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Domino Destruction

New information prompts council to allow demolition of building connected to former Mayfair Hotel

Kitchener – New information, including a substantial new structural concern for the former Mayfair Hotel, that has come to light during inspections of an adjacent, connected building intended to be preserved, has prompted council to remove a second Notice of Intention to Designate that will now allow both buildings to be demolished.

At its May 11 meeting, council withdrew the Notice of Intention to Designate 156-158 King Street West – the former Hymmen Hardware building – to allow the immediate and concurrent demolition of the building, along with the former Mayfair Hotel building. Council removed the Notice of Intention to Designate the former Mayfair Hotel at its April 23 council meeting due to substantial public and worker safety concerns related to the building’s deteriorated structural integrity.

“It saddens me that we’re at this point,” said Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. “However, we simply cannot afford to take chances with public safety. In light of the new information regarding the significant structural damage to 11 Young St. it is clear, based on the professional advice given to council, that delaying the demolition of the former Mayfair Hotel poses too great a risk.”

Seiling presented the new information to Heritage Kitchener earlier today who put forward a motion to defer the removal of the intention to designate pending a review by a heritage expert. A similar motion by Coun. Etherington asking for a deferral to May 25 also failed.

New information

According to a staff report, new information came to light in recent days through inspections of the former Hymmen Hardware building – which shares a common wall with the former Mayfair Hotel – that confirms a greater degree of interconnection between it and the former Mayfair building than was previously known.

Additionally during the inspections, a new substantial structural issue was discovered that strongly confirms that the former Mayfair Hotel is more unstable and unsafe than the city was originally aware of at the April 23 council meeting, and it requires immediate demolition.

The inspections, by city building staff and independent engineers hired by both the city and the building owner, were part of the efforts to prepare the former Hymmen Hardware building to be shored (stabilized) so that it could withstand the demolition of the former Mayfair Hotel.

Three independent engineers – one retained by the city – have also confirmed that the stabilization, or shoring, of the former Hymmen Hardware building would delay the demolition of the former Mayfair Hotel by four to seven weeks.

“That will leave both buildings vulnerable to an unplanned collapse,” said Mike Seiling, the city’s chief building official (CBO). “It’s a matter of public and building safety and that kind of timeframe just isn’t acceptable. The buildings need to come down together as soon as possible.”

Unsafe Order issued on 156-158 King Street West

Earlier in the day, the city’s chief building official issued an Order to Remedy Unsafe Condition and an Order Prohibiting Occupancy on the former Hymmen Hardware building. The Remedy Unsafe Condition Order requires the immediate and concurrent demolition of the 156-158 King Street West building along with the former Mayfair Hotel, located at 11 Young Street.

Seiling told council that based on an expert recommendation from the City’s structural engineer – MTE Consultants – he concluded that, due to ongoing and new public safety concerns with the former Mayfair Hotel building, there is not sufficient time to complete the shoring work on 156-158 King Street West to avoid an unplanned collapse of 11 Young Street and through the shared common wall, a collapse of 156-158 King Street West. As a result, the CBO has concluded both buildings must come down together and as soon as possible.

As the Order from the CBO requires that the former Hymmen Hardware building be demolished concurrently with the former Mayfair Hotel property, the Notice of Intention to Designate the property under the Ontario Heritage Act was required to be withdrawn by council so that the demolition permit can be issued.

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