A structural condition assessment of the former Electrohome building at 152 Shanley Street has concluded that the building is in poor condition and significant structural deterioration has occurred. The building is unsound and is at significant risk of collapse if exposed to another winter without substantial repair. As a result, Kitchener’s Chief Building Official has issued a Remedy Unsafe Building Order, requiring the owner of the property to take action immediately to remedy the unsafe conditions.
Two city building inspectors and an independent engineer from Tacoma Engineers Inc. with designation from the Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals (CAHP) gained access to the building to conduct an inspection of the property on Tuesday, April 23 after insufficient action from the property owner to respond to a previous Order issued in January 2019 requiring a complete structural assessment of the building. That order was issued in response to bricks and debris observed falling from the building.
“The engineer’s report concluded that the building should be considered unsafe for access, and that immediate action is required to either repair the building to a safe condition, or to begin planning for demolition. The report validates what staff observed during the inspection in April; that openings in the roof have led to extensive water damage that has affected the building’s structural integrity,” said Mike Seiling, Kitchener’s Chief Building Official.
The Remedy Unsafe Building Order issued today requires the building’s owner to take immediate steps to address these structural issues. While there is no immediate risk of collapse, work must begin immediately to remedy the unsafe condition. The order requires remediation work to begin by the end of the month, and sets out firm timelines the property owner must meet in repairing the building. If the milestones are not met on time, through the Chief Building Official, the city has the authority to force action to remedy the unsafe conditions itself.
152 Shanley Street is privately owned, giving the city limited powers in terms of regular inspections, despite ongoing concerns from neighbours regarding lack of upkeep and safety of the site.
“Unfortunately, the property owner was not responsive to multiple requests from our inspectors to allow entry into the building over the past several years. Until the bricks began to fall from the building, indicating structural concerns, the city had no legal authority to enter the building,” said Seiling.
Built in 1887, 152 Shanley Street is a four storey late 19th century brick building, built in the Berlin Vernacular Industrial architectural style. While it is considered a property of heritage value, it is not currently listed or designated as a heritage property. In addition to the significant structural concerns with the building, the land beneath the building requires extensive environmental remediation to deal with on-site contamination. Further, the property has been the subject of two tax sales in an effort to recoup $1.2 million in arrears owed to the city. A 2017 tax sale was unsuccessful; in 2018 the city held a charrette with neighbours to help envision and set direction for a desired future for the property.
In January 2019, during a second attempt at a Tax Sale, the property owner paid $445,000 in back taxes to the city, forcing the cancellation of the tax sale and retaining ownership of the property. Additional information about the history of the property and updates on the current status of the Remedy Unsafe Building Order can be found at kitchener.ca/152shanley.