Regina city council denies property owner's application to redevelop the Cook House
REGINA -- The historical and highly-contentious Cook House in Regina’s Lakeview neighbourhood will remain as a single-family dwelling.
The decision was made during a special city council meeting on Thursday afternoon.
Of the nine councillors present during the vote, the decision was unanimous to reject the application to redevelop the 92-year-old house in a 16-unit condo complex.
The future of the house was discussed for four hours. City council heard from 16 delegations, including Carmen Lien, one of the owners of the property
"What we're trying to achieve, that's respectful to the neighbourhood," Lien said. "That's why this project does look the way it is. There is a huge financial premium to this design."
Seven of the delegations were against the redevelopment of the heritage property into a 16-unit condo complex. Nine of the delegations were in support of the project.
When Lien purchased the property it was already under Heritage Holding Bylaw status. The property later received heritage status once Lien was the owner.
Regina’s mayor said buyers need to be informed about the rules and regulations when buying a home with historic value.
"When you buy a heritage property or a property on the heritage inventory list of the size and uniqueness of the Cook House, you're buying that," Sandra Masters said.
Lien said when he purchased the house, he intended for his parents to live in it. He said once he started the renovations, the cost of repairs became very expensive, which made him think about turning it into an income property.
Lien said the house will cost between $1 and $3 million to repair, which includes repairs to the roof and foundation.
"I want to make sure that everyone understands and what's important is that every home is different, every home has different deficiencies and the way this home was constructed and the deterioration," Lien said.
The future of the building is unknown right now but during the discussion, Lien said he has looked into turning the house into a four-unit dwelling.
On Saturday, the Regina Planning Commission held a special meeting to discuss and vote on recommendations about the property.
City administration recommended a series of applications be denied, which propose to redevelop the heritage property, located at 3160 Albert St. into a 16-unit dwelling. These applications from the owners include altering the property's heritage designation and changes to part of Hill Avenue.
The planning commission voted unanimously in favour of the recommendations to deny the applications.
HOME OWNERS’ PROPOSAL
This is the Lien’s second attempt at developing the home. Initially, he wanted it demolished, but city council saved it from the wrecking ball by designating it as a heritage home in October 2019.
This time around, the proposal aimed to keep some heritage characteristics, but many neighbours still weren't happy with the plans.
“They are universally opposed. There is strong opposition in this neighbourhood,” said Bob Hawkins, city councillor for the Lakeview neighbourhood, at a meeting last year.
The owners were requesting the city re-zone the land to accommodate the condo development.
As well, they wanted some heritage exemptions, which would allow them to tear down part of the home, except for a portion of the front that faces Albert Street.
The building would be larger, encroaching closer to the sidewalk. It would feature an underground parkade with 24 stalls.