It’s been more than 13 years since coffee was brewing inside the Turner Building at Richmond Road and Birch Street, but now the building that once faced demolition could soon transform back into a vibrant gathering place.
Constructed in the 1940s, the building has been purchased by Island Cardiology Holdings Inc. and now the group is giving the community an idea of what’s planned for the boarded-up property.
According to architect Alan Lowe, the development calls for a five storey, 29,000- square-foot medical office building for cardiologists in the city. Two other lots at the back of the property have also been purchased by the group to be turned into a four-storey, 23 unit residential rental building.
The plan, said Lowe, is to keep the ground level of the existing Turner building as commercial with either a restaurant or a coffee shop. The building would be restored and incorporated into the overall design.
“Hopefully we can create some vibrancy in this neighbourhood once again. There are a lot of stories about this building, lots of nostalgia here...this will create a focal point in the community,” said Lowe, who also plans to designate the property as a heritage building.
“To designate it as heritage will essentially protect the building and keep it as part of the history of this city forever.”
The building once housed Ian’s Jubilee Coffee shop, a convenience store, flower shop and four apartments on the second level, but was shut down in 2001.
During a windstorm in September 2013, a 3.7-metre section of wall fell off the second storey of the vacant building, later prompting the city to issue a demolition order to prevent further collapsing.
The building was soon purchased by the cardiologist group, along with the two adjacent lots, saving it from demolition.
Lowe hopes to have a planning report to the Committee of the Whole within 60 to 90 days, and shovels could be in the ground six to eight months later. He’s already excited the project is finally moving forward.
“I think the community is excited about it because the building is a blight right now,” said Lowe.
“It’s one of the more high profile, fun projects and something that I think the city has been waiting for a long time to make happen.”