What a time we have had with 152 Shanley: decades of neglect, attempted interventions by neighbours, meetings with MHBPNA executive (both with staff and councilors) and many articles in the Record. And yet it still sits empty, quiet, derelict and with uncleared sidewalks, on the corner of Duke and Shanley.
The city attempted to sell the building in a tax sale. But it was unsuccessful partly because the municipal act tightly regulates sales and the city was required to ask the price of the taxes currently owing which is over 1 million dollars.
In April of 2018 the city organized a “charrette” to get buy-in and ideas from residents. This was well attended and well organized. City staff put together a draft “Vision statement” based on the ideas and comment at the charrette and released it in August. They then held another event in early September to get resident’s reactions to the Vision Statement. For those interested, it is worthwhile to read through many of the comments submitted about that statement.
Ultimately, Kitchener city council approved the Vision Statement on November 19 (despite a petition against it signed by over 20 people). This is the City of Kitchener’s statement: “Following an unsuccessful tax sale in 2017, planning staff developed a vision statement in collaboration with the neighbourhood surrounding 152 Shanley St. that clarifies expectation for redevelopment of the site that has been abandoned since 1990. From the engagement, what is envisioned is a building of up to six storeys that respects the site’s heritage and could permit retail/commercial (such as a coffee shop), personal services and community space on the ground floor and residential uses on the upper levels. The proposals should minimize the disruption to the neighbourhood, keeping parking underground or to the back of the building, provide for ample tree cover and contribute to an attractive streetscape.”
The latest news is there will be a new tax sale attempt in January of 2019. We can hope this is successful but it is impossible to please everyone. For some people the building is ‘historic’ and is a reminder of Kitchener’s manufacturing history. Others are angry it has sat there in a contaminated state for so long and believe the city should tear it down and clean up the contamination. Many who attended the charrette are happy with the city’s organization of that event and agree with the concept of a condo development. But not everyone is happy about a 6 story development and the increased traffic that would entail. And it remains to be seen if 6 floors and a reduced price (plus the Brownfield tax incentives that exist) are enough for a developer to take on the remediation and long term project management of the site.
At this point, all we can say is “to be continued”.
Ted Parkinson, Communications, MHBPNA