Resale profits already included in million dollar cost to move small house
LONDON, ONT. -- There may be no escape from the money-pit faced by taxpayers at 100 Stanley Street.
In February, city engineers admitted the cost to relocate the small heritage-designated house across the street had doubled to between $900,000 and $1.1 million.
A new memo to city council reveals that selling the house at its new address on Evergreen Avenue will not further offset the seven-figure moving cost.
City Engineer Kelly Scherr writes, “This estimate ($900,000 to $1.1 million) includes the estimated revenue from the sale of the relocated building.”
The environmental assessment for the widening of Wharncliffe Road north of Horton requires the heritage-designated house be moved across the road.
Not recouping more of the seven-figure relocation when the house is sold is a disappointment to Chair of the Civic Works Committee Elizabeth Peloza.
“This is an inflated number from what we were already expecting,” says Councillor Peloza. “Staff said that number can be firmed up as we move on. A lot of these are utility-related costs.”
Heritage advocates who fought to save the house find the estimates hard to swallow.
“I’m boggled, I’m speechless,” says President of the London Chapter of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario Kelley McKeating.
McKeating questions how relocating a small house across the street could cost seven figures.
“I am skeptical of the accuracy of the cost estimates that are being floated out there.”
In 2020, the city purchased the property for $500,000 from Nan Finlayson, ending her high-profile battle to stay in her heritage home.
Scherr’s memo explains that the higher than expected cost to move the yellow-brick house is related to utility relocation.
Those costs will be further refined.
If council instead seeks a demolition permit, it could take a year to amend the environmental assessment.
The delay could add 2-3 percent inflation to the $38 million road-widening project— with no guarantee the province would grant the change.
“The certainty-of-cost to move the house and have the project move forward is $900,000 to $1.1 million, if we wait a year it’s going to be potentially double that.” warns Peloza.
The original cost estimate to relocate the house was half-a-million dollars.
Staring down a seven figure price tag and with one less option to offset those costs, Peloza says council will decide how to move forward on Tuesday.
“I don’t want to spend any of this money either. I recognize its taxpayer money, and it’s not looking like the best use of it.”