Here's why the owner of Regina's Cook Residence wants to redevelop
REGINA -- The owner of the Cook Residence on Albert Street is speaking out about his desire to build condos at the site, after opposition from Heritage Regina.
Carmen Lien said he bought the Cook Residence on Albert Street in 2018, in order to move his parents to that part of the city. He planned to create a smaller living space for multiple families but was not sure what the layout would look like.
“They’re at a point where they’re downsizing, but they’re not ready to move into an assisted living [home], but when we started looking for a place for them to go, there were really no options for them," Lien said.
When Lien bought the home in 2018 the property was on the Regina Heritage Holding List. One way to get the home off that list is by making a demolition application which must be reviewed by the City within 60 days.
Lien says he took that option to get the City talking about the future of the property, but says he never had any solidified plans to demolish the building.
“A year ago everyone painted [me] as this villain and that I wanted to take down this heritage house, a year ago I had no idea what I wanted,” Lien said. “Their demolition permit doesn’t say, ‘are you demoing the bathroom or are you taking down the whole house?’”
The property was deemed a Heritage Site following that application, which Lien said is why he is now applying to redevelop the site to include 16 residential condo units.
“Heritage was forced onto this property, and now that it is, I understand the rules, we’ve studied the rules” Lien said.
Lien said he has been working with the City since the demolition application and has adjusted the redesign to save 55 percent of the interior of the home.
“Administration has been invited into the house, so we have toured the house and seen the inside several months previous to this” Emmaline Hill, Social and Cultural Development Manager for the City of Regina said.
Lien said the condos would be located near needed infrastructure and is on the border of the Lakeview neighbourhood so it would not change the single-family dwelling’s appearance.
“We say we want all these things but no one [is] actually doing that, so that’s why I hope they get out and support us,” Lien said.
The granddaughter of the man who created the home said since it’s been deemed a Heritage Property there shouldn’t be more development.
“We’ve got to retain what’s old, the history, or it all kind of falls apart” Robert Cook's granddaughter Deirda Malone said. “Any property that is designated a heritage site should be in the hands of somebody who intrinsically cares about it, and I don’t think this man does, I think it’s just all money and development."
Lien said if the project goes ahead it would be good for the city in a pandemic as it would make construction jobs available for local workers, and the condos would result in more people paying property tax.
“I respect the concerns of the neighbours. I truly believe that if they gave us a chance that once this is done they’re going to say ‘ya you know what that’s a great project,” Lien said.
The planning commission will next make a recommendation to city council, who will have the final say on the project, likely to be voted on in Jan. 2021.