It seemed as though 2013 would be the year that the 101-year old former Canada Bread plant at 258 Burnell Street saw a revival. Perhaps not.
The building has been an ominous presence since it was vacated in 1998. Poorly shuttered and with no sprinkler system, it was the scene of a small fire created by squatters in 2011.
Later that year, the city began proceedings to seize its title under the Vacant Buildings Bylaw. The owners, Burnell Investments Ltd., managed to get a number of 90-day extensions to the order by making modest improvements and with the promise that they were “in discussions” about a redevelopment plan.
In December 2012 the owners held an open house to show off drawings for a proposal that would convert the building into 80 rental suites with some retail on the main floor. It was clear, though, that it was not a done deal as financing for the venture was not yet in place.
Still, over the summer of 2013 the site saw more action than it had in the 15 years since Canada Bread left. Crews spent months clearing out the building to ready it for its eventual conversion.
The latest appeal hearing regarding the seizure was to take place on December 3, 2013. A letter written to the city by Burnell Investments’ lawyers dated November 27, 2013 refers to the company as the former owners of the property and that the appeal was being withdrawn.
What happens now is unclear. The building obviously has new owners who will almost certainly be contacting the city before it ends up taking action. No doubt aware of the pending seizure, one assumes that they have their own redevelopment scheme ready to present.
Should the city end up seizing the complex, their first step would be to try and sell the property. Given its great location, just steps from a major shopping node on Portage Avenue, and the fact that it is now cleared out in preparation for a redevelopment, it’s likely that there would be interest in it. If not, the city would order its demolition.