Sold for $30M: County warden defends sale of historic courthouse to developer
LONDON, ONT. -- Middlesex County Warden Cathy Burghardt-Jesson is making no apologies for selling the much revered historic courthouse building at the Forks of the Thames to a private developer.
The deal with York Developments, which includes the health unit property next door, was finalized Monday with a price tag of $30 million.
Critics have charged the county put profit over heritage protection by selling the properties to “the highest bidder.”
But Burghardt-Jesson says the price was just one of many factors.
“It wasn't just the highest bid, not at all. There was a score sheet. We followed that. And there was a component in that score with regard to heritage."
A news release from Middlesex County states redevelopment of the health unit property at 50 King Street can now go ahead.
As for 399 Ridout Street, the county has an agreement to maintain its administration offices inside the former courthouse building until Dec. 2024.
Burghardt-Jesson says constituents will be better served in the long run.
“That's where some people can say is the birth of Middlesex. But we're not out with our residents, and we're looking at how we can deliver our services. And that is being out in the Lucan-Biddulphs, in the Strathroy-Caradocs."
The historic castle-building falls under various heritage protections. York Developments has said it will keep the building intact, and develop the property around it.
Burghart-Jesson said she expects the company and its president, Ali Soufan, to remain true to their word.
“He has shown with work that he's done throughout the community that he does respect properties that are historical in nature.”
While Monday marks the end of the conditional period to finalize the sale, the keys will change hands in April when the sale officially closes.