Union du Canada Building
07 . 12 . 2013

Builder can demolish Union du Canada building, heritage panel rules

AUTHOR David Reevely
Claridge can tear down the old Union du Canada insurance building at 325 Dalhousie St. but only if it replaces it with a shorter hotel than it previously wanted to build, the city’s committee on heritage buildings decided Thursday.

The developer already has permission to renovate the 11-storey landmark on the edge of the ByWard Market and to add several floors to turn it into a hotel in concert with a condo project on the same block. But instead, facing an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board from neighbours irate about the height of the buildings, Claridge asked if it could demolish the office building instead. The ceilings are higher than a hotel needs, according to the company, and a new building could make a workable hotel 15 metres shorter than the original plan, topping out at 52.4 metres.

That’s still taller than the Union du Canada building, but only a little.

The city’s heritage planners don’t see great historic value in the concrete-and-glass structure; it’s distinctive, and designed by moderately famous architect Louis LaPierre, but it’s officially only of heritage interest because it’s in the Market. The planners were fine with the renovation and are equally fine with demolition.

But the group put conditions on Claridge’s plan: The company can tear the building down only to construct the shorter version of the hotel. It can’t mix-and-match plans, demolish the building and construct the taller replacement. Claridge vice-president Neil Malhotra agreed to the condition, saying the taller version is still on the table because the OMB appeal hasn’t been settled and it’s not yet clear whether the shorter hotel will head it off.

The condo project, which shares parking with the hotel, remains at 22 storeys.

City council’s planning committee and the full council both get to vote on the decision before it’s final.

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