Comment 64099

By Mogadon Megalodon (anonymous) | Posted May 27, 2011 at 14:45:18

March 17 2001

“A single block and a half stretch of James Street from just south of King Street is a study in how desperate the problem has become.

Walking south from the gleaming glass of the CIBC tower, the first building you come to is the former Royal Bank Building. Its owner, also Yale Properties, caused a furor last year when it announced plans to demolish the six-storey structure due to lack of tenants. Today, the building sits empty awaiting its fate.

Thirty paces farther up the street is the Pigott Building, the city's first skyscraper. When it was converted to condominiums in the mid-90s, it was considered a triumph of urban renewal.

But the separately owned commercial space on the first and second floors hasn't been such a success.

David and Sandra Gowans of Burlington picked that up in 1997 when the previous owners couldn't pay their debts. The Gowans set up shop with a business school, hairdressing academy and a restaurant. But they, too, ran into trouble and defaulted on their mortgage payments. The Bank of Commerce put the 15,000 square feet of space back on the market for $499,000 last year and then dropped that to $399,000. (A sale will not affect the residential condominiums above.)….

All of this is no surprise to David Blanchard, a broker with Blair Blanchard Stapleton Limited. Blanchard, who has an interest in a number of downtown properties, was in the headlines in 1999 when he tore down the former Canada Permanent building across the street from the Pigott Building. That prompted city council to pass a bylaw prohibiting developers who demolish old structures from opening parking lots in their place.”

Since the mid-60s, the block has also lost the National Trust (11-15 Main St E) just east of the Landed, as well as the rest of the streetwall at 17 and 21 Main East (Turner Building) that connected to the Union Gas Building at Main and Hughson.

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