Heritage status an issue for potential McCormick investors?
City officials are looking for buyersto redevelop the long-vacant Beta Brand McCormick site in east London, but having the building’s heritage status in limbo could be a problem.
Vacant for five years, the former McCormick building has attracted vandalism and drug use and become eyesore in the neighbourhood.
Now the city has finally released a request for expressions of interest, seeking a buyer interested in redeveloping the property, something Councillor Stephen Orser has been pressing for.
“We are going to move quick. Get the shovels in the ground, a crane up, and get going.”
But it likely won’t be that simple. The current request for interest is for the adaptive reuse of the existing building.
At a meeting on Nov. 11, 2009, the London Advisory Committee on Heritage asked council to designate the factory a heritage building to protect it from demolition.
But the idea was shelved by council leaving the building’s status in limbo.
Joe O’Neil was a member of the London Advisory Committee on Heritage in 2009 when the recommendation to preserve the exterior front part of the building went forward to council.
He says “We made a decision to preserve the front and that fancy overhang…The fear was among council and staff that putting a heritage designation on it before a buyer came along would scare off the buyer.”
But while the heritage value of the building, which turns 100 next year, isn't lost on neighbours others are ready to move on.
Orser says “I would rather call in the military, hit this things with an air strike and get it demolished. Get this over with. If people come forward with heritage value they better bring a cheque.”
Interested parties have until July 4th to submit proposals to city hall and council is expected to pave the way for redevelopment when a final plan for the site by Aug. 27th.