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Mass-marketing "Heritage"

A case-study of ongoing gentrification in the East Side

by Isaac Oommen

Mass-marketing "Heritage"

Also posted by isaac:

Also in Cooperatives:

Located on Salsbury Drive, the new target for gentrification is a set of three buildings. Lovingly called "The Mansion" but also known as the Jeffs Residence, the complex is made up of 17 rental units owned by an elderly Indian gentleman looking to sell.

Kam Sukul, the owner of the set of units, gave the renters options to create a co-op.

“We did incorporate as a housing co-op and established an internal structure with policies and procedures and made some small improvements,” remembers Dave Fields, who lives in one of the units. “Ultimately it was the lack of capital that doomed the project, along with costs associated with maintaining the 106-year-old mansion (that let the project down). In January of this year we decided to end the co-op experiment.”

Enter Ankenman Marchand Architects (also known as Ankenman Marchand International). The group has been vying to take over, tear down and rebuild the site with megaprofits in mind.

“They want to build 16 row-houses,” said Soledad Ariana, another one of the residents. “But they want to use heritage building restoration on some of the current buildings so they can get a rezoning permit to have more units than are allowed.”

In order to get the City behind them, the would-be developer put together a “workshop” at the Cultch that included a survey from participants (covered by Joseph Jones for VMC).

“What happened to these surveys and how are they going to be used,” Ariana said. “And I checked with my neighbours: the developer was very selective about who got invitations to the event.”

Apart from gaining perceived community support for the project, the developers are not being open about if the redeveloped space would be entirely for sale, or would incorporate renters.

“I asked James Evans (the builder for the project) about how many rental and co-op units there would be, and he became very evasive,” Ariana stated. “He kept saying that they could only figure that out later into the project.”

What is certain is that the residents of the Mansion are not giving up.

“My neighbours have begun to organize and engage with at least the Van East Co-op,” said Fields. “And apparently the landlord has set a deadline with the developer for end of December, with him again becoming open to other offers if (the developer) can't get what he wants from the City.”

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