The building at 152 Shanley has been "known" to residents for many years. It has a long and fascinating history. On the side of the building you can still make out the letters for Deilcraft which was a division of Electrohome that made cabinets for home electronics. In fact, "In addition to television and stereo cabinets, the Deilcraft division produced bedroom and dining room sets and occasional furniture." There is a very good article on the history of Electrohome (including this building) located here.
The building has been sold a few times and over the years one or more owners have dumped toxins into the ground and contaminated the property and some of the surrounding area. This has been a cause of concern for those living close to the building but from all the testing that has occurred, it appears the toxins are no longer moving and there has been no compromise of air quality. An environmental report was presented to the neighbourhood in 2010 and a copy of it is stored on our MHBPNA website here.
Last summer some bricks fell off the building's side and there is now a small fence erected around that area. The owner of the building has tried to engage in various 'business' activities for which this building is not zoned, and this has frustrated neighbours. Police have been called because of suspicious behaviour and it has been suspected that people have lived or slept in the building.
For your information The Record has written a few articles on this building and the most recent is here. There is also a discussion about it on the Wonderful Waterloo website here.
A few of us from the community and the Neighbourhood Association met with our councillor Dan Glenn-Graham and several representatives from the city including By-Law, engineering and legal. We really appreciate Dan's work in facilitating this meeting.
Here are some facts we were able to glean from this meeting.
Tax Sale: The owner of the building currently owes the city over $800,000 in taxes. The amount comes primarily from unpaid taxes but also from fees charged by the city to clear snow and bushes etc. There may also be a charge on it for several thousand dollars from the Ministry of the Environment for work they have done to access the toxins. The city is actively engaged in putting up the building for a tax sale. There are procedures for this and they involve advertising it for 4 weeks in specified newspapers (The Record, The Ontario Gazette). This procedure involves several departments who work independently so while the sale is "immanent" the city could not tell us when it would happen. Hopefully it will occur within the next couple of months.
There are a 'few parties' interested in the building but the city cannot say who they are, or how interested they are. The building's current owner is 848835 Ontario Inc.
The "certificate" authorizing the city to proceed with the tax sale was issued last year and the owner cannot sell the building without paying off the taxes.
So the outcome of a tax sale is hopeful but we have no way of knowing until it occurs. We know in the past there has been interest in the building being renovated into condos and we believe the location is excellent. But this would involve a great deal of work and the contamination would have to be cleaned up (as much as is possible).
As an incentive to clear up and redevelop "Brownfield" properties the city and region do work with developers to offset their cleanup and development costs with future tax incentives. But these plans have to be applied for and their costs are measured against future value. This encourages development but it also means a detailed plan must be worked out prior to the application.
There are many additional details we learned in our meeting with the city and they will be provided in a few days in the next article. Stay tuned......