Not much remains of the Plaza Hotel following a devastating, albeit suspicious fire, and even less will be there soon.
This week city council will consider granting a heritage alteration permit to the building’s owners which would allow them to demolish any remaining infrastructure.
On May 6 a fire razed the property at 603 Pandora Ave., causing smoke and ash to pour through downtown streets for days. One caretaker who may have been on-site remains unaccounted for even five weeks later, though the BC Coroners Service said that it has not been called to the scene for a body.
An investigation led by the Victoria Police Department and the Victoria Fire Department found the cause of the fire to be suspicious, but no new information has been publicly released.
Regardless, developer Ocean Gate Ltd., is applying for permission to demolish the remaining infrastructure, which consists of two half-walls on the east and west side of the building.
“We are applying for a Heritage Alteration Permit to address safety concerns, clean-up of site, removal of debris and further excavation of the site,” wrote Nick Askew, managing partner of Ocean Gate Development Ltd. in a letter to the city.
Askew also wrote that they are working with a new architect to advance designs for the property, and that plans will ideally be presented in upcoming months.
Ocean Gate Development had previously submitted plans with a different architect for a 100-unit residential building in 2017. Plans for this development were moving forward, with an advisory design panel that happened on Feb. 27.
Police wrapped up their on-site investigation on May 24. On the same day, developers had city staff tour through the property to undertake a heritage assessment of what remains of the building, which was erected in 1910. The purpose of this assessment is to identify any remaining heritage infrastructure elements that could be salvaged and reintegrated into new building designs.
Through the investigation, staff found two polished granite columns, several white glazed bricks that had fallen from above, some heavy timbers that suffered little damage from the fire, and several 10-feet tall cast iron columns. Additionally, sidewalk glass prisms were found beneath the existing sidewalk.
With the retention of these elements, city staff are recommending that council permit the demolition of the Plaza Hotel “as soon as possible.”
Council will hear the request at a committee of the whole meeting schedule for Thursday, June 14.
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