Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Owners Who Don't Give A Crap - Boyd Building

CBC pictures of Boyd Building LED billboard

What do you do about owners who never do what they say they are going to do and go ahead with stuff without even bothering to do it the legal way?

In 2009, the new owners of the Boyd Building made bold promises of renovations and a parkade in the old Merchant's Park space used by the Downtown Biz for entertaiment purposes until a buyer could be found.

Less than a year later the Downtown Biz felt burned.

The new ownership group, which includes lawyer Ken Carroll and Armik Babakhanians of Caspian Construction, also purchased the nearby Boyd Building -- a 97-year-old, nine-storey commercial tower -- and another property adjacent to the former park space.

After that, however, the space known as Merchants Park between Portage Avenue buildings -- once home to benches, art, paving stones and ashtrays for a public rest area and community gatherings -- became a makeshift parking lot following the owners' request that the BIZ remove the decorative amenities.

Grande said the BIZ gladly cleaned out the space because it thought construction was to occur. Then, he said, at least three large trees were pulled out of the lot -- by whom, the BIZ isn't certain -- and simply tossed in a nearby back lane.

The tree-dumping, Grande said, is as "mind-boggling" as the site's new use.

"We don't want more parking lots -- definitely not gravel parking lots," he said. "And cars are parked almost right up to the sidewalk. Everything we know about creating wonderful downtowns is contravened."

There is still no parkade there and I never heard any resolution to the issue of a surface parking lot.

Today the CBC reports that the Boyd Building owners have put up a LED sign on the side of the building as of October. I was curious as to when it got approved because there was no indication that it had gone before council.

Well, the answer to that question is that it never did go before council.

CBC News has learned the sign, installed on the 98-year-old Portage Avenue building in October, was put up illegally.

The city's historical buildings committee declined a request by the Boyd building's owner to erect the sign, and Coun. Harvey Smith said city inspectors have told the owners to get the sign approved.

"It has to go to the standing committee [on property and development], and I will appear there and oppose it," Smith said. "So, it's a good chance, you know, that we can put an end to this."

The sign is indeed bright and residents have been complaining about it even a full block away or more. It certainly draws the eye upward even when driving.

Complaints about the sign brightness aside, the owners of the building don't seem to be keeping their promise on the parkade and don't seem to consult or seek permission from council for what they do. What was done was illegal and shows the owners either didn't give a crap or figured council would cave on giving permission.

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cherenkov said...

There has got to be some kind of hammer the city can use to straighten these guys out.

mrchristian said...

Wow, that's pretty ballsy. The sign is atrocious. Okay maybe for a stadium or public square but not for a roadway.

One Man Committee said...

Personally, I wish the City would do away with the red tape that prevents signage from being erected (provided that it meets certain standards and doesn't end up blinding people living a block away - can't they turn down the brightness at night?).

But that said, rules are rules and they're useless if the City won't raise a finger to enforce them. The illegal parking lot is even more detrimental but the City hasn't done anything about it to my knowledge.

John Dobbin said...

I have no problem with creating some rules for signage and cutting red tape.

However, in this case the owners apparently don't think they need any approval or are bound by any rules.

Time for council to show some backbone. I wonder if they have it.

It has been a dismal few days. Bulldoze, walk-on votes and huge spending.