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New plan to restore Ottawa's Somerset House

The owner of Somerset House has submitted an application to restore and stabilize the building on Somerset Street. (City of Ottawa documents) The owner of Somerset House has submitted an application to restore and stabilize the building on Somerset Street. (City of Ottawa documents)

A new plan is in the works to restore the historic Somerset House in Ottawa's Centretown neighbourhood, including building a three-storey addition with 14 residential units.

A report for the Built Heritage Committee meeting on Sept. 12 recommends approving the application to alter the building at 352 Somerset Street West, at Bank Street.

Initially built in 1896, Somerset House originally served as a department store for the Crosby, Carruthers Company, says the report. The building partially collapsed as part of a renovation project in 2007, and remains vacant.

The report says 19 orders have been issued under the Building Code Act since 2007 for the property, and there have been 31 requests for service about the property since 2012.  Staff say Somerset House has been "subject to multiple" Building Code Act orders and Bylaw and Regulatory Services Notices of Violation Property Standards orders.

"Except for the demolition of the most easterly wing of the building in 2016, no action has been taken on these applications," staff say, noting several heritage applications have been submitted by the owner and approved by the city since the initial collapse in 2007.

The proposed new development includes the "restoration and stabilization" of the historic building and the construction of a three-storey addition at the back, to the east of the existing building.

Staff say the development is a three-storey mixed-use building with two commercial units at the ground and basement levels and 14 residential units on the second and third floors. There are no parking spaces proposed for the site.

The report recommends approving the application to alter the Heritage Building, subject to several conditions. The conditions include the implementation of a conservation plan and a construction schedule be submitted that outlines anticipated timing of key milestones for the project.

"The proposed addition is physically and visually compatible with, subordinate to and distinguishable from the original building," the report says.

"The restoration and adaptive reuse of the historic structure, which has been vacant and in a deteriorated condition will conserve the value of the historic building and enhance the cultural heritage value of the Centretown HCD at this prominent location."

In a letter to the city, the Centretown Community Association says, "We are not opposed to the current application."

"The statement highlights the proposed development's positive impact on the heritage value of the property, ensuring its preservation for future generations," the Centretown Community Association writes.

"We believe that the proposed plans align with the historical context of the area and will contribute to the overall character and charm of our community. However, we would like to express our disappointment with the developer's delays in proceeding with the improvements to the property. As an association dedicated to the betterment of our community, we have been eagerly anticipating the restoration and enhancement of 352 Somerset House. Our CCA members and the Centretown community are frustrated by the delays in revitalizing this significant heritage site."

TKS Holdings own Somerset House. Top Stories

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