I would echo the feelings of many on how these individuals operate - I also understand that a big part of the problem is that the Vranichs own so many properties and can only do so much at once... which is detrimental to all the properties that sit vacant. They can also afford to leave something an illegal parking lot for years and go ahead with whatever opportunity in whatever location can get done at the moment with the biggest paycheck.
This is why we're not seeing any movement on certain properties at all because they're waiting for other things to get into place -- they own too many properties to make sure that anything is done in a timely manner. They will come out ahead in the end from owning so many properties, but it's not good for the city to have so many properties owned by the same people and have them move so slowly.
I can understand that at least they're doing something
as opposed to owners who do absolutely nothing with every property they own - some of the projects that did get done, like those houses turned into commercial on the south-east corner of Queen/Main, are good inside and out - and the full brick restoration on the easternmost building impressed me quite a bit. Unfortunately, it will be years until anything is done on the majority of properties they own, and it will be all based on what's most profitable at the time.
For example, I heard one rumour that the derelict apartment building on King they own will get turned into the planned movie theatre, but they're basing that on a revenue stream from the Dundurn Lofts project (a property they now own) getting off the ground first and providing the money to do the next thing. I'm very skeptical on ever seeing those lofts get anywhere, but if there's an impetus to get that project done in order to enable a more profitable one like that movie theatre property, perhaps it will happen... one day - just as if the hotel project is now profitable it may have the go-ahead this year too.
On one hand, I understand that, as a businessperson, you have to put profit first and they have no greater obligation to better the city. If that's their character, that's their character. On the other hand, the city suffers from it, and (especially when it's an illegal use of property), that shouldn't be acceptable or tolerated. What the solution is there... who knows?
Originally Posted by Jon Dalton
... a policy that everyone knows about prior to buying and makes their business decisions accordingly. Downtown can't be the playground of out of town speculators and currently there is little to prevent it.
I couldn't agree more. It likely couldn't be retroactive, but there should be something in place. I'm sure there's examples of other municipalities that have taken measures/put in policies that we could go from.