Dec 20, 2012 at 11:48 PM.
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  #6  
Old Posted Dec 21, 2012, 5:47 AM
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Quote:
It's a Festivus Miracle!
lol

Can't wait to take this off the list of Ottawa eyesores
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  #7  
Old Posted Dec 21, 2012, 3:24 PM
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OK, I know that I'm a bit of a broken record but, seems to me that the Charles Ogilvy building is in way better shape.

That being said, I'm glad this thing is over. Who would have though both side dropping there law suits would have solved the issue? Oh right... EVERYONE!!!
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  #8  
Old Posted Oct 9, 2013, 3:13 AM
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Six years after renovation halted by accident, Somerset House plans back on track

By David Reevely, OTTAWA CITIZEN October 8, 2013 7:01 PM


OTTAWA — Six years after Somerset House downtown was destabilized by a careless worker in a skid steer, plans are ready for restoring the historic building.

The structure at Somerset and Bank streets was under renovation in 2007 when a construction worker knocked out a key support, putting an end to work inside the building and closing the nearby intersection for months while engineers worked out how to brace the structure so it wouldn’t collapse on passersby. What followed was a legal battle between the city and owner Tony Shahrasebi over who was responsible for all the costs, a fight that was only settled last winter with Shahrasebi’s agreeing to pay hundreds of thousands in policing and firefighting costs but the city’s dropping a claim for other expenses and Shahrasebi’s ending a countersuit.

New plans by architect Derek Crain are the result: a restoration of the older part of the building right on Bank Street, and a modernization of the newer section along Somerset, which has been braced in steel and covered in tarps for years. Both parts were previously about the same height but the older section had three tall floors and the newer section squeezed in four. The plan is to replace the upper section of the new part of the building with a dark glass box to take it up to its original height and largely replace all the innards with a new interior built to modern standards.

The city’s heritage experts pronounce themselves pleased with the planned building, in a report to the city’s committee on historic buildings: “It is contemporary in design, modest in proportion and with the restored façade will make a positive contribution to the character of Bank Street,” the report says.

The two nearby merchants’ associations and Coun. Diane Holmes, who represents the area, are also satisfied, the report says.

The heritage committee debates the proposal at a meeting on Thursday. City council’s planning committee and the full council get to vote on it after that.

dreevely@ottawacitizen.com

ottawacitizen.com/greaterottawa
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/life/So...012/story.html
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  #9  
Old Posted Oct 9, 2013, 3:16 AM
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from the Ottawa Sun
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  #10  
Old Posted Oct 11, 2013, 3:54 AM
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Beautiful....but what's with the gloomy skies?
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Old Posted Oct 11, 2013, 1:12 PM
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Beautiful....but what's with the gloomy skies?
Or the improbable shadows. Unless you move this building to the southern hemisphere, you'd never get sunlight on its north facade like that.
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Old Posted Oct 11, 2013, 1:23 PM
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At least one heritage building in Ottawa is eing saved....
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Old Posted Oct 11, 2013, 4:51 PM
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Two! The heritage committee voted to put a heritage designation on St-Charles. Only the interior can be altered!

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/life/Hi...914/story.html
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Old Posted Nov 6, 2013, 2:15 PM
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from the Ottawa Sun
I'm guessing whomever they contracted out for the render heard Somerset House and thought it was in the UK? Because that's a Royal Mail van in front of it.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Fi...rd_Transit.jpg

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Old Posted Nov 6, 2013, 2:43 PM
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that explains the cloudy skies :p
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Old Posted Nov 8, 2013, 4:45 AM
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I went by here last week and it looked like one of the upper floor windows fronting Bank was buckled outwards. I hope that wall is stable like they insist it is.
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Old Posted Aug 27, 2014, 5:30 PM
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'Fed up' Watson wants action on half-demolished Somerset House

Matthew Pearson, Ottawa Citizen
Published on: August 27, 2014, Last Updated: August 27, 2014 1:00 PM EDT


A tough-talking Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson is ramping up pressure on the owner of Somerset House to fix up the dilapidated heritage building at the corner of Somerset and Bank streets.

The three-storey building, which is owed by TKS Holdings Inc., has sat empty for years and been wrapped by hoarding on one side ever since a partial collapse in 2007. The city later took the owner Tony Shahrasebi to court and was awarded costs in that action.

“He needs to understand that having this eyesore in the central core of the nation’s capital is not acceptable,” Watson said Wednesday.

Council has given Shahrasebi a break on encroachment fees — in anticipation of work commencing, first in 2012 and again this year — at an estimated cost of approximately $20,00o per year. Yet despite promises, there’s been no action, Watson said.

“There’s a million excuses and nothing ever gets done, so I think he now knows we’re serious. I’m fed up.”

Watson has asked city staff to provide council with an update on what permits TKS has applied for and been issued for the site, as well as the total value of encroachment fees waived to date.

He also wants to know what options the city has for increasing those encroachment fees “until he shows good faith and gets that building back in proper working order.”

The mayor told reporters he had a tense telephone call with Shahrasebi recently.

“From time to time, I get on the phone with some of these landlords and give them a bit of a blast,” Watson said.

Somerset Coun. Diane Holmes echoed the mayor’s demand for action.

“That’s a very important building that he want him to move forward on,” she said.

mpearson@ottawacitizen.com
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http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-...somerset-house
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Old Posted Oct 1, 2014, 5:42 PM
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Watson ups ante in fight with Somerset House owner

Matthew Pearson, Ottawa Citizen
Published on: October 1, 2014, Last Updated: October 1, 2014 12:40 PM EDT


The city’s goodwill toward the owner of a dilapidated building at the corner of Bank and Somerset streets appears to be running out.

As he pledged to do last month, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson will ask the finance committee next week to stop waiving encroachment fees for TKS Holdings, which owns Somerset House.

The company has already been spared more than $43,000 for putting up hoarding on the city-owned sidewalk in front of 352 Somerset St. West. The three-storey building suffered a partial collapse seven years ago that forced the city to brace and stabilize it.

The building has remained in that condition ever since, while the city and TKS fought in court (the city was awarded costs in that action).

Council has twice approved the suspension of encroachment fees at the property in anticipation of work commencing, yet nothing has been done at the site, despite promises from TKS’ owner Tony Shahrasebi that reconstruction efforts are imminent.

Watson wants the finance committee to terminate the encroachment fee waiver immediately and also pressure the province to give municipalities “sufficient legislative authority” to ensure that owners of heritage properties redevelop and preserve heritage buildings in a timely manner.

If the committee agrees, council will have the final say on Oct. 8.

Jeff Morrison, a candidate in Somerset ward, has been calling on Shahrasebi to come forward with a firm plan and timeline to redevelop the property.

Although Somerset House belongs to Shahrasebi, Morrison says it is also “at the heart of Centretown, and as such, the thousands of residents who live in the area have a personal stake in its future.”

mpearson@ottawacitizen.com
Twitter.com/mpearson78

http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-...et-house-owner
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Old Posted Oct 7, 2014, 10:51 PM
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Came across an interesting article from Ottawa Community News today (from 1 month ago). Some interesting information from the article:

Quote:
Last week, after the mayor publically criticized Shahrasebi for failing to meet his commitment to tidy up the site, the building's owner said politicians have a lack of understanding about running a business.

"The mayors and politicians come and go. I own a lot of property in this city. I am not going anywhere," he said.

Last spring, Shahrasebi was set to ink a tenancy agreement with a pharmacy after two years and $200,000 spent negotiating.

When that deal fell through, the project was put on ice as Shahrasebi worked on two other redevelopments: the former Salvation Army building on Gladstone Avenue and the renovation of a former garage into a new burger joint, the Bacon Factory, on O'Connor Street.

Opening that restaurant has given new motivation to the Somerset House project, said Shahrasebi, who is now keen on opening his own restaurant honouring the heritage of the Somerset House.

He would likely call the eatery the Duke of Somerset, after a popular historic pub that used to occupy the building.

"For Somerset (House) I don't have any tenant(s), but I am getting to the point since now I have gotten into the restaurant business, now I have a lot of chefs and managers around. So I think we can do something ourselves," he said. "Therefore, we are going to be our own tenant. We are not going to rent it to anybody."

Another option he is working on is a "market mall," which would include space for around eight individual vendors in a "funky, European style" indoor market, Shahrasebi said.
The "market mall" is an interesting idea, though the one in the Byward Market failed in the 80s/90s and was replaced by radio/television studios for CTV2 et al.

The Duke pub is super underwhelming.

I may have mentioned this before, but I'd rather see a CB2 or West Elm furniture store go in there - the CB2 location in Toronto is in similar heritage-style building. And we are sorely lacking on decent furniture stores in this city.


[Source, CB2 Toronto]


[Source, West Elm, Melbourne]

* Not that I'm suggesting painting the building black...
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Old Posted Oct 8, 2014, 12:58 AM
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Finance committee ends 'free ride' for Somerset House owner

Joanne Chianello, Ottawa Citizen
Published on: October 7, 2014, Last Updated: October 7, 2014 6:45 PM EDT


Somerset House won’t be getting a “free ride” from the city any longer after council’s finance and economic development committee voted to stop waiving city fees for the derelict building.

Council has twice approved the suspension of $43,000 worth of encroachment fees at the property in anticipation of work on the historic Centretown building, yet nothing has been done at the site despite promises from TKS Holdings Inc. that reconstruction efforts are imminent.

It’s been seven years this month that Somerset House partially collapsed, and two years since the courts awarded the city $543,000 for emergency-related expenses and legal costs after a messy legal battle between the city and TKS owner Tony Shahrasebi. But last November, after council approved the restoration of the 1896 red-brick building at the corner of Bank and Somerset streets, it appeared the building would be restored to its original glory.

“We’ve had months and months, if not years, of promises and nothing is happening on this site,” Mayor Jim Watson told reporters after the committee meeting. “Some of the windows have been shot out, the back roof is completely gone and the public are fed up and I’m fed up. We’ve given this gentleman more than enough time and we gave him a break on encroachment fees to help him along. He hasn’t lived up to his end of the bargain.”

In the past, Shahrasebi has said he wasn’t able to lease the space ahead of time, and hence wasn’t able to pay to redevelop the building.

The committee also passed a motion directing the mayor to lobby the provincial government to give municipalities “sufficient legislative authority to ensure that heritage property owners redevelop and preserve heritage buildings in a timely manner.”

Watson said too often “an owner allows a building to deteriorate to the point where it just has to come down.” He said he actually doesn’t know what tools are available to the city to prevent “demolition-by-neglect,” nor what happens in other jurisdictions, which is why he moved to “at least start the dialogue with the province.”

http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/1008-somerset
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