Sticker shock: City Hall spending up to $1.6M on this house
LONDON, ONT. -- London’s red hot housing market has little to do with the amount of money municipal taxpayers will spend saving a house from the wrecking ball.
Costs could reach $1.6 million to relocate 100 Stanley St., according to a new report by city engineers.
After years at the centre of a high-profile expropriation fight, City Hall purchased the yellow-brick home from Nan Finlayson last year to accommodate the widening of Wharncliffe Road north of Springbank Drive.
Rather than demolish the small heritage-designated house, city engineers intend to relocate it as recommended in the project’s environmental assessment report.
But the estimated cost has recently doubled.
“The property is vacant, and we’ve had an opportunity to have our experts get in and take a closer look at the condition of the building,” explains Garfield Dales, division manager of Transportation and Design.
A detailed assessment of the building by professional house movers determined the relocation will be more difficult than originally thought.
It’s now estimated to cost between $900,000 and $1.1 million to move a house that was purchased for $500,000.
“We’re really paying a lot of money for one property,” says Councillor Phil Squire, who recalls city engineers propose moving the house last term.
Squire questions the value of spending up to $1.6 million.
“There are some heritage assets that are of value to the entire city, and the city should step up and support those. I’m not sure this is one of those cases,” he adds.
“It’s not surprising that the price tag has gone up,” asserts Derek Dudek, chair of the London Advisory Committee on Heritage (LACH). “What we’re talking about is preserving the character of that kind of neighbourhood, it's good money spent in terms of the overall project.”
The house is considered an excellent example of a Queen Anne-style home.
The house will be moved less than 100 metres - across Wharncliffe Road to a municipally-owned lot at the corner of Evergreen Avenue.
“Is this amount of money appropriate to move one home across the street where it may not have the same heritage value that it had before?” asks Squire.
Dales says civic administration will not be seeking additional funding for the relocation.
“Our approach right now, would be to manage those costs within the overall (widening) project budget,” he explains.
The construction budget for widening Wharncliffe Road is pegged at $38.9 million, including a contingency fund that can accommodate the higher relocation cost.
“If it gets much higher, maybe it's a situation where we need to look at possible alternatives moving forward,” admits Dudek. “But at the current price, I think its a fair return for the neighbourhood.”
A report outlining the revised cost to move 100 Stanley St. goes before council’s Civic Works Committee on March 2.