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General Urban Kitchener Updates and Rumours - Printable Version

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RE: General Urban Kitchener Updates and Rumours - MidTowner - 01-12-2016

(01-12-2016, 09:04 AM)ookpik Wrote: Or can this situation remain unresolved for another decade?

I bet it can, unfortunately. I agree with you that the City should undertake the remediation and add it to the current owner's liability. I've personally never seen anything resembling an estimate of the cost to remediate- it's always described in terms like "hefty," "significant," whatever- and it's a bit shameful that this has drawn on for so long. I personally think the City of Kitchener needs to get creative with this one, and undertake the remediation itself, and zone it in a way that would make it attractive to a potential buyer. The neighbourhood will likely not push back on redevelopment after suffering the toxic waste dump (you're right that that's exactly what was being done here for quite a while) for years.


RE: General Urban Kitchener Updates and Rumours - Markster - 01-12-2016

Yeah, with remediation being an unfixed, unknown number right now, any potential buyer is basically going to assume it's as bad as theoretically possible, and subtract that from the market value. Is that still over $1M? Maybe?

A few blocks away, the region paid $4.7M/ha just for land for the intermodal terminal.
This site is about 0.32 ha
That's ~$1.5M in land value, optimistically.


RE: General Urban Kitchener Updates and Rumours - Viewfromthe42 - 01-12-2016

Depending on how far you want to go between as-built re-use and complete demolition (knowing the latter to not really be an option or likely for this site), the remediation costs could change drastically. It's one thing to have to pull all the contaminant out of a structure or structure-covered ground that you're also removing, while another to fully preserve everything. So if the city were to remediate such that the structure remained unchanged, the remediation costs would be at their highest, but would eliminate many potential developers who may have wanted to partially preserve, partially modify the building, but would need that cheaper remediation to be reflected in the price, which the city would have already built the most expensive remediation into. I mean, I'd love it if in general, the utilities built (and priced) into brownfield non-remediation sites nearly precluded low-density options, but we know the general built profile for this site, and as a tricky one, we should leave as many possibilities open as we can.


RE: General Urban Kitchener Updates and Rumours - MidTowner - 01-12-2016

(01-12-2016, 10:57 AM)Viewfromthe42 Wrote: Depending on how far you want to go between as-built re-use and complete demolition (knowing the latter to not really be an option or likely for this site)...

Why do you think demolition is unlikely? As much as I admire the building, it seems that its history could easily make the cost of adaptive reuse prohibitively high. Why do you think it's not really an option to tear it down and replace it with something entirely new?


RE: General Urban Kitchener Updates and Rumours - Owen - 01-12-2016

(01-12-2016, 11:04 AM)MidTowner Wrote:
(01-12-2016, 10:57 AM)Viewfromthe42 Wrote: Depending on how far you want to go between as-built re-use and complete demolition (knowing the latter to not really be an option or likely for this site)...

Why do you think demolition is unlikely? As much as I admire the building, it seems that its history could easily make the cost of adaptive reuse prohibitively high. Why do you think it's not really an option to tear it down and replace it with something entirely new?

I have a hard time seeing that make sense - Brick & Beam is all the rage, and condos in converted factories will fetch quite a premium as well.   A simple count of floors and windows makes a rough guess of ~14 units per floor x4 floors (without going up higher) = 56 units.   So close to the transit hub and in an 'up and coming' neighborhood, these would easily sell for $250k+  ...  that's $14m.   Assume building costs on the units is $120/sf and a generous 1000 sf per unit = $6.7m - that leaves a pretty healthy margin for everything else involved, and that's not even accounting for going higher or building out onto the rest of the lot (current building doesn't even cover 50% of the lot if I recall correctly from the last time I checked it out)

My bet is that the developer who buys it gets commitment (in writing) ahead of time for govt to foot the bill for remediation - and I would hope it is provincial or federal - this is exactly the kind of thing Environment Canada should be helping out with: A long dissolved corporation made a mess - there's no one to sue, no one to foot the bill - it's in the public good to clean it up.   The developer gets it for the $1m, contributes a few million towards the cleanup, comes up with a proposal that utilizes the current building, incorporates the full lot, and goes higher - it could be a very attractive financial proposition - and great improvement to the neighborhood.  Not very different from the Mansion street lofts (which a live a few houses away from - no complaints there), but much better location relative to the transit hub.

If you don't buy-in to that happening, then I'm not sure what the alternative is...  I can't imagine the city getting away with anything other than townhouse condos - it's smack dab in the middle of a residential neighborhood and a tall building would see a lot of opposition (and likely constitute bad planning).   Converting the existing to Condos will almost definitely be the path to achieving the highest possible density with these lands.


RE: General Urban Kitchener Updates and Rumours - MidTowner - 01-12-2016

As to whether or not a tall (would six floors be tall? Not much taller than what’s there now) building would constitute bad planning I’m not sure. But I don’t see the neighbourhood opposition to it being too focused given the situation as it is now. Though I guess such opposition is often not logical, so maybe there would be people who would like to have their cake and eat it too, and would complain that the site is being redeveloped while simultaneously hoping for it to be cleaned up.

Thanks a lot for your analysis, and I can see how that would make sense. I’m not really positive if the neighbourhood is quite ‘up-and-coming’ enough for all that (still no plans for the school board building around the corner on Moore, for instance), but I’d be happy to be surprised.

I’m with you that some level of government should probably clean it up or share in the cost of cleaning it up. Again, I’ve never seen anything resembling a real estimate of the real remediation costs, but it’s been suggested to me that they would be “massive” (whatever that means). It’s gone up for sale before without any takers, so I think the City will need to try something different (chip in itself, or seek a commitment from a higher level of government) if we’re going to see anything happen here.


RE: General Urban Kitchener Updates and Rumours - Owen - 01-12-2016

(01-12-2016, 02:10 PM)MidTowner Wrote: As to whether or not a tall (would six floors be tall? Not much taller than what’s there now) building would constitute bad planning I’m not sure. But I don’t see the neighbourhood opposition to it being too focused given the situation as it is now. Though I guess such opposition is often not logical, so maybe there would be people who would like to have their cake and eat it too, and would complain that the site is being redeveloped while simultaneously hoping for it to be cleaned up.

Thanks a lot for your analysis, and I can see how that would make sense. I’m not really positive if the neighbourhood is quite ‘up-and-coming’ enough for all that (still no plans for the school board building around the corner on Moore, for instance), but I’d be happy to be surprised.

I’m with you that some level of government should probably clean it up or share in the cost of cleaning it up. Again, I’ve never seen anything resembling a real estimate of the real remediation costs, but it’s been suggested to me that they would be “massive” (whatever that means). It’s gone up for sale before without any takers, so I think the City will need to try something different (chip in itself, or seek a commitment from a higher level of government) if we’re going to see anything happen here.

<10 floors is mid-rise (tall building is 10 or more) ... you bring up a good point though, maybe something like the Walter st. development could fit here - but if they can manage to keep the existing it would certainly have a lot more charm (again, thinking of the Mansion st. Lofts). Those are really rough calculations - but it seems like something interesting could make sense. By 'up and coming' I simply meant relative proximity to all the excitment around the transit hub - IMO, locating some brick & beam office space mixed with Condos in a residential neighborhood, but still within a 10 min walk of the LRT and in proximity to all the other high-tech/startup action would be a pretty desirable mix for both residents and businesses (thinking startups).

Whatever goes in there, the name of the game is density. I find it funny how the comments on TheRecord.com are forever begrudging both development and property taxes, when the only solution to keeping taxes lower is development that increases density... lol.


RE: General Urban Kitchener Updates and Rumours - REnerd - 01-12-2016

I've heard that the existing building is collapsing on the inside as a result of basically not having a roof for many years.

Whoever buys it and develops it will then get sued by all the residential neighbors who had land damaged by this property.  Environmental liability is really high - I think $1 might be too much to pay!  Smile


RE: General Urban Kitchener Updates and Rumours - MidTowner - 01-12-2016

(01-12-2016, 02:40 PM)Owen Wrote: ...IMO, locating some brick & beam office space mixed with Condos in a residential neighborhood, but still within a 10 min walk of the LRT and in proximity to all the other high-tech/startup action would be a pretty desirable mix for both residents and businesses (thinking startups).

It would be wonderful if it could wind up mixed-use, either a mix of offices and residential or one or the other with some small commercial use on the ground floor.


RE: General Urban Kitchener Updates and Rumours - Owen - 01-12-2016

(01-12-2016, 02:58 PM)REnerd Wrote: I've heard that the existing building is collapsing on the inside as a result of basically not having a roof for many years.

Whoever buys it and develops it will then get sued by all the residential neighbors who had land damaged by this property.  Environmental liability is really high - I think $1 might be too much to pay!  Smile

I agree it's a mess, but I'm not entirely sure that just because you own a property you are liable for environmental damages from past owners.  My understanding is that the current owners bought it cheap from someone else (not knowing what they were getting into) and have nothing to do with the ones who originally made the mess.  Tort law is usually based on what's reasonable, and holding a current owner (who - let's say, purchased it for somewhere in the range of $500k to $1m) for multi-millions of dollars of environmental cleanup which they did not cause, is not entirely reasonable.  However, if the problem got worse because they didn't do something about it during the tenure of their ownership then they would be liable for that aspect of it.  Most reports on the 'toxic plume' beneath the factory say it is stable, so I'm guessing that's why they've just done nothing.

I wonder what 'collapsing' on the inside means...  I'm sure anything made of wood is destroyed, but I wonder to what extend stone/concrete/brick has been destroyed by freeze/thaw of water.  I would think that if nothing else the facade could easily be saved and build new on the inside like Bauer.


RE: General Urban Kitchener Updates and Rumours - Viewfromthe42 - 01-12-2016

(01-12-2016, 03:26 PM)Owen Wrote:
(01-12-2016, 02:58 PM)REnerd Wrote: I've heard that the existing building is collapsing on the inside as a result of basically not having a roof for many years.

I wonder what 'collapsing' on the inside means...  I'm sure anything made of wood is destroyed, but I wonder to what extend stone/concrete/brick has been destroyed by freeze/thaw of water.  I would think that if nothing else the facade could easily be saved and build new on the inside like Bauer.

...and Bauer may well have only been able/willing to preserve the façade due to the density they were allowed to place on that lot, going many, many stories above the preserved façade height.

If we were to have a neighbourhood that could not even see the main street or density node having zero opposition to, or even support of increased height/density for a given site, it could even be a first for the region, let alone anywhere else.


RE: General Urban Kitchener Updates and Rumours - Owen - 01-12-2016

(01-12-2016, 03:51 PM)Viewfromthe42 Wrote:
(01-12-2016, 03:26 PM)Owen Wrote: I wonder what 'collapsing' on the inside means...  I'm sure anything made of wood is destroyed, but I wonder to what extend stone/concrete/brick has been destroyed by freeze/thaw of water.  I would think that if nothing else the facade could easily be saved and build new on the inside like Bauer.

...and Bauer may well have only been able/willing to preserve the façade due to the density they were allowed to place on that lot, going many, many stories above the preserved façade height.

If we were to have a neighbourhood that could not even see the main street or density node having zero opposition to, or even support of increased height/density for a given site, it could even be a first for the region, let alone anywhere else.

But to be fair, the Bauer facade that was preserved was only a single floor - here we've got 4 floors. In addition, there is a lot of planning/urban design support for terracing additional floors above a facade as a way to minimize impact.  To one of my earlier points, I doubt you would ever have a tall building here without enormous neighborhood opposition, but 6 or 7 stories is not inconceivable (top one or two being terraced back), with a lot of room to expand the first 4 floors behind the existing building on Shanley.


RE: General Urban Kitchener Updates and Rumours - Viewfromthe42 - 01-12-2016

(01-12-2016, 04:01 PM)Owen Wrote:
(01-12-2016, 03:51 PM)Viewfromthe42 Wrote: ...and Bauer may well have only been able/willing to preserve the façade due to the density they were allowed to place on that lot, going many, many stories above the preserved façade height.

If we were to have a neighbourhood that could not even see the main street or density node having zero opposition to, or even support of increased height/density for a given site, it could even be a first for the region, let alone anywhere else.

But to be fair, the Bauer facade that was preserved was only a single floor - here we've got 4 floors. In addition, there is a lot of planning/urban design support for terracing additional floors above a facade as a way to minimize impact.  To one of my earlier points, I doubt you would ever have a tall building here without enormous neighborhood opposition, but 6 or 7 stories is not inconceivable (top one or two being terraced back), with a lot of room to expand the first 4 floors behind the existing building on Shanley.

I would argue that there's a difference between terracing on a main road like King and doing so here. On a road like King, you might be trying to preserve the view from the sidewalk on the opposite side. You already expect that, say, the Igloo building in Kitchener will appear very different from the East side of King than it will from Charles (massively tall) than it will from Duke or Weber (obstructed by other mid-rise buildings).

This particular development would stand out in the whole neighbourhood with any additional floors, terracing or not.


RE: General Urban Kitchener Updates and Rumours - eizenstriet - 01-12-2016

I appreciate your comments, Owen. It seems you have had some skin in the development game, and still have a sensitivity for what can be fairly placed in a particular location.


RE: General Urban Kitchener Updates and Rumours - Owen - 01-12-2016

(01-12-2016, 05:50 PM)eizenstriet Wrote: I appreciate your comments, Owen. It seems you have had some skin in the development game, and still have a sensitivity for what can be fairly placed in a particular location.

Thanks! No 'skin' in the game so to speak - I've done renovations to rental properties over the years (enough to have a rough idea of construction costs), and as of late I've found myself learning a fair bit about planning and urban design issues in KitchenerWink   On Electrohome - I've just driven by this location numerous times and always thought it would be cool to see it converted into Condos - but it's way beyond the scope of any project I would contemplate trying to tackle.