Old home to come down
An effort by the city to save Downtown New Westminster’s oldest house was not successful.
The city’s planning staff has recommended a demolition permit be issued for 832 Royal Ave., which was built in 1887 and barely survived the 1898 fire that wiped out almost all of downtown.
Because of its historical value the building, which currently has 10 rental units, was placed on the city’s heritage register in 2004.
However, a townhouse project has been proposed to be built in the block. The city worked with Nu-Gen Projects to find a way to keep either the house on-site or move it somewhere else, “but none of the options were realistically workable for this site or agreeable to the applicant,” said a report by city heritage planner Julie Schueck.
The report said the cost of seismically upgrading the house would be high even if only the top portion was retained. Keeping the house would have meant losing about 10 parking spaces. If only the top was kept no spots would be lost, but two or three townhouse units would be.
Moving the entire house would be extremely difficult if not impossible, because of the way it tucks into the slope of Royal Avenue. Advertisements offering the house for free only resulted in two serious inquiries, and neither was successful.
“There is no doubt that the heritage value of this house is very high and the loss of it will be significant in terms of the city’s historic fabric and continuity,” wrote Schueck.
On Nov. 29, the city’s Community Heritage Commission decided “the realistic decision is to allow the demolition,” but it also recommended the historic wood windows, a piece of baseboard trim and any other historic artifacts be salvaged for the city’s museum and archives. Schueck also recommended council require an interpretative panel be designed and placed on the Royal Avenue edge of the property by the developer.