City OKs plan to turn Telford into suites

After being vacant for nine years, the Telford Block could soon return to life. But not everyone is happy to see the three-storey building at the corner of Royal Avenue and 10th Street converted to rental units.

City council has approved a plan to convert the 1913 brick building to bachelor suites for rental to students and young people entering the workforce.

Residents of a neighbouring condo building have concerns.

Ash Dutta, strata president of Langro Manor on 10th Street, presented a petition with signatures of 33 owners in his complex objecting to the plan.

The Telford has no parking, and Dutta said residents worry there’s no guarantee the units would be rented to people without cars.

Dutta said neighbouring streets are already jammed with residential parking.

“The area can’t sustain six or 12 more cars needing parking,” said Dutta.

Herbert Chase, the project’s architect, told city council the building’s owner, Pastor Paul Reynolds of Emmanuel Pentacostal Church, had first intended to convert the Telford into six market condo units. To that end, he’d been working with the city to find a solution to its parking issues.

But research showed a shortage of bachelor suites in New West’s Downtown for students or people entering the workforce who commute to their job and don’t own a car. So Reynolds chose to convert the building to 10 bachelor suites plus an eleventh suite for the church as a parsonage who would also act as building manager.

“We were trying to find a way to save the building and come up with a long-term project that is financially feasible,” said Chase. “With the younger demographic there is a tendency to use public transit more, so it seems like a good fit.”

Chase said there would be secured lock-up to accommodate 14 bikes at the back of the building.

But Dutta said the rack would be a lure to thieves.

His underground parkade had thieves steal bikes and other items several times.

A plan to place garbage bins behind the Telford also didn’t win Dutta’s favour, who feared they would attract pests.

Chase said the bins are secured and would be stored in a recessed area, while the bikes would be behind a locked gate and six-foot high fence.

Dutta said if his building’s residents concerns are addressed, they’d be open to the rental plan.

Mayor Wayne Wright said he was confident Dutta and the owner of the Telford block could work out their differences, while Coun. Jonathan Coté praised the new proposal for bringing life back to a building that has been vacant for nine years.

The Telford was abandoned after it was heavily damaged by water after firefighters tried to save it from a blaze that destroyed a paint shop next door.



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