City council has approved a $300-million development proposal that will significantly change the skyline in the downtown core.
Tuesday’s decision means a row of Victorian-style townhouses on Talbot Street known as Camden Terrace will be demolished to pave the way for three residential towers.
Rygar Properties Inc. proposal calls for the construction of a nine-storey building, a 29 storey building and a 38-storey building, which would be the largest building between Mississauga and Calgary.
Last week, members of London’s planning and environment committee endorsed a move to send the proposal back to staff for more study, but council rejected the referral by a vote of 12-2 Tuesday night.
Councillors Anna Hopkins and Stephen Turner voted against the mega project. Councillor Jesse Helmer inadvertently cast his vote in favour of the plan, but also supported the referral.
“I understand it’s difficult when we see our heritage buildings, like Camden Terrace, in disrepair and demolition is required through neglect,” said Hopkins. “We the City are not able to do anything other than we know we need to protect our heritage. What are we, as a council, doing about it other than realizing we need to work harder to protect heritage.”
In an effort to appease heritage activists, Rygar worked with city staff on a design that would see the facades of the homes rebuilt, brick-by-brick, and preserved as part of the lobby of the building that connects the two residential towers.
“I think what we see in this proposal is a fine quality design that has done its best to incorporate what is, what we are able to salvage out of those properties there,” said councillor Tanya Park. “I understand that there’s individuals that think the commemorative piece is tokenism, and I can’t take that thought out of their head, and I think that, like I said, that’s the best foot forward for this application.”
The 700 unit project is expected to bring in $5-million in property taxes annually once it’s built.
It would also generate $10-million in development charges for the city, however those will be covered by the taxpayer and not Rygar.