Monday, August 16, 2010

Academy Manor

Academy Manor Free Press picture

Rooftop deck of Academy Manor

Academy Manor.

Prior to the construction of the 14 unit condo at 85 Academy Road stood a few houses just west of the Lutheran church. Number 75 and 87 Academy Road were like a number of houses on the north side facing Kelvin High School and St. Mary's Academy that were not nearly as posh as the ones behind them on Wellington Crescent. In fact, many of the houses were falling apart and some were soon regarded as undesirable. Eventually, the two houses above became derelict.

It was a concern to me that this might be an early indication of how River Heights might look if houses continued to fall into disrepair to the detriment of the neighbourhood as a whole. It wasn't an idle thought. Many neighbourhoods in the city have declined as residents have found other areas the flavour of the times. River Heights itself benefited from that migration as people moved from the Osborne Village, the West End, the North End and other places.

It was not beyond the possibility that River Heights and Crescentwood was seeing a decline that would slowly spread out beyond Academy Road. In recent years, however, that fear has subsided. Renovations seem to mark every street throughout River Heights and Crescentwood. Wellington Crescent has seen completion demolitions and new house construction. Some of those houses have not been without controversy. In fact, some of the houses such as the one where Izzy Asper's house was torn down are large for any type of neighbourhood you might have put it in. Thankfully, not every one of the new or renovated houses tosses aside the scale or the aesthetic of what is locally known as The Crescent.

Elsewhere in River Heights and Crecentwood have been renovations top to bottom in terms of revitalizing the housing stock and the character of a single family residence has been mostly maintained for the neighbourhood maintained.

Academy Road continues to have a few dozen homes from the Maryland and Sherbook bridges to Kenaston. Because of the traffic along the road, it has been harder to maintain the attractiveness for families living along it, especially closer to the bridge. The houses from Kelvin High School to the corner of Wellington and Academy have suffered over the years as mentioned.

This certainly had to be noticed by city council so when businessman Prakash Gowder bought 75 and 87 Academy Road and proposed a condo project, they likely jumped on it.

After years of work, controversy and lawsuits, the condo is being marketed to the public. The size of the project is what will strike people as the drive past. The units range from 1000 to 1000 square feet and the structure is four stories tall. I'm certain some of the people on Wellington Crescent must have dubious feelings about a property that looks down on them. Still, the alternative might have been a derelict house torn down and a empty field looking back on to Academy.

The prices of the condos are $400,000 to $1.5 million. It will be interesting to see if this will be attractive to buyers looking for unique properties in River Heights.

Expect to see some other houses along Academy if this project finds success.

I am not overly offended by the design but the possibility is that houses on the south-side of Wellington Crescent may also convert to condos as a response would not surprise. It is something to think about when the scale of condo projects gives pause to those buying houses close by.

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